- Encounters with locals
In Bac Ha, in the north-west of Vietnam, we headed towards the "traditional" market.
The stalls selling fabric and the costumes of the local ethnic minorities made it very colourful. Walking down the alley ways we found heaps of different objects that were more or less authentic. We bought fabric, jewellery, etc... A bit further on you could even bargain for the purchase of chicks, puppies, or buffalo! Those weren't really practical souvenirs to bring back in our suitcase but we found lots of other pretty things.
It's a shame that the covered market further up was more like an exhibition than a real market... However, the Vietnamese are very welcoming and happy to be photographed if you ask nicely.
During my trip to northern Vietnam, I stopped off at Bac Ha to experience the market, and that's something I'll never regret! This market is so famous that you will definitely not be the only tourists walking around its lively streets in the morning. The mix of ethnic minorities in the town is fascinating, and I remember exactly when I first noticed in amazement the brightly coloured costumes and hairstyles that were each more amazing than the last!
A guide can point out exactly who is Hmong, Dao, Day or any other ethnic minority. Personally, I didn't ponder the issue too much and simply enjoyed their authentic beauty, their hospitality, and the smiles of the women. I was smitten!
They sell cloth, alcohol, meat, animals, jewellery - basically almost anything! I snacked on sweet, fried bread rolls, which were delicious! I also tried some rice wine with some Hmong women - and it's definitely something to be enjoyed responsibly!
In the area surrounding Bac Ha, I ws told that hiking the trails is also an option. The countryside is covered in terraced rice paddies and dotted with rural villages.
During my trip to Vietnam, I visited the north of the country and chose Sapa as the base camp for my treks.
Only 3 hours away by bus there is the Bac Ha's amazing Sunday market. It's the most most beautifully picturesque that I have seen in Asia. You can find just about anything that is sold in Vietnam there. Dogs, cats, snakes - what you expect in fact!
In the streets there are some blokes smoking bamboo pipes and others drinking rice alcohol which is 60° proof. They've only got to open the jerry can for the smell to impregnate the whole area.
In the market there are lots of Hmong in their wonderfullly colourful costumes. Generally when I shop in markets I like to buy unusual products but here the clothes that are beautifully embroidered with flowers, attract everyone. It's a paradise for photographers. The Hmong are very photogenic and their children love posing for photos and looking at themselves on the screen.