Nov. 4 – Day 15 – Today we visited the Cal Rang floating market on the Mekong River.
The river is a muddy color as we slide onto it. It is crossed by a few large bridges, some of which have been built by the Japanese. The Chinese and the Japanese are putting money into this country.
We were moved into smaller boats after we crossed the river and taken for a ride through the mangrove forest by women who row these boats to help increase their income. Rowing is not the proper verb. It is more like sweeping from side to side, much like the gondolas in Venice. The canals are kept in place by twigs and woven matts in many places.
There are many new homes being built along the canals. They are sometimes completely covered in ceramic tile. The are very neat and tidy. The styles differ, but they are modern in appearance and many are rented to tourists by families that have worked hard and saved their money to improve their lives.
The market consists of many large wooden boats anchored in place in the river. They all look quite old and are of the same style. They are similar to old English sailing vessels, but much smaller. I wondered about that. They are all filled with different types of produce.
Each vessel has a tall pole reaching into the sky with a head of cabbage or a fish stuck on it. This is how they advertise their wares.
There are smaller boats being paddled among them, selling coffee and tea to the tourists. It was a pleasant day and interesting to see how all of these boats manage on a swiftly moving river of some width. The Mekong is but a trickle in some areas in the dry season, but it is wide and deep here.
There seems to be great variety in produce and plenty of it at this time. It appears to be a free market economy though the government is Communist. They have learned their lesson and keep their hands off of the economy. The government benefits by more tax income when the economy is strong and free.
We saw all manner of homes and commercial enterprises along the river. Some in pristine condition and others nearly melted by the elements. This is the same in all countries of course. Some families keep their homes clean and well cared for while other families have a different way of doing things.
There were many boats about, filled with tourists. That’s a good thing. More money is coming into the country and people are learning about each other.
Hopefully, that will help to prevent future misunderstandings and war may be averted. That is my hope at least. When we have friends in different countries and we understand their cultures better, the chances of misunderstandings are lessoned.
The politicians can still be evil and greedy, but we will remember that the people are very much like us.