The Fish Market at Phan Thiết

Phan Thiết, a city of more than 200,000 people, lies on the coast of the East Sea about 165km east of Saigon. For ten or twelve km on either side of its urban center, large areas administered by Phan Thiết stretch along the coast. To the east is Mũi Né, a well-known tourist destination drawing both Vietnamese and international visitors to its beaches, sand dunes and recreational activities.

Phan Thiết has a large fishing fleet and a wholesale fish market that sells the fleet’s daily catch early in the morning pretty much every day. It seemed worthwhile to visit the market with cameras, so my Ke Ga host, Mark, and I got ourselves up and on the road to Phan Thiết by 6am. The market was still active when we arrived around 7am, though there were already signs of people getting ready to pack up and go home.

No shortage of hairy eyeballs targeting the guy with the camera.

This guy gave life to the expression “built like a brick shithouse.” He did not have a warm, friendly look on his face, so I decided a profile shot was the better part of valor.

The market was definitely the place to go in Phan Thiết for fashion statements.

It’s a long, early morning at the market.

Floating Market in the Mekong Delta

Long Xuyên is a city of some 400,000 people located on the banks of the Hau River (Sông Hậu). The Hau is part of the massive Mekong River delta system of rivers. Long Xuyen is 140km upriver from the coast where the Mekong and its tributaries spill into the East Sea. Even at that distance from the sea, the Hau River is not a small river on its own, but the delta’s main channel, the Mekong River itself, is still larger as it flows by about 20km to the north and east of Long Xuyen.

Long Xuyen is home to a floating market where sellers of local fruits and vegetables meet with buyers on boats in the middle of the Hau River. The man standing on top of the larger boat in the photo above is weighing large bunches of bananas to sell to the man in the smaller boat. He will transport the bananas he buys to the Long Xuyen shore of the river where the bananas will be cut into smaller bunches and be sold to retail buyers in a local wet market.

The floating market opens early and continues to 10 or so in the morning seven days a week. When my brother visited Vietnam in 2018, we made a brief stop in Long Xuyen and took a boat tour through the market. There were a number of boats on the river, though the market area was hardly crowded. We arrived at about 7:30 am on a Sunday morning, and it is very possible Sunday is a slow day.

The friendly young woman in the foreground of the photo below is going from boat to boat in the market selling bowls of noodle soup for breakfast to customers and sellers.

The woman in the next image is making her way to the market area with a selection of drinks for sale.

Hoa My Hung Island sits in the middle of the Hau River, dividing the river into two narrow channels that come together just as the river flows past Long Xuyen. Houses on stilts stand in the water near the river banks. Some households are engaged in fishing, and in addition to having flat bottom fishing boats, some river dwellers use ingenious arrangements of nets deployed below the house to catch or, in some cases, farm fish. Trapdoors in the porches of the houses make both the nets and the catch accessible. I assume most of the people living in these homes depend on the river in one way or another for their livelihoods. Other families may be involved in growing fruits and vegetables on Hoa My Hung Island.

Some houses have satellite dishes providing residents with television and, I presume, internet service.

In the picture below, a family is out fishing. It is Sunday morning so it makes sense that the boy is helping his mom and dad on the weekend. But let’s hope he is able to go to school come Monday morning.

Sunday Market, Meo Vac, Vietnam

Mèo Vạc is a small mountain town on the highway that begins in the northern city of Hà Giang and loops through spectacular mountain scenery before returning to Hà Giang. This road and the sights along the road are a major tourist attraction in Vietnam. Many of the people living in and around Mèo Vạc are citizens of Vietnam, but ethnically not Vietnamese. The Hmong are an important group in this area, and there are a number of other ethnic groups who live and work in this part of northern Vietnam.