Sa Pa day 2: Among the Hmong

One of the best (and most popular) things to do while in Sa Pa is to visit the day markets held by different ethnic groups. These are not in downtown Sa Pa but various locations some distance away depending on the day of the week. We were able to visit the Tuesday Cốc Ly market that is mainly populated by the H’Mông Hoa (Flower Hmong) tribe. (As mentioned in the previous post, Sa Pa is home to many ethnic minority groups such as H’Mông, Dao Đỏ, Tày, Giáy, and Xã Phó. Sylvie and I belong to the main and biggest tribe called Kinh.)

Apart from their ethnic tongue and traditions, you can distinguish a tribal man by his attires and head gears (or tribal woman to be exact, since all the men we saw seemed to have adopted modern clothing). It was a real pity we did not have more to time to spend in the area. I find the tribes very fascinating and would have love to photograph all the different colorful attires!

The men smoking tobacco the old fashioned way
Livestock were also being sold at this market

Our driver/tour guide (we have a different one for every city) then took us on a journey down the picturesque misty Chay river after showing us the China-Viet Nam border.

That’s China behind them

We made a stop at a nameless sleepy village on the riverside that seemed to be stuck in time. The quiet dirt paths were too narrow for cars but not for the buffalo-pulled carts. The only sounds that disturbed the peace were those of the cluster of chickens pecking, not a TV or radio. The water buffalo still roam the rice paddies and there is a certain tranquility in the air that cannot be found elsewhere.

We took a break at this little coffee shop and I wandered around taking pictures. When I came back 5 minutes later Brandon has somehow integrated himself into the owner’s family and was sharing a meal with them. How very typical of him.

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