|Farmers carry a kumquat tree from their boat to deliver to a customer. -- VNS Photo Van Dat
HCM CITY (VNS) – The Binh Dong Wharf Floating Market in Tau Hu Canal in HCM City's District 8 looks a bit strange to some people in the modern bustling city.
However, for Pham Van Be, 45, from Cho Lach district in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, the annual market is an ideal place to sell flowers, straight from his 1,000sqm farm to customers who are preparing for Tet (Lunar New Year).
He is one among several owners of more than hundred boats berthed at the wharf for selling kumquat, daisies, apricots and marigold to local people. All boats from the Mekong Delta and the outlying districts of HCM City return home on the last day of the final lunar calendar month, regardless of whether their products are sold out or not.
Be knows that the market has existed for hundreds of years, while the Tau Hu Canal is a famous route for western farmers to deliver rice to the city. He has been bringing his flowers to sell in the floating market every Lunar New Year for more than 14 years.
This year, Be brought more than 1,000 flowerpots to sell in this market.
On another boat selling apricots, Nguyen Huy Cuong, 27, from HCM City's Binh Chanh District, said that he was happy to visit the market every year. On the 29th day of the lunar calendar's final month, there were only six unsold apricot trees, he added.
The boat returned to his family's 2ha garden five times to bring back more flowers to the floating market, he told Viet Nam News, while persuading a customer to buy his product.
Though business and prices are not as good as last year, Cuong cannot stop attending the market as he likes the atmosphere here, where everyone is busy buying flowers to decorate their houses on the first day of the New Year.
Each time the Lunar New Year approaches, gardeners from Long An, Can Tho, Ben Tre and Dong Thap, besides Tien Giang and other provinces gather in this floating market in the centre of HCM City.
The boats in the city's floating markets do not move around to find customers as is done in the Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho City or Cai Be floating market in Tien Giang Province. Farmers bring their products to the pavements near the canal and sell it to city dealers and customers.
Walking through the market at the centre of a modern city, it is not difficult for people to be reminded of the peaceful Mekong Delta, where the rustic lives of the southern people are linked to boats and waterways.
The floating market opens only seven days before Tet every year, but it has become an essential part of the lives of the local people in the city.
It is not only a place for sellers and buyers, but also an ideal place for photographers interested in seeing a forest of flowers and boats lying berthed along Binh Dong Street near Tau Hu Canal in the city's District 8.
The market was founded along with the establishment of the city, and was forgotten for a period of time. However, no one can tell exactly when it became operational again.
Be said that he has known the market since his childhood. Much has changed on the canal. After the canal's dredging project is completed alongside the East–West Highway, larger boats might be able to come through, bringing flowers from the Mekong Delta to the market.
This year, most of the boats are selling kumquat and apricot flowers. Water melons and pineapples are among the items that Mekong Delta farmers want to sell, as most Vietnamese families buy them for display in their houses during Tet.
Like other markets in HCM City and elsewhere in Viet Nam, the floating market becomes extremely crowded on the last day of the final lunar calendar month, when all gardeners cut prices sharply in the hope of selling all their goods.
No one can tell how long these floating markets will last, but at the moment, they still do good business and add a peaceful and rustic touch to the modern city. -- VNS