There is a similarity in markets around the world but the markets of South East Asia, especially those along the Mekong and other big rivers are special. A mixture of floating and land based markets, vibrant bustling and load. At this market in Can Tho in the heart of the Mekong Delta all those aspects were present.
It was a cool January day in Hanoi and I decided to take a walk around West Lake. This is the largest of the many lakes that are in Hanoi. Being mid January the preparations for Tet were beginning and there was activity all around the lake. The 17km walk took most of the day as I took in the sites and indulged the culture and Vietnamese coffee along the way.
Vietnam is a mixture of teeming cities, beautiful coast and intensive agriculture in a hot fertile land.
For Australians there is a special link through our involvement in the Vietnam war (or the American War as the Vietnamese call it) and the settlement of thousands of Vietnamese in Australia post the war.
So many Australians have been directly touched by Vietnam’s fight for independence for me there was one degree of separation but an impact still, which coloured my thoughts and attitude to travelling in Vietnam.
The Mekong Delta
The Delta was hot and humid even though it was January and the Vietnamese winter. I had traveled by bus up from the south of Vietnam where I had spent some time on the beautiful island of Phu Quoc.
But more than the Chu Ci tunnels just out of Hi Chi Min city is was the Mekong Delta that let me to reflect on my brother in law and his tour of duty in Vietnam, his conscription and the impact it had on him and his family. He went away and like so many like him came back another. He could not stop running and left his kids, his wife, his family and moved to the tropics of Australia because the hot sticky humidity of the tropics had sucked him in.
So I sat in a bar on the banks of the Mekong looking at the huge bridge built with the help of Australian aid and wrote while swilling cold beer