The markets in North Vietnam offer great cultural diversity. Flower Hmong, White Hmong, Black Hmong, Thay, Thai or Dzao are selling their stuff on different days of the week. There are even backward markets, those markets are held every week one day back, so if this week’s market is scheduled for Sunday, next week the market will be on Saturday, then Friday…A row of ambulant barbers is placed on the sidewalk and take care of their customers while shoppers flock around in search of new trends, tribal clothes or just their weekly grocery. Most of those markets have one thing in common, ethnic teenagers are dressing up to attract the other gender, since the size of the small communes and distances in between makes it hard for them to find the “right one”. Nevertheless in most cases the parents choose the “right one”. There are cows, puppies or birds changing ownership. Some market ladies reminded me on witch doctors offering their alternative medicine such as indefinable roots, dried mushrooms, wood bark or certain parts of fluffy animals. There is 3-5 years old rice wine waiting in jerrycans for shoppers to try and buy. As a highlight for the fancy dressed White Hmong a lot stack of colorful cloth is waiting.

Take Bac Ha, where every weekend a row of ambulant barbers conquer the sidewalk to take care of their customers while shoppers flock around in search of new trends, tribal clothes or just their weekly grocery. Most of those markets have one thing in common, ethnic teenagers are dressing up to attract the other gender, since the size of the small communes and distances in between makes it hard for them to find the “right one”. Nevertheless in most cases the parents choose the “right one”. There are cows, puppies or birds changing ownership. Some market ladies reminded me on witch doctors offering their alternative medicine such as indefinable roots, dried mushrooms, wood bark or certain parts of fluffy animals. There is 3-5 years old rice wine waiting in jerrycans for shoppers to try and buy. As a highlight for the fancy dressed White Hmong, stacks of clothes are on sale.

All markets offer a glimpse of the ethnic life and it is 100 percent authentic, there is no show for tourists. It’s more like a weekly event for the shoppers and for the sellers. People do business in the early morning, than go to eat Pho togehter (the typical noodle soup of Vietnam), smoke the bamboo pipe and venture back home. Some bought a cow, some a jerrycan of rice wine, some a bunch of glimmery cloths and some might have found a new partner. However, the most memorable part was “the bad taste party” I encountered in village like Dong Van or Lung Cu. While the Black Hmong and the Flower Hmong have a flair for color combinations, their colleagues prefer the bizarre way. The White Hmong mix golden sequins with green pencil skirts, combine bright tones with pastel ruffles and mummify their head with a colorful woolen scarf.