January 7, 2015

To Market to Market

To Market to Market

It all started with motorbike parts. Our first day on the motorbikes, we went into the market. The first street we turned down was nothing but bits and pieces of motorbikes. After all, it takes a lot of parts to keep the millions of 20 year old motorbikes running. From there we saw everything from television remote controls, to hand wound springs, to big pieces of metal being cut with very hot torch-like things.

It progressed to the food market. A vast array of over 1000 stalls carrying everything from dried sea cucumber to sea monkeys to wood ear mushrooms to live eels to every imaginable spice to picked, well, everything.

Two days ago in the smaller neighborhood market in the Mekong delta, we witnessed women buying fresh frogs. They were alive, until the seller whipped out their kitchen shears and took care of the head and their horny little toes. How do you top fresh frog in the morning? Hmmm, how about a stop at the rat market? Rats not your thing? How about fresh snake? I asked Long if the rats were cheap thinking thats what the poorer folk ate. No, “very expensive” They are a delicacy. These are “good rats from the fields, not the rats from the market.” OK, I don’t think I really wanted to hear that.

We visited the floating markets of Cai Be, where you can buy sweet potatoes, bananas, fish, and crabs in massive quantities off of boats from all around Southeast Asia.

We have ridden our bikes past countless tiny markets, sandwiched between two houses in the countryside, selling soda, cigarettes, Pho, and Pringles. Yes, Pringles are surprisingly popular in the small neighborhood markets.

It is easy to resist buying food items from the markets because you know there is no chance that it is going to make it through customs at the next stop. So we look, we smell, we marvel at the variety. One Australian dude we overheard as we wandered through the food market yesterday pretty much summed it up: “F#ck I wish I could cook!”

Here are some photos that illustrate our trips through the market places of Saigon, the Mekong Delta, and now Hoi An.