For the previous episode look here
Early Sunday morning we packed up and left the hotel. We set out for Bac Ha, about 3 hours away, where the largest market for the ethnic minorities in northern Vietnam is located. We drove along roads that had huts and banana plants and rice terraces and lots of lots of life as people walked and biked along the roads. Children played outside. Older children in their school uniforms walked or rode bikes to school. It is a country on the move.
The market at Bac Ha is a place to buy all sorts of things. Local people come there to buy clothing, linens, sewing supplies, hardware, fruits, vegetables, fish (mostly dried), nuts, noodles, and meat– pretty much everything. They socialize and there is a festive atmosphere. They also buy that most famous household pet: the water buffalo.
Water buffalo are, of course, very valuable because they are the closest that most people get to mechanized farming equipment in most of Vietnam– actually in most of the far east. The water buffalo are domesticated and very gentle and friendly.
It was interesting to see lots of combinations of traditional and contemporary. We saw girls in native dress checking their mobile phones.
We saw people walking around wearing their motorcycle helmets.
We looked for interesting things to buy. We found silk sleeping bags– small pouches made of silk with a sheet inside that one could crawl into with an attached pillow cover. We found belts with zippers that when zipped up became small purses. We bought them from a little girl who was fascinated with my husband’s beard and with a big smile took out a comb and attempted to comb it!
As we walked through the market, we saw our travelers walking too, smiling and enjoying the sights and sounds. There are more pictures of this market in this post. It was a feast for the eyes.
After our experience there, we got on the bus and went to a local village. More about that next time when we answer these questions: Why can’t we simply say the name of the village? What does a normal kitchen in the village look like? and most important… what is the special significance in this village of the phrase “and a little child shall lead them”?
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