While I never consider eating some of the food items I’ve seen during my international travels, I still love exploring local food markets. And I'm always amazed at the variety of foods offered for sale.
As I wandered around the riverside central market in Hoi An, Vietnam, I wasn't disappointed with the variety of items on display. There were several types of fresh seafood, spices, live and prepared poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooking utensils that I didn’t recognize. Jade and marble trinkets, clothing, shoes, and local art were also on display.
After wandering through the aisles for a few minutes, I became more intrigued with the ladies who sat on low stools, upturned plastic buckets, rickety plastic chairs and, sometime, just squatted or sat right on the ground. Some were busy deboning fish, plucking freshly killed chickens or ducks, stirring a steaming pot of soup, or eating from a bowl of noodles while other just sat smoking a cigarette and chatted with their neighbor.
As I passed each one, I smiled and continued walking. As I went further into the market, I sensed that they continued to watch me. I supposed that even though they were used to and looked forward to tourists walking through the market, they probably didn't often see African American female tourists.
After a while, I found the ladies of the Hoi An central market to be more interesting than the foodstuff and other items they were selling. So I started pointing to my camera to mime taking their photograph. A few of them shied away from the camera so I kept walking. I bypassed a handful of others who asked for money in exchange for the picture. However, the majority of them looked directly into the camera and a few struck their best posed.
After taking the picture with my digital camera, I showed each lady how they looked in the picture. Every one of them smiled and several of them beckoned to their neighbor from a nearby stall to come over to see their picture.
My experience at the market was most enjoyable. And I'd like to think most of the ladies welcomed the attention. Here are some of the Ladies of the Hoi An Central Market.
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