Wow. When Hanoi holds a flea market, Hanoi holds a flea market….but first you gotta get there…. I found out about it on Hanoi Grapevine – a website I’d signed onto to keep up with current art events and such. So I caught a taxi just outside my place and showed the driver the address, which I’d written down. It took forever to get there. I got the foreigner’s tour of Hanoi which made the fare go up and up. I was pretty irritated about it, but really didn’t have much in the way of an option – I don’t know my way around here yet. I just know that I’ve got from my District to Tay Ho District a heck of a lot faster before. So anyway, I finally get to the road that leads to the flea market. First, I encounter a total traffic mess. I mean, even worse than usual. There’s this big truck trying to turn the corner out of the flea market road. He’s knocking over parked motor bikes and getting irate, everyone’s beeping their horns (like that’s going to help?) and I’m thinking I’ll just stand back and wait for this mess to clear up…… So, when it finally looks like I have an opening to get past this continuing mess, I take it and start walking down the road….which is a muddy, mucky mess from last night’s rain (which was great!).
Now, if you’re looking for a die-hard lover of flea markets, thrift stores, car boot sales, charity shops, parking lot sales, yard and garage sales, I’m your girl! It would have taken a whole lot more than that muddy road to keep me away from the market – especially after that long cab ride. I was amongst a throng of people heading down the road. It was funny – here are all these people trying to keep from stepping in the mud so they’re walking very slowly along a few wooden planks and I’m thinking, “This looks like a long road – there’s no way I’m going to take an hour and a half to get out there by walking that slowly” and I just start tramping through the mud. I mean, forget it! Everyone’s feet were getting muddy anyway. And besides, that’s why God made soap and showers, right?!
A half hour later I finally made it to the football field whereon abode the flea market. I figured it would be a muddy mess, too, but it had fake grass! Here are some pics:
There was just a sprinkling of rain going on. It felt nice.
There was a book stall, but the books were too expensive, surprisingly. I’ve seen them cheaper in a regular bookstore in Hanoi.
I found some clothes. Pretty good prices!
Had a samosa at the food area. Kinda cool eating Indian food in Vietnam!
I had a really fun time at the flea market. But it was time to go home. So, of course, I tromped my way back through the mud. I overheard someone laughing and saying, “American”. I smiled back at them as if to say, “Yep, we’re crazy, all right!” Once I’d reached the main road, I started walking in the direction I’d come from in the cab. I enjoy walking so I figured I’d walk part of the way to save a little on the cab ride home. After about fifteen minutes, I heard someone behind me say, “Xé òm?” I turned around and there was this Vietnamese man on a motorbike asking if I wanted a ride home. Xé òms are everywhere around here (Xé òm translates more or less to “Motorbike hug”). Basically, you jump on the back of the motorbike of a complete and total stranger and hold on…..which I did (don’t worry kids – he gave me a helmet to wear. Besides, you know motorcycles and I go waaaay back!). I showed him my address which I’ve also got written down and he said ‘okay’ sorta hesitantly. He didn’t seem sure where it was and he wasn’t sure, so he stopped and asked another xé òm and he told my guy how to get there. So off we went. I gotta tell ya – I had a blast! I love, love, love being on the back of a motorcycle! He was a good driver. He still got a little lost….just didn’t know that part of town, I guess. But he asked people along the way while we were going down the road, “Phuong Mai? Phuong Mai?” and he got me to my street. It cost less than half what the cab ride cost. And here he is: