February 3rd to 6th
When I arrived at my hotel, to my surprise, the desk staff had no idea that there was a floating market in Long Xuyen. Luckily an older man, knew where it was and how to get there, so I set off at 5:30 in a taxi to the floating market. Again I just had to trust that it would work out. We ended up going down these very narrow alleys and where he dropped me off I really wondered where I was. I went in the direction he pointed me too and found the river and some women who were quite happy to take me out for a pretty healthy price. I managed to bargain them down about 25%. I had no idea if the market was around the corner or a long way away. Luckily, it was just 10 minutes away. At first, in the dark I thought it was quite small but as we went along I could see that it was just very spread out. Many of the boats were larger but there was something quite amazing about this market too. I bargained for another hour of time in the boat happily. People were not as friendly as Nga Nam, but it seemed as I spent time there, that there were more smiles and little interactions. The light was gorgeous that morning. I went back to the hotel happy with another wonderful experience. As I visit these markets, I know that really, they are all in the process of change, so I am truly enjoying experiencing the authenticity of what is here right now. Here are some of my photos from that morning:
They learn to handle boats young here
This was an amazing little area of the market where all the boats congregated to buy and sell.
She made a coffee for me
The boat woman who took me around the market
Aren't these boats gorgeous?
A larger view of the Long Xuyen Floating Market
When I asked at the hotel how to get a bus to my next destination Rach Gia on the coast from where I will take the ferry to the tropical island of Phu Quoc, just a few hours away from the coast, I discovered that for some odd reason, I could not get a bus there even though there is a road. Makes no sense to me, so I had to take another bus, to a coastal town named Ha Tien and from there I could take another 2 hour bus ride to Rach Gia. Seemed crazy especially when I saw the bus, very local indeed and as it is also transports goods all the way along, it took 4 hours to go 127 kms. The bonus I though was that I was sitting right up front with a great view, except the driver and his cohort who got people and goods off and on the bus, were chain smokers and the horn which the used all the time was actually painful to hear. I spent 3 hours covering my ears! I certainly had a little aversion attack! In the end, I decided to use the time to work on my blog and this got my mind off the unpleasantness of it all.
I had been curious about Ha Tien, so I wasn’t unhappy to be there and I found a great hotel that was just $20 night on the river front. It was even, better when they moved me the second night and I had a view of the river from my own balcony.
It was a great place to land and I knew that I wasn’t going to go back to Rach Gia, but instead forfeited the ticket I had already bought and bought a new one from Ha Tien to Phu Quoc. That was a relief. I felt like I had enough travelling on buses in the last few days and I just needed to be in one place. Luckily the hotel was just a block from where the small boats bring in the catch for the day to the market and the main market was there too. It really was at it’s height as the New Year’s Day in February 7th. On my last morning it was almost a frenzy with everyone shopping for food for the next days and things pretty much grind to a halt until Feb 11th or 12th. Watching the amount of flowers being sold was incredible. Everyone had their flowers. Here are a few of the photos that I took at the markets in the morning.
At the fish market
Bringing in the daily catch of fish
Sorting out the catch in the nets.
What an array of flowers....
One of many flower sellers
Last chance for flowers......
I have no idea what she was selling, but they were not to eat!
I had a lovely little exchange with this man in the vegetable market.
I visited another Women’s Pagoda named Tam Bao which I enjoyed. Again they were busy decorating and arranging flowers for the holiday. I was quite touched by the recognition of great nuns that were around in the time of the Buddha.
This is a depiction of these six nuns, unfortunately, I couldn't include the sixth one in the photo.
This was a description of the six nuns who had reached a high attainment of realization
A Reclining Buddha
There was a beautiful Quan Yin, or Quan Am as she is known here, but sadly the sun was right behind her and I couldn't take a photograph. From what I have seen so far in Vietnam, statues of Quan Am are actually more usual than of the Buddha.
After the craziness of the market, it was peaceful toTam Bao. I rented a bicycle, but realized that I really have to know what I am doing, as the rules of the road are really different here, and you have to have eyes at the back of your head to safely navigate. For whatever reason in Hoi An, I found it relatively easy to ride, but not here.
I had a ticket on the superfast ferry called the Superdong which left promptly on time. So a new chapter opens, Phu Quoc. I will continue in my next entry. Bye for now. Dana