We have been to many countries and their markets. While travelling through Laos, we noticed that pretty much every grocery market was dominated by women. At least the majority of stallholders were women.
Of course there are exceptions to be found – like for example only men sell tobacco – but the rest is in the hand of women. I guess that men rather tend to keep cattle than selling it. Why? I can only speculate :) Maybe it’s easier to walk around with the herds all day, lying under a tree and dreaming about the new cellphone … nah, I’m just kidding :D But I do have to say that during all of our travels, we’ve noticed that a lot of really tough work (carrying rocks in India and so on) is done by women. I’d really be interested on why this is the case. Input anyone?
Anyway, on a well assorted market (if you come at the right time in the morning) everything is in full swing; people are arriving and leaving … some of them even travel the entire night to sell their goods at the weekly market. It’s a place of gossiping – which is very women like of course – and chit chat. At least before the mobile phone was introduced to the even remotest area … So the markets are always a noisy affair and people tend to check goods which they are going to buy very thoroughly (whether these are veggies, herbs, eggs or meat).
Yes, and at these markets you can find things that will never ever (!) appear in a (western) supermarket.
The photos below are all very bearable (in our opinion) but if you want the “real tough stuff”, you should check out our article about wet markets around the world (caution – this is nothing for veggies or vegans!!)
1. Bush meat (alive or dead).
Bush meat is still a common sight on many markets in remote areas – no matter if the animal is protected or not. One has to understand that these people are mostly not very educated and well, meat is meat … One of these protected animals is the Aguti. It’s a very rare endangered rodent. We spotted an animal on a market in Thakhek, which looked quite similar. We we’re only able to take one picture because the stall woman covered it immediately and it was gone when we came back to the stall after a while.
2. All sorts of other dead animals.
Whether it’s just a fish or a skinned bulls head – you’ll find whatever your heart desires (not desires for that matter).
3. Fresh vegetables.
The Lao kitchen is one of the best in Asia. If you know what not to eat (pork, etc.), you pretty much can’t go wrong with whatever is on the menu. Vegetables are always fresh and tasty!
4. Fresh fruits.
If you’re a fruit lover, South-east Asia is the right spot for you. You’ll get fresh papayas, mangoes, pineapples, water melons, rambutans and many many more at any market.
5. A lot of people.
As I already said, people come together at markets, so it can be a very crowded place. Especially if the market is only once a week. Then the entire village (and of course the surrounding villages) can be found there. So, if one wants a true experience of a country and their people, one of the first visits should be to the local market.