Southerners might think of the Top End as being in idyllic juxtaposition with the South East of Asia; similarities between the two ending with the tropical climate they share. Southerners would be wrong in this thinking. It only takes a stroll through the authentically Asian Rapid Creek markets on Sunday to leave visitors scratching their heads. Is it Darwin that they have stumbled upon or a thronging Thailand street of vendors? The confusion is understandable; the heady mix of exotic spices and tropical fruits perfume the air, while the buzz of foreign chatter adds to the chaos. The chaos I speak of is not in a pandemonium sense, but more so an excited state of disorder. Hungry customers gather in disorganised queues for steaming bowls of Laksas, Vietnamese rice paper rolls and freshly made juices. More spectacular than some of the delicious culinary delights is the ability of the vendors to remember a multitude of orders.
The Rapid Creek shopping centre carpark becomes a makeshift dining area of sorts, where an array of simple white chairs and tables adorn the asphalt. Strangers sit in unison, sharing knowing nods of satisfaction over mouthfuls of pawpaw salad.
Apart from ready to devour meals, many locals have also set up stalls to sell their homegrown veggies, and the range of native Asian produce is mind-blowing. Papaya and dragon fruit share the same space as the usual Darwin suspects. Mango can be found when in season, while citrus fruits make regular appearances. In fact, the quality and taste is so specular that many prefer to shop here than in their local supermarket chain.
If you haven’t taken a walk through these markets, it is time to take the leap. In fact, if you just want to escape the humdrum of a repetitive Sunday arvo then transport yourself to Asia; or in this case Rapid Creek. All you must do when you get there is close your eyes, take a bite of your crispy Banh Mi and take your mind to Saigon.