The Canberra Times –
It’s early on a Saturday morning and the sun is only just starting to rise when I wake in my room beside the Hua River, in the Mekong Delta.
But in this region of southwestern Vietnam, this is no time for a lazy sleep-in. I need to be on a boat to the area’s largest floating market by 7am, or risk missing the peak of trading activity and having fresh local produce for breakfast.
For the traders, who have already been there a few hours, the stakes are much higher. The fate of about 21.5 million people in this region rests largely on the vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands that form the Mekong Delta. Agriculture provides food security and a livelihood for many, with rice production and farming two dominant industries and the waterways used to transport and sell goods. Rice sediment turns the water murky brown, or as locals say, “the colour of money”.
Others rely on the water to make a different sort of living, and one of those – Can Tho River Tour guide Johnny – is waiting for me on a boat outside Azerai Can Tho, a luxury five-star resort on a private island in the delta.