To Phung Hiep, visitors will see thousands of small boats full of agricultural products from Western corners to form 1km long floating market. It's said to be a fruit-market of the Southern part and the market is cultural identity of the Mekong Delta.
The market meets all day long, but most noisy and busy in the morning. The precious evening, from far-and-wide, boats full of seasonal vegetables and fruits: mangoes, durians, bananas, oranges, coconuts... left their villages to head for the sunrise market. Every boat is full of fruits. Some boats are covered with roofs, some are not. On boats without roofs, the sellers have to hold high a stick hanging with fruits as signals. Market-goers do not bargain, just a few words exchange, they sell and get paid. Normally, fruits are sold and brought to big boats. Then they will be transported to fruit-processing factories or to Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau, even to Hanoi and Northern provinces.
It's a floating market' but services are available, foods and drinks on small boats twist and turn to serve hungry sellers and buyers. Signal to buy is only a whistling or waving band. Apart from fruits, local products: snakes, birds, turtles... are easy to find near Phung Hiep bridge. These specialties are almost bought and brought to restaurants in Can Tho or Ho Chi Minh City.
The atmosphere in Phung Hiep market was exciting, as we witnessed snake traders fearfully transferring poisonous copperheads, kraits, and rattlesnakes, from their cages to purchaserâ€™s jute bags.
The price for a snake ranges from tens of thousands of dong for individual specimens, to hundreds of thousands of dong per kilogram. One kilogram of water snakes is priced at VND30, 000-VND50, 000 (US$1.88 - $3.13); while copperheads sell for between VND50, 000-VND400, 000 ($3.13 - $25) per kilo.
Second to the snakes in quantity at Phung Hiep market are wild birds. All species favoured by urban gastronomers such as cao, cu dat, stork, blosh dove, moorcook, and la mia, are sold at the market.
Birds are hanged up on the motorbikes of bird hunters from rural areas and confined in narrowed cages. Thousands of birds are purchased each hour, and transported to â€œheadquartersâ€ for retail sale to restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and southwestern provinces.
Phung Hiep Snake Market, located close to the floating market, is known worldwide. Visitors from all over the world go there to taste the snake liquor and see the dangerous snake dance.