Tourists head to the Mekong specifically for the floating boat markets at dawn, among other things. In recent years, however, new suspension bridges and rebuilt roads have meant that market wares available only by boat are now accessible by land. While the floating market exists, I found that tourist boats closely numbered the local market boats in Cai Rang; what used to take up a huge swath of the river had narrowed considerably. In its place, the land markets ** were growing quickly, with residents buying a motorbike instead of a boat. According to Theu, who ran the guesthouse I stayed at (more about her soon!), a boat and a motorbike were roughly the same price in this part of Vietnam, and families were opting for motorbikes due to practicality, resilience and ease of use. It made sense, then, that the markets would shift with demand.
[** A small note on terminology. The land markets in Cai Rang are still referred to as "wet" markets because they comprise a wet part (for fruit, vegetables, meat and other produce, where the floor and stalls are literally doused with water to keep them clean) and a dry part where spices, dried goods and other foods and household products are sold. When people refer to a wet market in Asia, it is usually on land, whereas a floating market would be on a boat.]
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