Leaving Sapa

25 10 2009

24th October 2009

We are told Sapa Market is not as colourful as a couple of the nearby village markets but is is certainly interesting. Red MongNearly all the market sellers are from various local Hmong and …..tribes. The various ethnic groups distinguish themselves from one another by their different clothes. Basically all wear a deep indigo blue or black skirt and tunic for the women and trousers and jacket for the men, with varying richly coloured embroidered trims.Market

On our first day in Sapa we found out that the indigo blue is made from the leaves of a local plant. (It looks very like a weed with dark blue/purple berries that we often see in the gardens of Tassie.) Maree made the mistake of showing too much interest and was invited to rub the ordinary looking green leaves into a pulp in her hands by adding a bit of water. When she expressed doubt at what she was being told to do, Su our guide assured her it was all right and that the dye would only stain if it went through the full process which takes months to complete. So Maree kept rubbing until she had a good green pulp going in her hands by then her scepticism kicked in and she insisted on washing it off to the protests of Su who wanted her to “leave it longer!” As we walked on at first it seemed fine but then the faint green stain began to turn blue, much to the amused giggles of the Hmong girls. “It will wash off tonight,” they insisted as it turned to dark blue and around her fingernails to near black.  Try not to smurk as Maree is less than impressed as now, two days on her nails still have a distinctly ‘blue’ tinge to them.

Market2But back to the market! The stalls were mostly under makeshift shelters arranged around the ‘town square’ – not unlike Salamanca really – but many of them carry pretty much identical stock: Jewellery, leather work, embroidered clothes, trinket boxes, embroidered bags, carvings etc.

Overlooking the square and dominating the town centre is the Catholic Church. Although protestant Christianity is discouraged, Catholicism is permitted by Vietnamese authorities and practitioners avoid the persecution that Protestants experience. But if one can believe the English writing on the church notice board it sounds like there may be some positive Christian gospel witness in the local community. Certainly there is a bare Christian cross over the building dominating the centre of town and not too many adornments inside that would detract from the good news depicted in the bright and colourful stained glass windows.

Today as we wandered about the town sometimes the wafting tendrils of mist and cloud reduced visibility to something less than a hundred metres and at other times it was as if an invisible hand would draw back the veil and momentarily reveal glimpses of mountains and valleys.Sapa

Its now Sunday and we have arrived Back in Hanoi tired but without drama. We found an international Christian church service and are now packing to leave for Luang Prabang in Laos so we may will not be on line again for a day or so.




One response

25 10 2009
Basil & Rosemary

The “Roger on the bike” photo made a good slide for service ppt this morning! No photo of the blue hands?

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