Can Tho, Viet Nam ~ The highlight of our Mekong Delta adventure

Can Tho, the Provincial capital and commercial hub of the Mekong Delta, is our final destination before circling to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for a few days before we fly to Bangkok.
Can Tho has been on our minds for some time as it is frequently in the news for its annual flooding events.  It is “ground zero” for climate change in Viet Nam, not only for its flooding profile but also for the climate consciousness of its municipal leaders and the existence of Viet Nam’s largest Climate Research Center at the Can Tho University.
Our specific travel interests though consist in Can Tho’s reputed floating markets.  Though some floating markets are more accessible to Ho Chi Minh, and therefore get the bulk of tourists, we are happy to go a little further to experience the floating markets with fewer tourists.
We are up and ready to “sail” at 5:30 a.m. in order to catch the thick of the market before the heat.  A side benefit is the changing light on the water as the sun slowly rises and casts a pink and orange glow. (The market pretty much winds down at 9 a.m.)
Promenade alongside the river front with parks.
We are on a boat on the river before sunrise, on our way to experience the Mekong Delta’s floating markets.
View from the boat as we approach the first floating market.
Houses on stilts on the side of the river.
The floating market is an interesting choreography between larger “wholesaler” boats that position themselves near the center of the river, and smaller boats that dart in and out of water traffic to load up on the fruits and vegetables before they wind downstream.
Watermelons aplenty.
A small boat pulls up to a larger one to buy pineapples which the vendor will then sell.
Life on the river. The large boats are house boats ~ note the laundry hanging in the front and house plant behind the woman on the large boat.
Produce on its way to market.
Mangoes for sale on this boat.
Whenever people congregate in a location in Viet Nam, one is pretty much assured of finding an offering of food, and the floating market is no different.  Tiny boats cosy up to ours to offer, to our delight, pho (soup), Banh Mi (baguette with pork with pickled veggies) and Café Sua (iced coffee).
The pho lady uses a metal hook to attach her small rowing boat to our larger one, so that she can prepare the soup dish.
Making Cafe sua da on his floating cafe.
Our boat driver enjoying his ice coffee. The figurines in the front of the boat are Chinese good luck charms for safety and protection of the boat and its passengers.
I love how the color of the fruit piled on the deck match the vendors pants.
A boat selling pineapple, indicated by the pineapple at the top of the bamboo pole.
A moment of reflection.
It is fascinating to be able to peek into these houseboats and get a tiny feel of life on the river.
The Banh Mi vendor ~ Baguettes.
Small boat with Banh mi vendor pulls up alongside our larger boat
Making use of the omnipresent hammock to rest after an exciting and very memorable morning.
After the main floating market, we push on up a beautiful stretch of the river that gives us a chance to observe  the slow rhythm of riverside village life from the water.  A second, much smaller market has a quaint feel.
Bright green coconuts contrast beautifully with the woman’s bright purple outfit.
Vegetables and meat for sale on this boat.
Cutting fresh coconuts to get at the coconut water inside for a refreshing drink.
House plants for sale on the boat on the right hand side.
The best spot on the boat…
On our way back down the river, we ask our boat driver to stop as we notice the peaks of a bright yellow temple along the water front. So glad we stopped to visit!
Cao Dai temple painted in bright yellow with blue trim. Flower petals in red and white and bright figures give an overall Gaudi like feel to this temple.
This seems a good place to clarify the Swastika symbol, given its prominence at this temple and on this picture. The swastika (卐) (Sanskrit: स्वस्तिक) is a symbol that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross, with its four arms bent at 90 degrees. The earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to theIndus Valley Civilization as well as the Mediterranean Classical Antiquity and paleolithic Europe. Swastikas have been used in various other ancient civilizations around the world including Turkic, India, Iran, Armenia, Nepal, ChinaJapan and Korea
It remains widely used in Indian religions, specifically in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, primarily as a tantric symbol that invokes Lakshmi – the Vedic goddess of wealth, prosperity and auspiciousness.
The word “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit svastika – “su” (meaning “good” or “auspicious”) combined with “asti” (meaning “being”), along with the diminutive suffix “ka.” The swastika literally means “well-being.” It is a common practice for Hindus to draw Swastika symbols on the doors and entrances to their houses during festivals, which is believed to symbolize an invitation to goddess Lakshmi.
The inside of the temple has shades of turquoise, pink and peach and a ceiling painted bright blue with clouds on it. Quite stunning in its own way.
The “third eye”. A monk comes in and turns on the lights around the altar for us creating a bright blue haze.
This temple is a Cao Dai temple, a religion started in Viet Nam in 1926.  Today, its adherents number about 5 million.  Adherents engage in ethical practices such as prayerveneration of ancestorsnonviolence, and vegetarianism with the goal of the union with God and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. We have run into Cao Dai temples several times during our travels and the temples are always very colorful.
View over the roof top of the temple from the temple tower.

6 thoughts on “Can Tho, Viet Nam ~ The highlight of our Mekong Delta adventure

  1. Maya

    I loved all the pics from the market, but especially the one with the watermelons, one of my favourite fruits! I remember from Vietnam that everything started really early there, it seems like this is what you experienced too in this market. Good luck with your travels!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Our goal was to arrive at the floating market early before the heat of the day. Thanks for the feedback!

    1. petakaplan

      Thanks JB! I agree, it is painters paradise.

      Not sure when I will get around to picking up a brush and paints, but meantime I am painting with a lens.


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