Coc Ly market to visit in Bac Ha
- on Mar 14, 2020       By: BN
The Coc Ly market is located on the edge of the Chay river, in the Bac Ha district, North of the old Tonkin and, although it is not the most important, it is certainly one of the most beautiful.
Every Tuesday and in the early morning, groups of various ethnic minorities, in particular, the Hmong and their traditional costume with their bright colours, arrive on horseback, on foot or more and more frequently on a motorcycle, sometimes after a journey of ten kilometres on small paths.
The Hmong and their traditional costume
They bring their products cultivated or prepared in the mountain villages: corn, cassava, tea, fruit and without forgetting the jerry cans of rice alcohol of local manufacture and are the subject of noisy requests from the sellers... Here we taste without moderation and sometimes the return to the village is a bit hesitant and problematic, very often under the attentive and patient eye of the wife that is clearly accustomed!
Men with locally made rice alcohol jerry cans
As an important place of meeting and exchange, the market is divided into several areas for fruits, vegetables, pets with black pigs and chickens, clothes and accessories for traditional dress, tools for agricultural work with ploughs, knives, etc. But also lots of glyphosate and other phytosanitary treatment products...
Buffalo trading area
Along the market, always noisy and lively, there is always some astonishment and surprise to see a canvas bag waving... It is a pig who is helplessly assisting in the bargaining and then in its sale... He will continue his life in another village!
It was here, arriving from Lao Cai on a warm and bright spring morning, that I discovered the "thang co", made from horse offal... Beside the Pho, it remains the essential dish served in the small restaurants of the market where you can sit down in contact with the locals surprised and amused by their coming… They will leave after a few purchases, maybe a pig on a leash, under the arm or well wrapped and tied up on the bike!
A corner of Coc Ly market
Not far from there, after a short trip by bus or canoe on the river, it is then time and possible to find a welcoming homestay to spend the night in a village, near the rice fields which mark the life of the ethnic groups of the region. That evening, the meal was grilled pig, vegetables and fruits from the garden!
Fieldwork near Coc Ly, Bac Ha
Text and photo: Marcel Labretelle