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Long Xuyen Floating Market through a foreign photographer’s perspective

AN GIANG – At the beginning of December, JP Klovstad, a Norwegian, had a trip to Long Xuyen floating market and recorded pictures of life there.

Located on the Hau River area, near the center of Long Xuyen city, Long Xuyen floating market is a famous sightseeing spot in An Giang. The starting point of the floating market starts from O Moi ferry, runs along the Hau river about 2 km, located in the area of ​​My Phuoc and My Long wards. The market is busiest at around 4am, and the market is around 8am.

JP Klovstad, 62 years old, Norwegian photographer, arrived at the market at 5 o’clock, it was not quite morning but there was the sound of the boat’s engine. People here wake up early to prepare for a day of living.

The main products in the market are vegetables and fruits that people harvest from their home gardens, fill their boats and from rivers, and gather in the market area. Depending on the weather, visitors catch the sunrise on the floating market. If there is no dawn as expected, the noisy space of the boats and the call of the merchant lake is also a feature that can cause curiosity for visitors from afar.

Traders or tourists visiting the floating market from early morning take advantage of visiting the boat lining with a familiar breakfast such as vermicelli, vermicelli, vermicelli, or vermicelli with meat, … with prices ranging from 15,000 to 25,000 VND. A cup of iced black coffee or milk coffee costs about 12,000 VND.

Buying and selling on the floating market takes place very quickly, with little bargaining.

Having lived in Vietnam for 20 years, moving around to take pictures, Mr. JP is always interested and sympathetic to the fates of life floating on the river. “Maybe they are not rich in material things, but they are always smiling, showing joy and optimism. I can feel it,” said JP.

Coming to the floating market, many tourists from afar wonder about the “baby tree”. This is the type of advertising goods only available on the Western floating market. Customers can look at the tree in front of the boat to choose the product they want to buy. Each boat will hang a different item, from vegetables, tubers, fruits to items needed for daily life.

Many people, after purchasing goods from large boats moored at the floating market, take motorboats deep into the canals until they are sold out.

The floating market space also has boats fixed on the river surface thanks to a system of drums or tires. Many of the residents here are Vietnamese returning from Cambodia.

Because of living on the river, the boat is the house to shelter from the rain and the sun, the main means of transportation for people. The second half of the boat is for family activities such as drying clothes, or washing dishes. A large boat will have a small boat anchored next to it for the owner to easily move into the creeks or to the shore.

Many people also keep rabbits and fighting chickens on boats. Some boats have nets that rake down the river bed to catch fish and shrimp.

Children on floating markets are always closely watched by their parents. They are fitted with cribs or nets to ensure safety, not to fall off the boat. Due to difficult economic conditions, most left school very early or only finished primary school, then followed to help their parents.

Today, traffic is more convenient and developed than before, but the life in the floating market still exists and remains the same form of living to this day.

There are about 50 boats gathered on the river surface forming a living community for decades – a cultural feature of the Southwest.

Photo: JP Klovstad

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