Flashback: Life on the water 20 years ago in southern Vietnam

By Phong Duy   August 22, 2017 | 11:59 pm PT
The simple yet unique daily life in Can Tho was beautifully captured by Belgian photographer Harry Gruyaert.

In 1994, Harry Gruyaert visited Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta, and the Belgian photographer was soon captivated by daily life on the waterways. Thanks to his shots, we can take a look back at how life used to be in Can Tho.


Life on the water has not changed in Can Tho for over two decades. Men, women and children still spend most of their lives on boats, rather than a concrete house.


Children play in the river. Back in the 1990s, this was a common sight across the Mekong Delta.


Business was booming for tailors 20 years ago. Back then, people in southern Vietnam had many of their clothes tailor-made because jeans and T-shirts were not as popular or affordable as they are today.


Women gather for breakfast in the market. Dishes like com tam (broken rice) and hot noodle soup are still a staple start to the day for many southerners.


A porter on a boat. Born in 1941, Gruyaert is now a member of Magnum Photos, an international photographic cooperative owned by its members, with offices in New York City, Paris, London and Tokyo.


A waitress in a restaurant. Can you spot the product placement?


A wet market. Unlike today when poultry is already processed, packed and ready to go at the market, the birds were sold alive and the cook had to take care of the rest two decades ago.


Men sitting together for morning coffee. Nothing changes, right?


Bicycles loaded with bird cages, a familiar scene in southern Vietnam in the 90s. Raising caged birds and training them remains a hobby for many Vietnamese  today.

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