Before my trip my students told me that Sapa was famous for two things:
Famous Thing #1: The Love Market
Supposedly every Saturday night ethnic boys come to the market to find their wives. When I say "boys" I mean boys. The grooms-to-be are fifteen years old. And well, their wives-to-be are even younger -- they're thirteen. I was told that the boys come and play traditional ethnic instruments and then walk up to a girl who they like and tap their foot on top of the girl's foot. If the girl taps the boy's foot back they're a couple. If she doesn't, the boy is rejected.
Despite all the hype about the love market, it just wasn't what it was cracked up to be. We saw four teenage boys playing traditional instruments but no girls in sight. Huyen told us that times have changed and now the boys go somewhere to look at pictures of the girls. If they like the girls I guess the girls are then showed pictures of the boys. Yeah, it's only a couple of years before internet dating hits the ethnic tribes.
Famous Thing #2: The Sapa Grill
All around the center of town people set up shop along the edge of the street to sell grilled stuff. Basically they grill everything. The standard items were eggs, sticky rice, pork, chestnut-like things and sweet potatoes. However, once in a while something a little odder would show up on the grill. For example, before we knew it, we were grilling up tiny birds from the forest. The birds were so small that three of them fit on one skewer. The feathers were plucked but that's about all the preperation there was. Once the birds were grilled we just popped them into our mouth.
Check them out in the video:
PJ took a bite of his and then gave it to me. I think the brains oozing out of one on the grill kind of turned him off. Can you say "rookie"?