Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

By Huu Khoa   January 23, 2020 | 03:24 pm GMT+7
Dozens of boats laden with thousands of flowering Mekong Delta plants lie docked at Saigon’s Binh Dong Wharf, forming a unique market open only once per year.
Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

In the lead up to Tet, the country’s biggest and most important festival, boats filled with flowers and plants from the Mekong Delta provinces of Ben Tre, Tien Giang and Dong Thap gather around the wharf in District 8, around 30 minutes from the city center to sate the festive demand.

The market has grown to become an indispensable part of Tet celebrations in Saigon in recent years.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Around 50 boats have docked along Tau Hu Canal over the past two weeks to sell their best flowers and bonsai trees ahead of Tet. Most will head home this Friday, Lunar New Year’s Eve, as Vietnamese families gather in reunion.  

Vietnamese display vividly red and yellow flower pots in front of their homes to signify their wishes for a lucky and prosperous year, thus fertilizing the “lucky Tet tree” business.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Two workers transport a pot of yellow mai, the traditional New Year flower in southern Vietnam, from boat to land.

"This is the 21st year I have been selling Tet flowers at Binh Dong Wharf. This year, I brought along about 800 yellow mai trees, priced from VND200,000 ($8.6) to VND40 million ($1,730),” said Huynh Van Nam from Cho Lach Town in Ben Tre Province.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Ngo Thi Muoi, (second right), introduces small pots of yellow mai trees to customers. Muoi said she has sold around eight pots already, priced from VND1.2 million to VND2.5 million ($52-108), over the past week.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Cuc, 78, shows off a small pot of yellow mai she just bought at Binh Dong Wharf for VND250,000 ($11) to passers-by.

"My family has a kumquat tree and now a yellow mai tree too. That’s enough to usher in the Tet atmosphere," she said.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Gardeners take a rest in the afternoon.

A gardener said the price for renting a plot of land with a width of 6 meters costs VND5.5 million ($238). For many years now, many Mekong Delta families have invested all their money and effort in the Tet flower business.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Kumquat trees, which symbolize wealth in Vietnamese culture, are also brought from the Mekong Delta to Saigon to serve Tet.

For flower growers in the Mekong Delta, Tet is the most important time of year, and is an annual journey embarked on with great hopes.

Saigon’s floating flower market blooms for Tet alone

Late night, Ly Thanh Nam (R), from Tien Giang and his assistants bring pots of yellow mai trees from their boat onto land.

“The weather has been sunny and favorable, so the flowers will bloom right on time. I hope business will thrive and that I could return home soon,” Nam said.

 
 
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