Market Madness// Can Cau, Northern Vietnam.

Day three of our trek ended here. At the Can Cau market in Northern Vietnam.

I love that each photo truly captures the madness of it. I’ve spent some time just looking at each of these photos because each person in the photo has a different story to tell. Each is doing their own thing at the moment the photo was taken. Water Buffalo being sold, chickens, birds, pigs, dogs. You could find it all at the market here. Many of the villagers walked for kilometers (or miles if you’re from the states) to this market that took place once a week. Today was the big day for them whether buyer or seller this is where it all went down. The freshest of food could be found here as well as spices, household items, jewelry, and clothing. Everything you needed you could find right at this very market. Babies, moms, kids, dads, grandma, and grandpa. Every age on the spectrum was found here and each had a specific role to play at the market. I was mesmerized by the colors and the outfits all together in one place. It had a flow to it and like other places we had visited in Vietnam- you either join the chaos or get out!

We were told if we were lucky we would witness a bull fight between the water buffalo. Well, not long after strolling down to look at animal section at the market– sure enough, we witnessed two bulls going head to head. I was glad to be witnessing from the hill above rather than just beside them below. I wondered why they seemed to be urging the bulls to fight if this animal is the most prized possession these people own. I figured they wouldn’t want their livestock getting injured. I considered asking, but the fight didn’t last long and it appeared both bulls walked away uninjured!

I loved the intricate embroidery on each baby carrier, apron, cloth, blanket, skirt, hat, and other clothing items. The bright colors made it quite easy to see why these native people are called the Flower Hmong tribe. The food was ridiculously delicious. There’s just something about sitting down and taking it all in from a little wooden bench while filling your stomach with this delectable homemade dish in the middle of he mountains in Vietnam. I could have stayed all day and just watched the market madness…

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buffalo belowwww.

buffalo belowwww.

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breakfast.

breakfast.

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bull fight.

bull fight.

mmmmm

snapped from my iphone.

snapped from my iphone.

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The Buffalo Boy.

We woke up to foggy mystical skies. Life starts early in the Hmong villages in the north. It didn’t take us long to realize we were no longer in the “Land Of The Morning Calm.” Life in Vietnam, particularly here in the north, starts early. I’m talking 4am early!

By the time we crept out of bed it was already 7am and the grandmother of the household we were staying at had already been awake for hours. She was this tiny lady who just never stopped moving. It wasn’t long before we set out along our way for day two of our trek. The fog made for this magical walk as we spent the morning walking through it. We weaved in and out of the terraced rice fields and all of a sudden you would hear the faint sound of a cow bell in the distance. It would come closer and closer and as I looked around (even though the sound of the ringing cow bell was quite loud) I still couldn’t see anything yet. Finally, just at about an arms reach, a small boy and his mother came into the clearing. They were guiding their water buffalo back home. Water Buffalo trudging along as they hauled a heavy load of wood from the forest. This wood would later be used in the adobe style indoor oven to fuel the fire for dinner.

It was just about this same time we encountered the only person we had seen for many kilometers. This tiny human left me thinking about him weeks later. He was dressed in a blue coat, blue jeans, and flip flops. He was sitting by a fire that was more smoke than fire. He sat in the grass beside the fire just observing us. He didn’t seem scared, but rather just observing us. Our guide walked over to him as Tom and I followed. The three of us sat there with him. I could feel my heart just being pulled on. Chu-in (our guide) began speaking to him and we learned he was six years old. His job was to lead these massive water buffalo out to the fields to graze and bring them safely back home. Tom worked on making the fire a bit warmer for him. We learned he built the fire himself to keep warm. We emptied our bag of all our food to pass along to him. He was the sweetest little boy. He didn’t have a single toy or book out there with him he just sat there, alone, watching the buffalo.I kept glancing around for an adult and no one was in sight.

Later, his mother came along- I think quite some time had passed since we had arrived- but she was working the fields & came back to check in on him. We chatted with her for awhile. Chu-in speaking Vietnamese to the buffalo boy- the boy translating Vietnamese to the Hmong language back to him mom. I could tell she loved her son. We chatted for a bit more before we departed. Her eating her grasshoppers she had collected and us eating the bread/Vietnamese hot dogs.

I wonder what the future holds for this boy. I know it will probably look a lot different than my future and that’s okay. The buffalo boy changed me. I loved him instantly. He had the sweetest eyes and a very important job looking over the family’s most prized possessions. Sometimes, I don’t think words are necessary to communicate. When you want to show someone love- you don’t always need the words. I don’t necessarily think he was unhappy. It didn’t feel right that I could feel “more fortunate” or that he was “less fortunate.” Traveling does that to you, you know? It shows you that what you’ve known isn’t necessarily always best. It shows you that love is universal. That pain doesn’t have to be felt to be understood. That your way isn’t always the best way. It changes you.

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the buffalo boy.

the buffalo boy.

Our Top 10 Favorite Korean Beaches!

If you know Tom and I…you probably know we absolutely LOVE hiking and we LOVE beaches. I wrote about my love for beaches here and we always try to scope out the best places to set up camp after a long day spent in the mountains. We find ourselves drawn to both mountains and the ocean quite frequently & our time spent in Korea has amplified our love for both. Here’s a complied list of our favorite beaches in Korea SO far.

10. Jangdueng Beach, Yeosu, Jeollanamdo Province. 

This beach is one of our favorites for the main reason that it’s secluded. It’s out in the middle of this teeny TINY Korean village. We love packing food/drinks & camping beneath the trees. To get to this beach you have to go down a large hill and the view from the walk down  is quite stunning. There are quite a few nice beaches in our city of Yeosu, but this one remains quiet and secluded. I also love view of the islands out in the distance from this beach.

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9.Jeongdongjin Beach, Gangnueng, Gangwondo Province.

This one is pretty unique in that the beach holds the world record for ” the closest train station to the sea.” It also has a cruise ship resort high up on the hill that you can see pretty clearly from this beach. Even though we visited it on a dreary day it still makes the list since I know it would be stunning on a sunny day.

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 8.The many beaches of Goheung, Jeollanamdo Province. 

We loved the beaches of Goheung because when we visited they were deserted! I’ve heard in the dog days of summer these places do attract people…but for good reason. Goheung is the next penninsula to the west of us in Yeosu. Tom and I enjoyed exploring this area one very warm winter day in December. Not quite warm enough to swim at 50 degrees, but was fun to explore the area! For sure make a stop at Narodo beach!

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7. Gosapo Beach, Byeonsanbando National Park, Buan, Jeollabukdo Province.

Stunning weather, long white sandy beach, and AMAZING camping made this beach easily place on our list of favorite Korean beaches. The shaded area in the woods made for amazing camping and provided lots of heat from the sun. It’s location was perfect for a long hike the next day in gorgeous Byeonsanbando National Park.

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6. Hwasun Beach, Jeju Island.

What I love most about this beach is the feel of it’s surroundings. We stayed at the cutest hostel on the beach that had such a laid back feel to it. No rush or hustle and bustle. A stop along the biking route brought lots of bikers to this area on Jeju’s southern coast. I love the view of Sangbangsan Mountain in the background.

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5. Gyeongpo Beach, Gangnueng, Gwangwando Province.

This beach is on Korea’s East Coast & was a fun place to relax for a bit. It’s a popular beach so expect LOTS of people. This beach is the longest beach on Korea’s East Coast. We loved the soft white sand and the nice shaded area of pine trees behind it. It’s got a nice location with places to eat and right across from Gyeongpo Lake!

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4. Sangju beach, Namhae, Gyeonsangnamdo Province.

Perfect for swimming and relaxing too the scenic cove earns Namhae a spot on our favorite beach list!180 (2)

3. Sinyang Beach- Jeju island’s east coast (just south of Sunrise Peak!)

Sometimes the best discoveries are hidden treasures. This beach was empty…and we weren’t sure if it was even on the map! Beautiful horses just hangin’ at this beach made it extra picturesque!

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2. Biguemdo Island’s Heart Shaped Beach (Hanuneom Beach), Shinan islands, Jeollanamdo Province.

This island can be reached via Mokpo ferry terminal. A car is most definitely needed as no buses run on this island. A heart shaped island in a beautiful hidden cove. Need I say more?

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Bijindo Island Beach, Gyeonsangnamdo Province.

A real slice of paradise. If I had to choose ONE favorite in the whole of Korea from what we’ve seen. This would be it. Bijindo island can be reached by ferry from the coastal city of Tongyeong. The view from the hike on the island is spectacular. It’s remoteness and it’s beautiful, soft, white sand give it the #1 spot for beautiful beaches to relax on in Korea!

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