Let’s shop!

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This morning we hit the famous Saigon market, which is a large indoor/outdoor bazaar-style marketplace. It has just about everything you might want under one roof: clothes, shoes, housewares, luggage, hair accessories, fresh food, flowers and plants … the list goes on and on. And of course, haggling is a must.

We had a blast!

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This is the main axis corridor that runs the length of the market. Cross-secting this corridor perpendicular are tiny aisles (and I mean UBER-TINY) that run the width of the building creating a compact grid of vendors that are grouped by category. For example, all the shoe people are together, all the luggage are together, etc.

First up: the shoes. My friend Leah was in heaven.

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While I’m quite the shoe-ho myself, it was pretty easy for me to resist. Yay, me!

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But then we hit the housewares section and I got a load of all the cute dishes, chopsticks, serving bowls and tea sets. I could feel my hands start to quiver. My resolve was about to be seriously tested.

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Oh my. I just knew a few of these wanted to come home with me.

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Thankfully, we moved on to the candy and food aisles, which were amazing.

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I never knew there were so many varieties of dried shrimp. Each of those buckets is a different variety. And just below are dried whole fish.

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Coffee and tea.

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Candy. By the way, all the dried fruit is sold in the candy section. Dried kiwis, raisins, plums, apples … the exotics included jack fruit, lychee, samboche … it was endless and oh so tempting!

Hell, all the fresh fruit available was equally incredible. The big difference here is that these fruits and veggies are harvested at their peak and have an incredibly concentrated flavor. In the food vendor area there are little booths that serve nothing but fresh juices and purees. I broke down and had a samboche smoothie—eye-rolling delicious.

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Lychee.

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Chom chom. Yum-eee.

I spent the most amount of time wandering the butchery and fresh seafood aisles. I was fascinated at all that was available. Every aspect of an animal is sold and used. There is no such thing as waste here; they use it all.

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Yes, those are pigs feet.

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Offals anyone? Yup, those are intestines … and right behind is a platter with hearts and livers. Right next to that one is a big platter full of brains.

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Yup. They’re alive.

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Ah. Here we’ve hit the crabs, crawdads, clams and shrimp aisle. Woo … fascinating. I wanted to know more about what each one of them were and better yet, how to cook them. I adore seafood.

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If this picture could move you’d see little snapping crab claws coming at you. It was a wonder they all stayed lined up like that versus crawling out of formation. Funny.

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This place really had just about anything you could imagine. There were even little stands where women were carving up food decorations and garnishments.

The energy in this market was palpable and it made the experience of shopping fun. But not because of the acquisition for material’s sake but because of the interaction with the merchants who, for the most part, are experts on their goods. So not only do you get to buy something, but you also get to commune, laugh, engage and learn a little something along the way.

This is shopping the way it’s supposed to be.

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