Many weekend guests to Sapa choose to go to Bac Ha market, which is well accessible on an organised day journey from Sapa. However if you wish to keep away from the tourist hordes, Muong Hom market is a extra fascinating possibility… if you may get there.
Our journey began at 07:00 from Sapa city. It was chilly and foggy as we donned helmets and crawled onto the again of motorbikes together with our information, Ta May. Regardless of the fog, the primary a part of the journey was pleasant, in a “we’re on an journey” sort of method; views have been restricted, however often a powerful panorama broke via.
Sitting on the again of the bike, I began to write down this put up in my head: “The highway was slim however paved and we handed hardly any four-wheel autos, so regardless of the occasional steep drop to our proper and tough patch of highway, we had no issues in regards to the security of the journey…” Then all of it modified.
All of a sudden the highway, nonetheless on a hill, turned to mud as we entered a development zone. Honda Waves weren't made for driving up muddy hills. After the second rear wheel slide I jumped off and walked via the worst of it earlier than re-joining my group additional on. From there till the market, mercifully just a few extra kilometres, the highway was barely much less treacherous however nonetheless, there was an fringe of worry. We handed a couple of buses, unable to maneuver till the mud dried out a bit — in December in Sapa I wasn’t holding out a lot hope that the passengers would get residence for dinner.
By the point we arrived on the market, at round 09:00, it was heaving with prospects. Most distributors and prospects journey from Muong Hom or close by villages and are from 4 ethnic teams, the Red Dao and White H’mong being probably the most noticeable. After the crowds, the following factor that struck me was the fantastic array of colors, from the ladies’s clothes to the fabric, rugs and different objects being bought. Photograph alternatives are all over the place.
Not like Bac Ha market, Muong Hom shouldn't be a livestock market, though there are some livestock gross sales early within the morning. Most stalls promote textiles — clothes, fabric, ribbons, bedding — however and foodstuff, notably dried items, are additionally accessible.
The market additionally has a full of life meals part. Our tour Sapa organisers had packed us sandwiches within the expectation that we wouldn’t need to eat on the market stalls, and whereas I’m typically not too fussy about the place or what I eat, and have a powerful abdomen, on this occasion I used to be fairly completely satisfied to have the stuffed baguette in my backpack as we have been 50 kilometres from an honest rest room. I did, nonetheless, attempt a few of the bread that our tour information bought, fabricated from fermented one thing or different… It had extra of a bread consistency and tasted vaguely of alcohol, though we have been reassured that it didn’t comprise any.
We have been the one vacationers on the market, and though we stood out — not only for our faces and peak however the brightly colored raincoats we have been all sporting — we didn’t really feel in any respect like vacationer points of interest, as is the case in some much less touristed areas, nor did we really feel unwelcome or get overcharged for the small objects we purchased. We have been accepted and pushed and shoved together with the remainder of the crowds.
We solely spent an hour or so on the market because it’s not notably giant, however then wandered across the village and by the river earlier than commencing the journey residence. Fortuitously, driving downhill via mud isn’t fairly as treacherous as driving up, however quite a few hair-raising moments nonetheless ensued and the rain didn’t assist. Nonetheless, we made it again to Sapa moist, however in a single piece, with a fantastic reminiscence to remove.
We wouldn’t recomment travelling right here after or throughout rain and ideally depart a visit till the highway is accomplished — each time that could be. In case you are determined to go, prepare a 4WD car and depart Sapa early. I’d suggest in opposition to going by motorcycle in the mean time and even when the climate’s higher it ought to solely be tried by skilled drivers.