Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Market

Flower H'mong flood the streets.

In Bac Ha, east of Sapa, is a weekly Sunday market that we had heard was an event not to miss. This was an understatement. 
We step off of the bus into a street filled with color. The Flower H'mong are in town and with them they have brought beauty in every direction.

Raw meats, waiting for buyers

We stroll through the bustling market, the town's major source of commerce. All around, people are socializing, negotiating prices, and eating varieties of fresh foods.

Deep fried rice snacks
The meat market catches my eye, fresh cuts of beef, pork, chicken , and other four-legged mammals, are spread over large wooden tables. The sight would be a nightmare for a health inspector in The States. There's a commotion as men crowd around a table, apparently bets are made on how many hacks it will take to cut through a piece of pork. 

Goods and money change from hand to hand and everywhere we look there are people enjoying the weekly occurrence.It's more of a social event, it seems, than anything.The local tribes have all concentrated here and the combination of the colorful market goods and the striking outfits makes the scene worthy of a masterpiece. I can't take enough pictures. 

On the hill above town.
 On the hill above the market is where animals, primarily water buffalo, are inspected by picky buyers. I feel a remorse for the large beasts of burden, as they wait to be purchased,
but they will spend their days working in the surrounding hills, and will subsequently be well fed.
Selling herbal medicines.
After browsing for three hours, and reveling at the variety of goods, I imagine that anything a person could need would be found here. From fruits and vegetables, to coffee and spices, herbal medicines, to handmade clothing and jewelry, meats and live fish, tools and contraptions, everything is in surplus.
Surplus of veggies
Baby sleeps while Mom eats Pho.

In the center of the excitement are 100 or so tables all owned by different families. Fresh noodle soup, the infamous Vietnamese Pho, is being served to the patrons sitting at the tables. Meat is cut
right from a fresh hog leg and put into the soup, ladled from a giant pot boiling over open flame. Small limes are squeezed over the soup and small hot peppers and pepper sauce is added for an extra zing. We sit and enjoy the food and the scene simultaneously.

As the afternoon turns to evening, the crowd disperses and people pack their goods to go home. By dark the streets have metamorphosed from a flooded, chaos of color, to a sparsely populated, average mountain town.It's hard to beleive that we are in the same town that was home to the most dazling local market Iv'e ever seen. The week will surely pass with uneventful daily routeins. It's quiet now, until next Sunday.

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