A glimpse of life on Kenh Te Canal

Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho City and Cai Be floating market in Tien Giang Province are what local and international tourists often think of first when it comes to visiting floating markets in Vietnam.

Many vendors from the Mekong Delta sell fruits along Kenh Te Canal on Tran Xuan Soan Street in District 7, HCMC, also known as Kenh Te fl oating market - PHOTOS: HOANG PHONG

But there is a less-known floating market for fruits along HCMC’s Kenh Te Canal where poor migrants from the Mekong Delta live in makeshift houseboats and earn their daily bread by selling various fruits.

When dropping by Tran Xuan Soan Street in District 7, HCMC, tourists can see dozens of boats at anchor along the canal selling typical fruits of the Mekong Delta such as banana, coconut, rambutan, mango and grapefruit along the canalside street.

Fruit vendors in the area are mostly from the Mekong Delta provinces such as Vinh Long, An Giang, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh and Ben Tre where they find it hard to make a living.

Tran Thi Kim Hanh, a native of the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long who moved to HCMC at the age of 19, says she, her husband and two children have been living onboard a wooden boat for more than 10 years. 

“With little income, I could not afford to rent a small home in the city given the increasing living cost. I am really worried about the gloomy future of our two children due to the lack of education,” Hanh says.  

Hanh’s eldest daughter identified as Hang, a nine-year-old girl who is helping her mother sell fruits every morning, bursts into tears while sharing her desire to go to school but it remains a dream as her parents are still struggling to make ends meet.

Hung, a 42-year-old trader from Ben Tre Province, explains that he and his wife have been selling dried coconuts and bananas from their hometown at the market for more than 15 years and spending most of their time onboard a wooden boat.

Like many other floating market vendors, Hung equips his boat with a cassette player, and a television set, and even a motorbike so that he can deliver fruits to customers nearby.

According to local vendors, most families at the floating fruit market spend VND30,000 (US$1.32) a day to buy clean water and use batteries for daily activities.

Source SGT