Having woken up before sunrise to make the drive to the Bac Ha market, I stumbled out of the van in a daze. As soon as I set foot on the ground, however, the sights and sounds of the market snapped me out of my haze.
The Bac Ha market near Sapa, Vietnam, close to the Chinese border, draws locals from all over the region. Though the wares on sale - everything from produce to clothing to steaming bowls of noodle soup - are impressive, the real draw for travelers is the opportunity to interact with the local minority ethnic groups, including the Black Hmong.
The Black Hmong dress in incredibly colorful traditional clothing that they wear in layers upon layers. From their headscarves to their shoes, the vibrancy of their clothing adds to the chaos and cacophony of the Sunday market.
In every direction, there's something fascinating to look at, taste, smell, touch or listen to. A trip to the market is a rare opportunity to interact with the ethnic minorities of northern Vietnam, and it's well worth the pre-dawn wake up call.