Cai Be floating market and the longtail boats of the Mekong
The Mekong Delta is Vietnam’s vibrant hive, no more evident than at the Cai Be floating market. The mouth of one of Asia’s great rivers has many openings and the area is home to millions of people, but of the busy towns and markets in between, Cai Be is perhaps the most dazzling in colour and variety of produce. Shallow wooden boats adorned with verdant sprays of vegetables, fruit, rice and fish, oscillate all higgledy piggledy on the river, making this section of one of Asia’s great rivers the most spectacular and, alongside its rice fields, a veritable cornucopia. It’s with good reason the Mekong Delta is known as the ‘rice basket’ of Vietnam and, in cruising the delta, you’ll get a real sense of the river’s significance to South East Asia.
The longtail boats that shoot up and down the Mekong at break-neck speed are burbling single-gear, car-engine affairs, and you’ll swear you’re involved in some kind of drag race when your captain has you belting up the water way, hair swept back and tears ripping from your eyes. You’re eyes will widen from their squint though; there is no slowing down for the corners and some frantic shifting of weight might be required to get the craft around without hitting the bank.