The Market at Đồng Văn

Market hall in Dong Van. The old market hall was the centre of activity for the Đồng Văn market when these photographs were taken. The market is now across the town on a purpose built site Karst above the town. The karst at the centre of Đồng Văn town; behind the trees lies the old market Đồng Văn is the district and town at the apex of Vietnam - China lies on three sides. The next pages will be about the area and its people, starting with the market. Dong Van Town. The town of Đồng Văn from the road to Hà Giang the Provincial capital. The karst, centre left, lies at the town centre Lane and Karsts. Within a few feet of the Đồng Văn market are limestone karsts, the small space between is occupied by vegetable plots Market hall and road quiet. Shops by the market street. Two of the local shops which line the market street cater for more complex needs The market vendors and shops trade beside each other and, as in every town throughout the world, there is a tension between shopkeepers who must pay regular taxes, and market traders who proverbially avoid them. Markets lie at the heart of Vietnamese life. They range from huge covered buildings like the Đồng Xuân Market in central Hà Nội, to a handful of local people sitting on the ground at a crossroads. But every community aspires to a market that provides some protection from the sun and rain. Rooftops of houses by the market. The pantile roofing, of the older houses and the market hall, is found throughout much of northern Vietnam and adds an aesthetic quality lost in the asbestos seen in some shop roofs as in those above right Butchers scales and street vendors. Vendors spread their goods on the ground along the sides of the road and around the square by the market hall, and arrange awnings to keep off the worst of the weather Man contemplating goods. Although probably not local himself, a customer's jacket and scarf show his preference for local taste, see the women below Inside cafe by the market. A cafe by the market road is typical of its genre in Vietnam: Breeze block walls, a display cabinet of canned drinks, plastic furnishings and decorations, and always free tobacco, free tea, and a quiet welcome Selling cupboards. Cupboard love or at least desire. Women negotiate for an item of furniture, still wrapped up against the chill of the morning although the day will be hot Butchers stall and woman. A woman going to market with hair to her waist - girls are often seen with it to their knees Butcher with green sleves and his meat. This butcher's beret is one of very few reminders left by the French occupation Meat in all its forms dominates Vietnamese cooking, despite the (admittedly now rather distant) Buddhist heritage. Butcher giving change to customer. Tripe and other offal form a staple part of the diet throughout Vietnam Butcher and his meat and woman with basket. Here two ubiquitous items: the back pannier and the green weighing scales Inside the market hall. Inside the hall when the market is over Shoe seller. Shoe sales Men, woman and boy. The hall provides a sheltered cooking space. Around it the stalls
are protected by awnings
Larger markets like this one in Đồng Văn are held at intervals, maybe on a Sunday or on the new moon, and provide an opportunity not just for exchange of goods, but also for social dalliance, everyone is seen, and wants to be seen, in a good light and their best clothes. Places to eat are central to any market. Stalls provide a variety of foods and somewhere to sit with friends or conduct business. The other main feature of markets is the drinking - but more on that next week. For younger people there is commonly the entertainment of a pool table - often in unlikely contexts. Noodle sales. A large pot on the fire at the left of the picture provides the stock for the noodles being sold Inside a covered part of the market. People sit and chat in the shelter of the main hall with a pool table at the far end Pool in the market hall. A strange framework for the game of pool: motorbikes and hanging meat The next page continues with the Đồng Văn market showing something of the trading that goes on. Two women with their produce.
Saturday 1st October 2016 Murphy on duty

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