We met Ms Thu at the harbor, it was maybe a beautiful day as it was still dark and dawn before 5.30am.
But we reckon it was a worthwhile day for us.
Ms Thu waved us from very far to welcome us. She stopped her boat, tying it tightly so that when we got on the boat, we would not be falling down to the river.
When she made sure that we were safe on the boat, she slowly removed the tie and started driving us to the Cai Rang floating market. We were getting farther and farther from the riverbank. It was strongly waved by other big boats passing by us, but we felt really safe because we trusted in her 30-year-driving experience.
Cai Rang floating market is a place where people come to purchase their agricultural products from different provinces for the last almost 100 years. May, this one is one of the oldest floating markets of Southeast Asia.
The beautiful soul of Cai Rang floating market nowaday which come from a hundred stories about the lives of locals here including love and sacrifice. They spent most of their time on the Cai Rang floating market.
“I have 2 children. One is studying in secondary school and one is studying at university. My husband and I only carried local people across the Can Tho river (which is a part of the Mekong river) and sold fruits at Cai Rang floating market by small sampan boats.”
Our boat is a 3 square sampan boat which is driving much more slowly than other big boats, but Ms Thu has proved to us that she is a skillful boat driver. She knows when to go slowly or faster. She drives the boat as a big captain that we usually see in the movie.
For the last 30 years, 3 decades have been with the Cai Rang floating market. I just worked as a tour guide in a floating market for 4 years. Few…it is just nearly 8% of her working time. I can see the changing of the floating market.
She said: It was much busier 10-20 years ago when it had thousands of boats with lots of colorful products from everywhere in the delta. These years, it has been getting fewer and fewer boats, and there are many vendors leaving the floating market to move to another place for living.
We wonder why she is still here working while she tries very hard to keep the boat. I look at my friend Thomas with the same question.
She said it is her life career, the boat that carries her burdens and worries. One day when she passed away, she wanted her children to cremate her and throw the ashes to the Hau river as that is where she wants to come back and stay with the river forever…
I thought there are many people who think this is a sad story about a tough life without the light in the future. But I do not feel that…
The atmosphere of the journey seems to get down because of the traces of time. But She is very optimistic when she shares about these things.
Life will change which is normal happening after 20, 30 years or a half of a person’s life
She doesn’t want her children to be boat drivers like her. She said “she couldn’t have a chance to go to school, it was a pity for her, also her husband, but her children must go to school as education is one of the greatest ways to change their lives and she doesn’t want her children to follow her job.
She proudly said: Her eldest son is a first year student in Can Tho university and daughter is in high school at present. She is nurturing them as long as she can. She won’t let her children’s future stick with the boats and paddles like her. Both of her children are excellent students in school, they even get a scholarship from school every semester which helps them pay for their school tuition.
If you have a chance to visit Cai Rang floating market. Please do not forget us and our boat driver Ms.Thu. you will explore and listen more about local lives on the floating market in your way.
Feel the lifestyle of Cai Rang floating market through a journey with the special life drivers.
feel the rustic river lifestyle of the Mekong people…
…in the sound of rowing on the Mekong River