We had been in Vietnam for a week and had travelled up the coast from Ho Chi Minh City to the ancient city of Hoi An and starting to get acclimatized to the hot humid weather and the industriousness of the people. The sights, sounds and tastes however, were still cause for great excitement – a state my senses would remain in for the entirety of our stay in this amazing country.
Hoi An has one of the biggest fish and fresh produce markets and we had decided to seize the early morning hours to hunt for some some out-of-the-ordinary photo opportunities.
Super eager, we left the hotel at 5am and stepped into darkness. On our way to the market, we came across these very devoted residents pursuing their active lifestyle under the street lights.
We had seen this before on our first couple of mornings in Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho: the Vietnamese are very active people. They don’t only rise early for leisure, work starts early too.
By 5am most residents were already out and about, everybody busy with something. The fish market was no exception:
Hot and very humid (25 degrees Celsius and 84% humidity) and already at 5:15am I felt overdressed in my T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. To cap it all, the sticky air was filled with the smell of seafood when we arrived at the market.
As we navigated the busy walkways, everything I laid my eyes on was foreign and tempting to photograph.
Most people were friendly, some shy but in general, we felt welcome and nobody minded our cameras.
Unable to talk to anyone as most locals don’t speak English, meant were getting a lot of practice in communicating using our hands. Quite honestly, it added to our adventure and the journey of discovering a foreign world.
Baskets and baskets full of known and unknown seafood could be seen all around. Interesting, but equally unnerving as I had no clue about this variety of sea creatures.
It was fascinating to see the enourmous amount of produce for sale. Although I initially thought that Hoi An was a relatively small town, I was surprised to see the extent of this market and the number of tradespeople who appeared here, every morning, to sell their goods. I guess it goes to show that even a small town in Asia is home to a lot of people.
The country’s delicious food is world renowned. During our stay in Hoi An we learned that it is THE food hub of Vietnam. Tourism is very well developed in this town and has given rise to a large number of excellent restaurants, food tours and cooking classes. The Vietnamese believe in buying all ingredients fresh on the day and they sure have a huge variety on their doorstep.
Our discoveries didn’t end with the variety of seafood and produce for sale. Vendors hunched over in a squatting position for hours on end selling their goods spread out over the walkways and makeshift stalls and even more fascinating, the way all the goods were being transported:
Living in Africa, I thought I was accustomed to seeing people ingeniously transporting stockpiles of goods on small vehicles, yet witnessing the Vietnamese way was even more interesting:
People didn’t even need to go to these lengths to catch my eye. Just seeing them ride their bicycles was enough reason to get me excited.
Not everyone seemed lucky enough to have their own mode of transport. On our way back to our hotel, I spotted an old lady stepping off the ferry, I assumed to do her grocery shopping at the market and something she had probably been doing for a very, very long time.
As she walked into the distance I wondered what delicious meal she would prepare for her family that day…