Markets, Motorbikes and Moonshine

We’ve been to a lot of markets on this trip but the Bac Ha market in the north west corner of Vietnam, close to the border of China, is at the top of my list. Our pictures will give you a taste, but the Bac Ha market was an amazing fiesta of business and color added in large part by the dazzling clothing of the Flower H’mong people.

Apparently Bac Ha is a sleepy rural town during the week, but on Sundays it busts at the seams when people come from the many surrounding hill-tribe villages. They hawk moonshine by the gallon, buy ducklings in beer boxes, show off their fighting-cocks, sell an impressive variety of buffalo, even puppies and full grown dogs (I didn’t want to know which were for pets and which for the dinner table though I suspect there’s a cuteness correlation). There was much gossiping and showing off of new outfits to friends (and potential suitors) that they only see on market-day.

The Flower H’mong women and their outfits are truly stunning. With their densely embroidered fabric with layered skirts, an elaborate collar, a head scarf and even fabric ankle cuffs, we found ourselves staring a few times. For a textile loon like me, it’s an exciting place to people watch. And yes, buy fabric, which I did.

To get an early start at the market, we stayed in a village with a local family on Saturday night. They fed us well and plied us with their homemade hooch over and over again. You can’t say no! But to get to the Bac Ha area, we rode motorcycles (with drivers) for eight hours on Saturday from Sapa, Vietnam. It’s a stunning, but touristy, hillside town that looks onto valleys of rice terraces that you can see when the mist parts.

The eight-hour drive to get to Bac Ha was hands down the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on. It could easily be in National Geographic with all the hair-pin roads snaking through high mountain passes hour after hour.

I suspect that Josh didn’t mind all the sitting since he had just spent two days climbing Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam and all of Indo-China. All in all, north west Vietnam was a wonderful way to end our month long adventure to one of our favorite countries yet.

Click here to view the pictures if you’re on a smartphone.

3 Responses to “Markets, Motorbikes and Moonshine”
  1. Susan says:

    Great, and I mean GREAT, photos. Then again, not so much with the foodstuffs (was that snake I saw?) Loved the one of Sasha sitting on the steps. And it is clear you continue to have good taste in textiles. I do want to go here and just look at textiles. Love the fact that traditional dress persists.
    Thanks for sharing once again.

  2. Gillie says:

    Wounderful pictures the colours are fantastic.One of my favorite picture is of the 2 children and then the one of you and Josh jumping ;you still have energy.Not sure about the snake tray.Did you eat any?

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