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.

Life’s little moments.

The thousands of moments that make up our life. Each moment an opportunity for growth, impact, change, and a new perspective.

Moments that pass by before our eyes.
Moments that we wish we could freeze.
Moments that we feel alive.
The moments you wish you could relive.

You know what I’m talking about. The moments.

Each one new. For us to turn the day around. Make someone smile. Each moment an opportunity whether missed or taken.

The moments that make up our life. Things happen so fast the older I get & I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. In fact, it feels as if it will only go faster. The days become a blur that I often forget about these single moments. The hundreds and thousands of tiny moments that make our day. our week. our year.

The moments of accomplishment after a long hike. The sight of Tom’s flourishing 15th floor balcony garden. The moment when you take a bite into a juicy summer watermelon. The moments in between classes that my students come visit me at my desk during their free time. Those early morning moments with Tom during our bike commute to work. The moment when I’m running and the sight of an ever growing field of wildflowers stops me in my tracks. The moment Tom grabs my hand while we are walking along the ocean front. The moment a photo pops up on my phone of my sisters and Lucas. Camping, blue skies, my morning view, seeing a dear friend’s newborn baby boy dressed in the most dapper of outfits. My husband’s delicious brunch. Starting a hike in the fog and climbing above the clouds. Tuning into a church service from St. Andrew church back in Wisconsin. Taking off your shoes and crashing into the hammock after a long day of trekking. These are my moments…

What are yours?

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