A good night for the roses

TN News

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Vietnam isn’t known for its flower markets, but maybe it should be.

Early each morning, the streets around Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake are the site of small, slow  flower parades. Vendors circle the lake on bicycles full of roses, lotuses, daisies and many other flowers.

They leave behind their buds’ sweet scent mixing with the crisp morning air. Their peddling is the only sound breaking the quiet of dawn.

Most of the flowers come from the Quang Ba Flower Market, a nighttime affair that begins before midnight and ends after the sun rises.

We visited around 3 a.m., taking Thanh Nien Road north of downtown to Au Co Street in Tay Ho District.

The flower market welcomed us with freshly-bloomed flowers piled high on the ground, on bikes and in vendor’s stalls. The various colors shined under fluorescent lights and the strong aroma of rose, lotus, daisy and orchid all mixed together was nearly intoxicating.

Quang Ba offers flowers from all over the globe: seasonal flowers from Tu Liem District on the outskirts of Hanoi, flowers from the Central Highlands and also imported flowers from Thailand and Europe.

Many of the vendors handling flowers, trimming leaves and cutting stems were husband and wife teams from Tu Liem and other districts outside central Hanoi.

“My workday starts at 3 or 4 p.m. when we cut flowers from our fields and prepare for a trip to the night market. We leave for the market at 1a.m.,” said Nguyen Thi Luong, a 40-year-old woman from Tu Liem who has been selling her homegrown roses and daisies at Quang Ba for 10 years. “The work on the flower field can be hard and it depends a lot on the weather. But the flower business is more profitable than growing rice.”

Le Thu, a 50-year-old woman from Bac Ninh Province, said she had been selling flowers from her bike for 15 years, all the while renting a small flat in Hanoi with seven other flower sellers. “It is hard, but it means everything. I’ve saved enough for my son to study at Hanoi Medical University.”

After strolling the market and talking with sellers for a few hours, the light of the sunrise began to touch upon the rich hues of the buds and blossoms.

Many small flower vendors from the city arrived on bicycles to pick up their daily inventory bound for downtown and Hoan Kiem Lake.

We left the market knowing we would come back soon in hopes of seeing the market glow during the Tet holiday season, when row upon row of peach flowers, bonsai, and cherry blooms will fill Quang Ba.

Reported by Tina Pham

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