By Mina Nguyen, ESL 3 

When I travel to my homeland, Viet Nam, one of my favorite things to do is to walk to an open market. I am always interested about country life and especially about countryside markets. There was a small open market in a village near Hue city in the middle of Viet Nam, where people brought whatever they planted or raised to sell.

On an early summer morning day, I visited the small country market. It was dark and cold when I walked to it nearby my motel. The road was narrow and a little wet, and it was alongside a beautiful river. I was walking slowly while enjoying the fresh air. The air of the countryside was filled with the smell of mud, plants, and animals. I was passing some houses with people who were still sleeping. I couldn’t see the market clearly, but I heard people who were chatting nearby. When I went closer, I saw some lights of oil lamps, which people often used in the country. This market had been there a long time, and nobody knew when it was established.

There were some groups of people who were preparing things to sell. On the right side, there was the river, where people transferred merchandise such as vegetables, animals, and rice from their boat to sell. There were some men who were quickly moving things from the boat to the ground while they were chatting and laughing with each other. Some people were hugging themselves in the corner and tried to sleep a little bit while they were waiting for the new day to come.

I lingered till sunrise; it was a beautiful and peaceful morning with clear skies and warm air. At that time, the market started to get crowded when I stood in the center of this small market. I could feel everything about the life, air, people, and even the poor of the countryside. Some people were looking at me and whispering to each other, for they knew that I wasn’t a local person. A man rode a bicycle abruptly past me, so it made the mud splash on my shoes.

There was an old, skinny grandma who used her wrinkled hands to slowly put a few bunches of vegetables, which she planted on her farm such as green onions, cabbages, and potato leaves, on the big tray. Close by, there were a mother and a small boy who were selling two chickens with some baby chicks. The boy kept moving around while his mom tried to sell a chicken to a customer. Next to them was a woman who wore a big hat, and she was carrying a baby on her hip with one hand. Using her other hand, she pointed to the duck. She was bargaining with the lady who was selling the duck to her. The bargain was long and wasn’t successful, for
I saw the woman leave without buying the duck. I heard a loud voice of a young girl about twelve or thirteen years old on the far end who was inviting people to buy small bundles of jasmine, which she made by herself. I bought two from her, and it cost me forty cents. Near the river bank, there was a

small crowd of people surrounding one man, who in front had a small bucket with some catfish and tilapia. Inside another bucket was a handful of small bouncing shrimp, and there were two black and yellow skinned eels on a tray that were coiling together. A dozen frogs were jumping inside a bamboo trap, so it made the trap roll side to side. He told people that he caught them the night before in the rice field. Sitting next to him was his wife, a portly woman with a round face and friendly smile, who was laying a bunch of banana and some sweet potatoes on a banana leaf on the ground. She was telling people who surrounded her husband that her bananas were very fresh and cheap, and invited people to buy her products.

I walked across the market to go back to my motel. I could hear people bargaining for selling and buying, or laughing, chatting, and even fighting. It made a particular sound that you can hear in a market in Viet Nam. Sometimes, people go to a market not to buy or sell anything, but to go there to chat or gossip about their family or about someone. As for me, several times I went to a country market and bought nothing, but sometimes
I bought a lot, yet I didn’t use them all. Furthermore, I bargained with a seller even though I knew it was very cheap and felt like one of them. The morning, which I enjoyed while I walked alongside the river, was so peaceful and pleasant. Someone was hurrying to go to the farm or to go to the rice field. A new day was coming.

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