Friday 8 December 2017

My Fourth Day In Sapa: Bac Ha Market

An experience not to be missed in Northern Vietnam is a visit to the ethnic minorities' market. There are a number of such markets and to see the best we had to venture out of Sapa. These markets operate only once a week and our pick was Bac Ha market as not only is it the biggest, it is also the most famous in the region. Bac Ha market which operates only on Sundays is located in the rural district of Bac Ha, about 100 km away from Sapa. The cheapest way for us to get to this market ensuring a safe and faster return back to Sapa was to hop onto an international group tour. We got our hotel to arrange this for us and paid only USD12 pp which would have otherwise cost many times more!
Even though Bac Ha is only 100 km from Sapa, it took close to 3 hours to reach the place. The mini bus that we travelled in was filled to the brim. Even the aisle had seats placed on it to maximise the number of passengers. It wasn't uncomfortable though as the bus was air-conditioned but the ambiance felt like the Tower of Babel as there were all types of nationalities, chit-chatting in French, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese, etc.
Bac Ha is a much smaller town compared to Sapa. Other than the market, it doesn't offer many other attractions. Coming all the way here, we took the opportunity to explore the few streets that make up the town.
Vu Van Mat Street which leads to the marketplace was a hive of activity with bus loads of visitors streaming in.
This market is a good place to get an insight into the authentic culture of the ethnic minorities living in the region. The market vendors are dominated by the tribal people like the Flower H’mong, the Tay, Dzao, Tu Zi, Nung, Phula, La Chi, Lo Lo,etc, each donning its own colorful attire making it one of the most radiant markets sights I have ever encountered.

These ehtnic minorities have travelled all the way from their respective villages to sell and to trade their wares from colorful household items to traditional intricately made clothing, from souvenirs to the essentials of everyday life including livestock, poultry, etc.

Walking around the marketplace was like a walk back in time. It was nice to see the market keeping to its century old tradition even though the tide of modernization has inevitably crept in. The people no longer travel around on horses like they used to as these have been replaced with motorbikes. Seeing an ethnic minority  communicating on mobile phone is also quite a common sight.

At the edge of the main market square is where livestock, poultry and other animals are being traded. I was of the opinion that the cute puppies would be bought as pets but Ronnie opined that they would be bought and raised for their meat as dogs are considered a delicacy among the Vietnamese. 
At the furthest end of the marketplace lies the buffalo market where many buffaloes were seen lazing around oblivious to their fate while the traders haggle over thier price!
Shall I take this back??😁😁😁
We spent about three hours at the market delving into the lifestyle of the local folks, trying out some authentic food. The cost of living in Bac Ha is obviously cheaper than in Sapa.

A Meal Of Thang Co (Horse Stew)
It took a lot of coaxing to get Ronnie to agree to a meal of Thang Co. He didn't like the idea of eating horse meat as he hasn't eaten it before. I've undergone an orientation with horse meat in Kazakhstan so I was more confident. Thang Co is a Bac Ha specialty dish of horse stew. It has all the parts of the horse thrown in including the innards and is stewed in herbs until very tender. I heard about this and was eager to try this dish in Bac Ha.
We sat among the locals at the food court of the marketplace. Using sign language, we got a bowl of Thang Co ordered. It came with a basket of fresh herbs and a small bowl of savory sauce. It was flavorful and tasty and Ronnie got used to the taste pretty fast. He even grew to love it and we finished the whole bowl of stew to the last drop.

We spent our time walking around to see what people sell and what they eat at the market place.

By 1pm, most vendors have packed up and left the market. As we were waiting for our bus to pick us up, it started to drizzle and we saw buffaloes that were unsuccessfully sold being pulled by their owners across the street to be walked back to the villages where they originally belong.

Related Posts:
1. Top Things To Do In Sapa, Vietnam
2. My First Day In Sapa: Trekking To Cat Cat Village
3.My Second Day In Sapa; Trekking To Muong Hoa Valley
4. My Third Day In Sapa: Visiting Hamrong Mountain
5. My Fourth Day In Sapa: Bac Ha Market
6. What And Where To Eat In Sapa

1 comment :

Veriuska said...

FYI: The dogs that the Vietnamese eat are not the puppies you see around as pets. It is a breed raised exclusively for eating, all the heads look alike. I do knot know the name, but they resemble an Australian Dingo or an American Coyote.

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