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Ho Chi Minh City’s signature insect market breaks night silence

Sunday, November 22, 2020, 10:36 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City’s signature insect market breaks night silence
Vo Van Tanh (right), a trader from Tay Ninh Province, and his elder brother transport sacks of insects to the location of the insect market. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Lasting just two hours every early morning and having no specific name, a traditional market in Ho Chi Minh City still offers unique experiences due to its animated atmosphere and unusual products – insects.

At 4:00 am every day, people flock to the crossroads of Truong Chinh and Che Lan Vien Streets in Tan Binh District to join the unique market selling various insects such as grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and worms.

The market session always comes with bustling sounds as traders are as busy as a bee to secure timely deliveries to their customers in the city.

Most traders at the market buy insects from the border area of Moc Bai in southern Tay Ninh Province to sell to their wholesale customers.

Every day, trucks carrying insects arrive there at 4:00 am and return to the southern locality at 6:00 am, giving traders only two hours to unload the products and distribute them to clients.

Due to the short market session, traders must be ready and quick in classifying insects, putting them into sacks and arranging the packages tidily on the sidewalk.

Some even put insects in small plastic bags as requested by their regular customers or select some fresh products for their own pets.

The insects are priced at VND60,000 (US$2.5) per kilo, which will be used to feed birds, fish, and cocks.

“Normally, the insects live no longer than 24 hours, so I sell to wholesale customers every day," Vo Van Tanh, a trader from Tay Ninh, shared.

"I also sell [insects] to traders along the way from Tay Ninh to Saigon at VND60,000 a kilo.”

According to the man, he has been doing this job for 10 years, adding that the hardest thing is to stay up late and travel a long way day after day.

"At 11:00 pm, I started packing insects into sacks or small plastic bags before the market session. I’ve got used to doing this after such a long time,” Tanh added.

The intersection of Truong Chinh and Che Lan Vien Streets in Tan Binh District turns busy at 4 am with many insect sellers and buyers. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

The intersection of Truong Chinh and Che Lan Vien Streets in Tan Binh District turns busy at 4:00 am every morning with many insect sellers and buyers. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Locusts are sold at VND5,000 (21 US cents) for every two bags. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

Locusts are sold at VND5,000 (22 U.S. cents) for every two bags. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

An Asian grass lizard is sold at VND4,000 (12 US cents) at the market. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

An Asian grass lizard is sold at VND4,000 (17 U.S. cents) at the market. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Kim Nhung, a trader from Tay Ninh Province, said that the insects must be delivered to customers quickly so as they will stay alive and fresh. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

Tran Thi Kim Nhung, a trader from Tay Ninh Province, said that the insects must be delivered to customers quickly so they will stay alive and fresh. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Hoang Dong from Tay Ninh Province loads insect bags onto a truck. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Hoang Dong from Tay Ninh Province handle insect bags. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Aside from wholesalers, normal buyers can shop for insects at the market. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

Aside from wholesalers, normal buyers can shop for insects at the market as well. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A market session lasts only two hours each day. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/Tuoi Tre

A market session lasts only two hours each day. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

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