Highland bazaar

By Michael Smith, Thanh Nien News

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All roads in Lam Dong Province’s Da Lat lead to the markets which are set in a natural amphitheater in the center of the romantic Highlands town.
Whether you enter from the front which overlooks the lake, by a bridge from Phan Boi Chau Street, or descend into the market via one of the myriad of old cobbled granite staircases, you will soon find yourself in a multi-layered labyrinth.
More difficult than a department store to find your way out of (it may have been designed for that purpose) the market is housed in innumerable buildings.
The central complex is flanked on either side by roads and two rows of sloping front houses, which seem to be leaning backwards.
They have everything from hardware to bedding to hu tiu noodles and frogs.
The main complex is a two-building multi-storied shopper’s dream with hundreds of stalls selling a wide range of cheap goods.
These include a beautiful silk clothing store with a tailor shop and a massive embroidery workshop employing hundreds of women.
Produce is on the ground floor spilling out to the street and a roofed area.
Meals are on the mezzanine above.
The best part of the market is at the back where the stairs climb back up to Phan Boi Chau Street.
At the top of the stairs which lead to the bridge, dozens of clothes sellers call out their prices in short songs.
Trying to spot the maker of the forest-like calls is like finding a bird that is singing in the treetops.
They lay the cheap new jackets on the ground in tarps that are ingeniously set for a quick cover-up if it rains.
The alleys atop the old cobbled stairs are great for coffee and cheap food – while the stairs descend into a bazaar with endless passages bulging with second-hand clothes going off to the left and right.
An interesting community, separated from the rest, inhabits the terraces beside.
Live poultry sellers with country hats on their heads sit like land owners outside their dark chicken coops, defending the high ground from any hapless tourist.

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