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30/10/2020 - 08:54

Going to Cau Dat market

If you only visit the temples and mausoleums when coming to Hue and forget the markets, it will be a big mistake. There are many famous markets in Hue, such as Dong Ba, An Cuu, etc., and also ones with bizarre names, like Niu market, Ke market, No market, Cau Kho market and so on.

Cau Dat market now has been renamed to Thuan Hoa market

Cau Dat Market is a special market in the west of Hue Citadel and next to the bridge leading to Chuong Duc gate.

In the autumn days, when the rain starts to fall on the city and dispels the summer heat; and when going out at early mornings or late at night then feeling chilly, I would come back to Hue, to see patches of mossy on the ancient citadel walls, to carry shopping basket to Cau Dat market with my mother. This market has been associated with my childhood, with snacks such as sweet cutlass bean soup, fried "banh chung" (sticky rice cake) of my early days.

Located on Le Huan Street, Cau Dat market now only occupies a small corner; there are no vendors sitting around along each small alley as before. My mother said that food and drink now are available in supermarkets, and people even "ship" food to their home, so the small markets keep shrinking.

Those who stick all their lives with the market life continue their days of earning their living, like the lady selling fresh tea leaves have been selling in the market for more than 30 years, and the old woman selling roast pork for 40 years sitting in the corner of the small market. She said, "After forty years of chopping pork, now I can do it with my eyes closed".

Chuong Duc Gate is a place chosen by many young people to save their memories when coming to Hue

Cau Dat market is still divided "according to layers" as before. Outside the market are still the fruit and porridge stands, followed by the booths selling cloth, clothes, then the dry goods, spices, fruits and vegetables and the farthest stands are for selling fish and meat.

Despite its small size, the market is full of fresh produce from Hue gardens and local fish from Tam Giang lagoon. And although the market's administrative name was changed to Thuan Hoa market, people living in the area are still familiar with the name "Cau Dat".

I still remember that the movie named "The moon at the bottom of the well" by the Director Nguyễn Vinh Sơn chose this market as the setting for some of the film's scenes.

It is said that markets are always noisy and thrilling with the sound of sellers and buyers, but with this market, it seems to be covered by Hue's unique quietness, so it's not as noisy and bustling as other markets. This is perhaps because of the leisurely living pace of people living in the Citadel that gives the market a unique feeling.

Stepping out of the market, crossing the street and walking on the bridge which leads to the illuminated door called Chuong Duc Gate. This is a door exclusively for the queen, concubines as well as the imperial maids to enter the citadel; this door is now rarely open for guests. So there is always a feeling in everybody's heart that the palace is a revered place with high walls and closed gates when they have the opportunity to visit this place.

Hue is considered as a big film studio because people can take beautiful photos and make movies anywhere or in any corners. And, my sisters and I, after visiting Cau Dat market, also walked on that bridge together to save the memories of the time once visiting the old homeland.

Story and photos: NAM GIAO

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