A quick stop in the public market along the Mekong River presented an opportunity to check out the street scenes in Vinh Long and maybe buy some local fruits .
The town is the capital of the province of the same name and is still largely rural. Most visiting the Mekong Delta simply passes through this town on the way to Can Tho, or do a quick restroom stop.
"Thirty minutes, then we go", our Vietnamese guide reminded. While some of us were eager to get down, probably for different reasons, he seemed largely uninterested, he probably passed through this town a thousand times.
While my companions wandered around, I kept to one side of the street, distancing myself from the market crowd. Its a good way to observe and not intimidate people when taking photos. On the other side a young policeman, too young in my opinion, kept a watchful eye. He probably is more bored than our tour guide.
A friend who visited Vietnam before had this to say: "same same, but different". The scene is oddly familiar, but like the one I'm used to in Manila's Divisoria or Chinatown area. Everything seemed the same, from the good being hawked to the regular fruits and veggies. But the conical straw hats, the crazy stream of motorcycles, bikes, and scooters, and the signage I can't read tells me I'm in a different place.
dragon fruits and guava
My wife took fancy on some dragon fruits and grenadine - uncommon fruits in the Philippines. A fellow tourist, a Vietnamese now living in Paris, bought quite a few dragon fruits, remarking how expensive these are back in France. He helped us haggle for a kilo of grenadine and dragon fruits, reminding us always that its a common practice in Vietnam.
We went inside the main building looking for some face masks that are quite common among the commuters here. Inside are more stuff, a variety of merchandise from powdered soaps to brooms. Judging from the looks others in our group, this must have been an interesting sight, something new. I swore I did not feel like a foreigner in this place.
The Mekong Delta region is one of the fruit and vegetable baskets of Vietnam, and its quite evident here. They say if you want to know more about a place, then go to its market.
One the way back to the bus I came across an interesting item: a big motorbike with a soldier's helmet hung over one end of its handle bar. I have not seen that much reminder of the old war in the country side and even in Saigon (expect probably in the War Museum in Saigon, if one wants to be reminded).
They say that the Vietnamese did not choose to forget about the war, but more like they know nothing good can come out of dwelling in the past. They are not vindictive and do not display animosity towards the "Joes" who once leveled their country side (especially in the north). I could almost hear someone say to an American: "Hey you dropped tons of bombs, napalmed our forest, left countless land mines in our fields, and poisoned us with Agent Orange, but its all in the past. Now lets drink chả and cà phê đá".