In the morning we left the misty SaPa and headed to Coc Ly for the weekly market held by the Flower Hmong and Black Dao people. The tribes come here to sell, buy, and socialize. The market wasn’t huge, but offered everything a Hmong or Dao might want: from meat and vegetables to cooked food, from handmade local garb to a whole array of cheap Chinese clothes and wares.
The most impressive part of the market was the water buffalo auction. The animals were stationed on the mountain slope looking very picturesque in their dark coats which set them off handsomely against the background of a red mountain.
Flower Hmong women were dressed to the nines, their fashion sense commendable. They were well put together in their pleated colorful skirts, elaborate tops, fancy leggings, and brightly colored kerchiefs. Here too, Hmong women were following us around, completely disregarding our vehement refusals to buy their merchandise. They wore Sandy down though, and she bought a bag from them before leaving the market.
The market was exotic and colorful, but Myanmar’s market spoiled it for me. The market on lake Inle was the best third world market I have ever seen. I think that was a fourth world market, really…
From the market, we went to a village populated by the very industrious Tay people. We went by cart driven by water buffalo, the Vietnamese answer to the Central Park horse-drawn carriages (and smelled just as bad). The village’s location could not be more picturesque- a valley flanked by magnificent mountains. Primitive as the village was, it had an artist somewhere in its midst who laid out a lotus pond and decorated the building used as a homestay with wood branches doubling as natural sculptures. The whole area is nature unspoiled, and the humans coexist with it peacefully, blending in. The rice fields, although created by people, fit perfectly in, and look naturally decorative, while the houses are so simple that they actually blend in with the rest of the landscape.