Kapoors Year 5: Right Round The World travel blog

The Day Was Cool And It Was Drizzling But The Clouds Weren't...

I Loved Seeing The Flooded Rice Paddies And Off In The Distance,...

We Stopped Briefly For A Photo At The Chinese Border, We Couldn't...

The Road North Of Bac Ha Was In Terrible Shape And We...

Our Driver Was Most Unhappy With The Muddy Road, And I Could...

The Construction Zone Lasted Only A Few Kilometres And At Last The...

As We Got Out Of The Vehicle, I Noticed A Group Of...

We Had Driven For Days To Get To This Market, And It...

Puzzled, I Turned My Attention To The Market And The Women In...

Here A Woman With An Equally Colourful Baby Carrier Is Busy Purchasing...

The Women At The Market Came Better Prepared Than Us, They Are...

Most Of The Hill Tribe People Here Are Members Of The Flower...

I Studied Their Clothing Carefully, Trying To Determine How It Was Constructed,...

They Seem To Wear A Long Embroidered Skirt, A Separate Apron Front...

The Clothing On The Children Seems To Mimic The Adult Clothing, But...

We Came Loaded With Small Wrapped Candies, David Gave Some To This...

She Didn't Know How To Open The Twisted Wrappers, You Can See...

I Thought The Headscarves Were Different Colours For A Reason, But Here...

We Started Walking Into The Covered Part Of The Market, And Stalls...

Most Shawls Had Stand Up Collars, This One Is A Completely Different...

These Shawls Are Also Very Colourful, But They Are Machine Made And...

We Were Enjoying Ourselves Immensely, But These Little Dolls Really Put A...

Then David Saw The Stuffed Turtles Made With Traditional Embroidered Clothing And...

These Toys Are Obviously Made For The Tourist Market, But We Couldn't...

David Is A Sucker For Turtles, And If You Know Me, You'll...

And Then Anil Spotted a Croc-o-dile, And We Had To Take A...

The Outer Edges Of The Market Were All Devoted To Tourist Souvenirs,...

Many Of The Women Wear These Small Bags Around Their Necks And...

These Cotton Shawls Appear To Be Hand Woven, But I Wasn't At...

We Were Told These Unusual Pipes Are For Smoking Tobacco, But David...

These Beautiful Elongated Collar Pieces Are Worn By Different Hill Tribe Women,...

Items Of All Shapes And Sizes Made From The Traditional Embroidered Cloth,...

More Shawls In A Different Style Once Again, Something For Everyone Who...

Here You Can See That The Traditional Outfit Also Includes Embroidered Cuffs...

The Market Started Just After Dawn, And By Late Morning Was Beginning...

As We Walked Through The Market, We Were All Wishing We Were...

A Visitor From Singapore Wisely Bought Some Boots For Herself At The...

No Boots For These Visitors To The Market, They Just Have To...

It Was Time To Plunge Into The Centre Stalls Of The Market...

There Were Still Plenty Of Women Shopping, Perhaps They Had Sold Their...

It Seems That Many Of The Women Selling The Consumer Goods Are...

A Baby Girl Dressed In City Clothes Was Very, Very Unhappy, But...

This Little Girl Is Clearly A Flower H'mong, Come With Her Family...

When I Took A Closer Look, I Was Surprised To See That...

When I Got A Lot Closer To A Woman With A Baby...

In Many Cases It Was The Grandmother Who Was Tending To The...

This Little One Is Munching On The Traditional Sweet, Sugar Cane Brought...

The Young Men Seemed To Hover Near The Edges Of The Market,...

This Women Is Hoping To Sell The Last Of Her Red Hot...

Another Is Selling Incense, I'm Not Sure If She Has Made It...

This Young Boy Seems To Have Been Put In Charge Of Selling...

These Two Friends Were Having A Great Laugh About Something While They...

This Woman Seems To Be All Done Her Marketing And Is Ready...

It Was Unusual To See Elderly Men At The Market, But This...

He Didn't Seem To Mind When I Asked To Take His Photo,...

His Friend Was Standing Nearby And We Gave Them Some Candy Too,...

I Could See The Smoke Rising From The Eating Stalls On A...

We Headed Down The Muddy Slope, Peering In The Food Stalls On...

Many Of The Visitors Had All Ready Eaten, The Market Was Beginning...

I Didn't See Any Men Eating, Just Women And Children, The Men...

The Women Seem Used To Visitors Taking Their Photos, But The Men...

It Has Probably Been A Very Long Time Since Breakfast, The Women...

It Looks Like Anything Goes When Putting Colours Together, This Woman Has...

Ah, There's The Green I Was Missing, It Is March After All!

Did I Mention Green? This Little Girl Will Have The Luck Of...

There, The Bowl Is Empty And The Tummy Is Full, Time To...

These Young Women Were Setting Off When This Shy Young Man Stopped...

These Two Have Babies On Their Backs, Their Courting Days Are Well...

This Man Wanted Me To Take His Photo, He Had A Fat...

The Cooking Pots And Utensils Are Packed Up And Ready To Go...

Just Another Shot Of The Women, I Loved How She Is Holding...

Blue Jeans Peeping Out Below Printed Skirts And School Jackets, The Modern...

This Mother Is Gathering Up Her Three Children, Hoping To Sell The...

Babies On Their Backs, These Mothers Begin To Make Their Way Out...

I Followed Them For A Ways, But Stopped To Admire These Beautiful...

This Little Boy Passed Me, The Biggest Smile On His Face, His...

The Sugar Cane Is Almost Gone, But Perhaps These Ladies Will Buy...

Some Things Sold, Some Things Bought, Another Saturday Market Is Over And...

Just As I Was About To Head For Our Vehicle, This Young...

These Two Photos Of Her Made Our Whole 9-Day Trip To The...

As We Were Leaving, I Turned To Look At The Valley Again...

All The Vehicles Had Really Churned Up The Road And This Local...

When This Innova Van Made It By The Stranded Bus, We Knew...


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BACKGROUND

The Flower H’mong and Blue H’mong trek into Can Cau for their weekly Saturday morning markets. There are semi-permanent market stalls that spill down the steep sides of the valley 12km north of the town of Bac Ha, and very near the Chinese border. The animals are offered for sale in the lowest part of the market, the cookhouses sit higher up the slope and the produce, clothing, tools and farming implements are arranged on tables under blue tarpaulin roofs on the level of the muddy road.

Few outsiders venture this far from Sapa, but clearly tourism is increasing because many of the items that would interest foreign visitors are arranged in stalls around the outskirts of the market.

KAPOORS ON THE ROAD

As we descended out of Sapa we travelled below the level of the clouds and the visibility improved tremendously. We stopped briefly at the Chinese border to take a quick photo but we didn’t waste more time than that. The market at Can Cau is held in the mornings and by early afternoon, the hill tribe people are beginning to pack up and make their way home on foot.

We knew that we would be leaving the highway and travelling along a secondary road, but we hadn’t anticipated that the road was being ‘improved’ and that for the time being, it was a very muddy track and in places it was very difficult to negotiate the slopes. It had clearly rained much of the night before and those on motorbikes were having a particularly hard time.

I hadn’t made the best choice of clothing for the day, wearing light coloured trousers, but at least I was inside a vehicle and wasn’t being splattered with mud. When we arrived at the market, we stepped out into a light drizzle so we headed quickly towards the covered areas of the market and began to wander along admiring the handicrafts on display. We were watched politely and quietly by the vendors, there was no pressure to buy at all.

Wouldn’t I have loved a huge duffle bag so that I could stuff it with some of the wonderful textiles displayed before me? Of course, I’m not into buying handicrafts after spending almost a year getting rid of all that I’ve collected over the years, but my camera comes in really handy for taking photos of some of the items I admired.

After some time, I turned my lens on the wonderful people at the market, making every effort not to take photos of people’s faces if I felt they would rather not be photographed. I have found in the past, that if there is a grandmother carrying a beloved grandchild, they often agree to me taking a photo of the two of them together. I have also noticed that many of the old men seem to be very much ignored by photographers, and when motion as if to ask if I can take a picture, I usually get a big smile in return.

While we had read that we could expect to see beautifully dressed women from both the Flower and Blue H’mong tribes, it appeared that none of the Blue H’mong women were at the market the day we visited. I did a search on the Internet after our return to the hotel, and I could see that the clothing styles of the Blue H’mong are definitely different from the outfits we had seen at Can Cau.

We were not the only foreigners at the Can Cau market that day, but there weren’t too many of us. I did have a chat with a young woman visiting from Hong Kong when I stopped to admire her brightly coloured rubber boots. Unlike all of the hill tribe women, her skirt was very short while theirs were long, but at least she had the sensibility to wear tights and not arrive with bare legs.

During the hour and a half that we wandered around the market, we could see that most of the buying and selling had been completed, many villagers had eaten their fill at the cook houses and others were beginning to set off home with their purchases and the items that would have to wait to be sold the following Saturday.

As I made my way towards our waiting vehicle, I came upon a young girl standing above the muddy road on a high rock. She had her hands tucked into her belt and the most serene look on her face. When I moved along a little further, I could see that she had a baby brother or sister in a carrier on her back. The baby was sound asleep, snug and warm with a knitted cap on its head.

I had taken dozens of photos in the market that day, but the photos of this little girl will always remind me of Can Cau, and will definitely remain my favourite.

On the way back to the main highway, we found that the departing vehicles had really churned up the mud and made progress almost impossible. Our hearts sank when we saw the local bus get stuck and the passengers begin to get down to stand nearby. Our driver wasn’t keen to try and pass the bus, but the mist was beginning to close in and it was getting very gloomy.

We were getting a little concerned when a van overtook us and went boldly past the bus on the left-hand side. Once we knew that it had made it through, we knew we could as well, and we plunged on into the mud. It was a huge relief to get back to Sapa and our warm hotel. We made no attempt to explore the town as the fog and light rain wasn’t the least bit inviting.

We had come to see the Can Cau market and tomorrow we were pushing on to visit the weekly Sunday market at Bac Ha. We’ll just have to come to Sapa another time, preferably during the warmer, drier months of the year. After all, it was during those very months that the French vacated Hanoi to enjoy the fresh air in the mountains. Too bad our itinerary forced us to come under less than ideal conditions.

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