Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 17 -- I found Lung Tien, where Hop Tien is, on a tourist map! "I'd like to go there", but, again, I was told, as a foreigner, for my own safety because of the sensitivity of the village being so close to China border, it would take a few days for the local authority to organize someone to escort me. I decided to leave as soon as I could find someone who could drive me 2 days back to Hanoi, and I started to ask around.

Philip advised to wait around. Something may come up, he said, and at least to enjoy the beauty of this area.

So, being a dutiful wife, I did just that!  

The motorbike ride with Tuan back to the Loving Market turned out to be a profitable one. On the way there, we saw more of the tribal people's daily life. The most amazing thing is to see people, even little children, have no fear of falling off the mountain cliffs. It seemed everyone enjoyed sitting, standing, sleeping, playing right on the edge of the mountains.

The market was in full swing when we arrived. Unlike the night before which had many Kinh (Vietnamese) people, this morning there were mostly Hmong, Nung, Giay, and other tribal minorities. Dressed in beautiful traditional constumes, people thoroughly enjoyed the market. Laughter rang out everywhere. People walked arm-in-arm, eating, checking out vendors' stalls of clothes, jewelry and foods, children playing, chit chatting in all different languages.... The market was very crowded, but not hustle bustle. I am totally inspired by the clothes, the colors and their unhurried ways.


After several hours, around 1pm, we followed the throng of people returning to their homes. On the back of Tuan's motorbike, I could see the winding paths around the mountains farther and farther in front of me spotted with colorful scarves and clothing. Most everyone carried something from the market, unhurried. 

Along the way, there were groups of people and children sitting on the edge of the mountain to take 
a break, and quietly gazing into the mountain range in the distance. Again, I am humbled by their ability not to rush about, and without effort, live their life so regal and with dignity.

By Goc Ba Cay Thi, Three Thi Trees' corner, a drunk husband sprawled on the grass while his beautiful young wife waited patiently, seemingly enjoying the breathtaking view. Later on, I was told the drunkenness during market days, or special festivals, like this Loving Market, was no big deal. The wives took pride that their husband had many friends who invited their husband to drink with them. 

As the rain-carrying clouds were rolling in, the sights of women, girls and boys carrying great bundles of vegetation against the background of the magnificent mountains made me realize the incredible tenacity of the tribal people here. No wonder they were recognized by all of Vietnam for their courage to withstand the invasion of China not long ago. The women, even with great bundles on their back, can reach the same destination faster than cars and motorbikes by using the steep and narrow paths straight up and down the mountains.

Later, after a nap at the hotel in Meo Vac, I was invited to have dinner with the PLAN staff. When I got there, Mr. Thang, the Meo Vac PLAN's much loved leader, told me he just got a call from a province official leader about a project that involved some development of the handicraft industry to improve the economy of several villages, and would I care to come to the meeting.... Remembering Philip had told me to wait around and that something might come up, I said yes!

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