Day 6- The floating market

January 12th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Knowing that today was our first and only 24 hours in Can Tho, we arose for an early start. Waking up shortly before sunrise, we gathered ourselves before heading down to the docking area. The Can Tho Tourist boat was awaiting our arrival, and we scurried down the shaky planks after taking a few pictures with the locals. The ten minute boat ride seemed artistic from every angle. The sky-high working cranes and man-made bridges hovered above the muggy water. Alongside the tributary was life in contrast: this was the Vietnam we had been waiting to see. The makeshift, river houses were lined with makeshift gardens: the makeshift porches lined with character. House sides of grey concrete were stained with water; stained with life on the tributary.

As we made our way to the Floating Market, we were the most obvious tourists of all. Our boat was filled with different colors and shapes, and the locals noticed; however, they smiled and waved and were seemingly entertained at our presence. I was entertained at our presence, even. When we reached the floating market, we were approached by tiny wooden boats with tires on the front (see: bumper) offering goods like Vietnamese bananas, the small finger-like ones; a variety of beers, Tiger being the most popular; and mangos and such.  An intentionally adorable Vietnamese boy enticed our whole boat, and what began as a photo op ended as a business transaction as we all bought something. Talk about marketing! An 8 year old boy holding beers out for sale; an epic sight for foreigners.  It was also neat to see the different boats advertise their product by hanging a couple on a long wooden pole so navigating the market was much more easy.

On the way back, everyone was smitten with the organic experience. Our tour leader, a Vietnamese student named David from Can Tho university, explained the Mekong Delta and life for the people along the water. The market opens in the early hours of the morning. By 5 a.m., people are selling and buying, and not long after boats can be spotted carrying a single good in bulk back to their village to sell for a profit.

So in comparing this floating market with a more advanced food market, where do markets competitive advantage truly lie? Looking ahead to the future, “the need to continuously improve” and gain competitive advantage within the market place is omnipresent (Law).  But does this competitive advantage increase with the acceptance of new technologies, or does it ultimately stagnant because of? In the manufacturing industries, there remains a great need for improved information and communication technology, so technology is a necessity rather than an advantage for many countries, at this point. In Vietnam, technology will serve as an advantage for only so long.

Generally speaking, in the food industries, “there has been a major shift in the structure of food distribution in South East Asia from small independent stores supplied by wholesale markets to supermarkets suppliers by contracted producers and manufactures” (Cadilhon). Nevertheless,the entrepreneurial spirit of the floating market and the uniqueness of its infrastructure give it the biggest competitive advantage of all; novel appeal. The agricultural aspect of every country is an easily overlooked importance. In an age of excess, it is easy to forget where our most basic needs come from; furthermore, who they come from. As we progress in the business world, it is important to look toward the future for innovation and change, much of the reason that the Vietnamese have succeeded so quickly. However, if we want to not only progress, but also remain stable, it is vital that we sometimes look backwards to remind ourselves of the value and difference between the necessary and the unnecessary.