March 17, 2016

The Beautiful Markets of Southeast Asia

Words : Jodi Regan
Photos : Zach Davis

Entering a market in SoutheastAsia bombards the senses, and where one market begins and another ends can be a mystery. I, of course, found this out at 4am in Ho Chi Minh City, when a taxi was waiting to take us to the airport and I was in charge of running to the ATM to grab funds. I swerved in between stalls for a good fifteen minutes before I realized this was not the market adjacent to our hostel. I had found another almost identical market (to my untrained, foreign eyes) a few streets over.

I think if you catalogued all of our hours in Southeast Asia, our time spent in markets would easily make up at least 30% of it. In Ho Chi Minh City, what looked like empty alleyways held barbershops, hole in the wall restaurants, and vendors selling fruit. One vendor was sell frogs that were still jumping, despite being in a be-headed state–freshly butchered meat at its finest, not to mention a variety of spices in bulk.

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We took the chance to try out the Macro Lens by Moment, which acts like a telescope. Imagine a piece of fruit is like a new planet. The Macro Lens let us discover all the nooks and crannies of its surface, a surprising new landscape. It made us explorers.

Stalls ran into one another with vendors overlapping, bartering against one another as young men and women searched for the best deal among countless options for dried fish, bok choy, or lychee. Half of the time, we found ourselves overwhelmed by all of the colors, sounds, and smells… and ended up seeing the dragon fruit we had just bought for much cheaper at a stall not 50 feet away.

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Whether you’re a tourist in Hanoi or in New York, the unfamiliarity puts you at a distinct disadvantage. However, it also means there’s a pride in being a local, a sense of belonging you cannot buy or fake, a pride earned solely through experience.

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