The long night along the railways in northern Vietnam has gone very well, the comfortable cabin and pleasant conversations with our new Polish friends have relaxed to the point of having slept the whole time.
Lao Cai, arrival at the station
Once at this small station, we realized how touristic is this destination: just got off the train we were continuously bothered by people who wanted us to take a taxi or minibus to Sapa, an hour’s drive from here. Large groups of tourists driven on command by tour guides. All caged. Fortunately we had found a local guide, the gorgeous Zi, which together with the driver and the cousin, Thao, took us up to Can Cau Market, less known and truest of the famous Bac Ha. But we had to drve four hours more.
Can Cau market and the buffalo sale
Arriving in this market, we were the only tourists, and this immediately made me happy. As always happens to me, in these chaotic places full of photo opportunities, I took first a little ‘time to acclimate and to understand its dynamics. This allows me to take pictures with much more tranquility and quality. In the past, i start shooting right away, taken by the excitement and euphoria, but then I made disasters.
Every new place has to be breathed in and savored before taking the first pictures
In addition to classic products, from fruit to meat or fish, clothes, shoes and accessories, the most beautiful and most exciting part, photographically speaking, was definitely the buy and sale of buffalos. The view from the top was fantastic: the valley was full of these mammals and men, creating an almost surreal landscape.
In addition to the buffalo, then they were sellers of dogs, pigs, chickens, goats and scenes that had appeared before my eyes were beautiful, so real and so strange.
Night at Zizi homestay in the village of Hau Thau
With the eyes and camera full of unforgettable images, we put back on the road to reach the house (called homestay) of the family with whom we will sleep in the small village of Hau Thau. In between, a stop for a local lunch and a ride to the small but staggering Sapa market. Disconcerting because, for the first time in my life, I have seen on a counter, the dog meat and a dog’s cut head.
Obviously, I respect all cultures and obviously I will not post any pictures of it. Bad scene for us europeans.
Arrived by Zizi, they accommodated in a very basic and humid room. In the afternoon we had a taste of the surrounding countryside and villages. Mountains covered by rice fields, children everywhere, beauty at every turn. Already I could not wait to begin the long trek of tomorrow.
Later on, we had a nice dinner with the family and other guests, all travelers, who for two weeks, some for months. It is impressive to see how many more people decide to drop everything off, to begin to tr the world.
About my photography
Well, that is, the Can Cau market experience will always remain among my favorites. I love the markets, and this is, for sure, one of the most beautiful and spectacular I’ve ever seen. Even here, I have used most of the time, the Summicron 28mm f2, magnificent when it comes to capturing street scenes.
For the first time, however, I held onto the Voigtlander Skopar 21mm f4, from the moment I wanted to capture the valley full of buffalo and people. This lens is really high quality, and I enjoyed using it in the market where they sold animals, to capture the whole atmosphere of the place.
Details with 90mm Elmarit
At one point, trying to change the style of the pictures, I decided to put up the Elmarit 90mm to try to describe the place even through the details. The hands of the elderly ladies, the decorations of the Hmong clothes, feet and special shoes, hands through the baskets of vegetables or while they exchange the money. I must say, it was a great idea.
when you have no more inspiration, the best thing to do is to change the focal length and see the world with a new vision.
- From Lao Cai to Sapa, if you have not arranged a pickup, don’t surrend to the drivers in the station. Look for a lot cheaper and peaceful Local Bus, yellow and red colors. It only costs 28.000VND!
- Sapa is pretty ugly, I do not recommend taking an accommodation there. Go to the villages around, you will enjoy a very different atmosphere and landscape.
- Homestay Near Sapa, Hau Thau. Just search on google “Zizi Mekhoo homestay”, it’s two different ho,estays actually and they are both excellent, Mekhoo is a little bit cleaner and cozy tha Zi Zi and her house is just below it.
The day in pictures (iphone 6s)