As I started typing this up, the Missus peered over my shoulder; "no, not another market!"
She: "Just how many markets are you going to do posts on?"
Me: "All of the markets we visited."
She: "I am soooo over all these market posts."
Sigh, so yes, it is but another market post. I believe that each market we visited had it's own personality, and told me much about the towns, villages, and cities we visited. Cho Sapa was no different. It may have been smaller than all the others we visited, but I learned a bit.
The Sapa Market is located right off the main street down a set of crowded slippery steps, or the down the alleyway lined with produce a block further.
And though the market has a nice section of fruit.
We noticed most of it was being unloaded from large trucks early in the morning, coming from elsewhere. It was the sparkling fresh vegetables that really caught our attention.
In spite of the fact that we had already spent over a week in Vietnam, our internal clocks were still off kilter. But one of the benefits of jet lag, was rising early. Walking around Sapa Market in the morning, you could see the fresh vegetables arriving.
By motorbike and by foot.
Up the steep hills from the green valleys below.
The slow procession of fresh, green produce made its way to the market.
If this were San Diego, people would be going ga-ga over this stuff.
I found these very fresh young and tender bamboo shoots to be inspiring, as you will find out later on in this post.
And though I found many similarities to the steep climbs we had in Cusco.
I never saw anything like this old man carrying a bed frame up the hill from Cat Cat Village!
Or the "meat delivery".....
I noticed something very interesting at Sapa Market. All the butchers were women, and they worked with such skill and precision.
You knew they were not to be trifled with.
There was only one or two vendors selling fish.
But I managed to snap this photo of some very alive Rice Paddy Crabs, since I know they have many fans in the States.
Later on in the day, the area around the market steps comes alive with prepared food. You can find Banh My, Banh Bao, and other snacks. One booth had long sausages coiled up, it was a nice variety to go along with the offerings from the "food court" in the center of the market. This booth had a variety of cut and shredded pork.
The item below is quite interesting. We had been told about it, but had never seen it until our last day in Sapa. H'mong Smoked Pork.
It's not very surprising that the H'mong smoke a good amount of meat, since it looked like many of the homes in the villages we visited lacked electricity, and thus refrigeration. Smoking is probably common practice as a means of preservation.
Of course to some, this is just another day at the office.
Even the little things, like the little coal cylinders used for the stoves. The Missus mentioned them as being part of Her childhood in Qingdao. No central heating then, so the coal was used for the stoves, and the long lasting radiant heat for warming the family during the cold, Qingdao winter nights. Not to romanticize the whole thing, I'm quite happy with modern conveniences. But as a child of Hawaii, I am forever fascinated about these type of things.
We returned to Sapa from our overnight trip to the Can Cau Market and Bac Ha feeling a bit tired. We wanted something a bit more comforatable than the rooms at the Mountain View Hotel. After checking out a few places, we decided that a back room at the Auberge Dang Trung would fulfill our needs. The price? $18/US per night.
The room we had was quiet, though it was a bit of a march up several flights of winding stairs, and through a raised courtyard.
After stowing our stuff, the Missus and I were a bit hungry, but we weren't ready to face the hoards of hawkers on the streets trying to sell us stuff. We decided to grab a bite at the hotel's restaurant/lobby/bar/tour office....or whatever you may want to call it. The Missus had one condition; "no more pork, or even meat for that matter." Say what? No meat?
The menu was an interesting hodge-podge of almost everything. In fact, we noticed that many French tourists eat here. They all seemed to order the "ohme-let-te"; fried eggs with a baguette.
We started with the stir-fried vegetable of the day. Which ended up being cabbage. Ehhh. But what should I have expected for 10,000 VND (less than $1)?
The rice was also typical of what we had in Vietnam, unpolished, off-white, with little gritty bits.
The stif fried noodles with vegetables was decent, mainly because I really enjoyed the soy sauce that was used for the dish. (20,000 VND - approx $1.50)
I scoured the menu for something that I thought would be good. Having seen the lovely fresh bamboo shoots at the market, I ordered the stir fried version, in hopes that it would be fresh bamboo shoots ($15,000 VND - approx $1). And these delivered mightily. If you've never had fresh bamboo shoots, you're missing something good. The texture was a wonderful mild crunch, followed by an almost meaty bite.
Simply seasoned with some decent quality soy sauce and black pepper, this hit the spot. In fact, we made sure to have this again before we left Sapa. Not a bad meal for 50,000VND(a tad over $3/US).
While we were walking around Sapa, we took a ton of photos. Here's an interesting one; the Pink Floyd Bar & Restaurant, in Sapa? Somehow, I can't make the connection between The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon and Sapa. Hmmm, maybe Animals? There must be a story behind this......