30 Sep2013


This photo of innocent looking atis resulted in my camera being jinxed by a local vendor. I kid you not. My camera was POSSESSED and its lens DISABLED because I had probably stolen the souls of these fruit. Vietnamese (and Cambodia too) custom and beliefs dictate that taking a photograph of someone (or apparently something) may suck the life force out of the person, so tourists clicking away should be cognizant of this and take care when snapping away. These must be one of the few countries in the world where “facebook” or “instagram” doesn’t do too well considering that “selfies” are probably a no-no. Some of the younger generation seem amused and flippant about the custom, but older folks are NOT happy when you violate this rule… I was under the mistaken impression that I should NOT take focused shots of particular people without their permission, so I started snapping away at fruit at a market. Just after I clicked this photo, and the lady vendor who was standing over 8 feet away SCREAMED at me rather violently, my lens went haywire, and to make a long story short, I eventually had to pay nearly $40 to get it fixed back in Manila. I apologized to the lady, but the hex had already been implemented. Thankfully, the Teen had a spare lens with her so I managed to take some photos for the remainder of the trip… :)


I had to believe buddha’s fingers were a safe photo opportunity…


With so much fruit, vegetables, dried spices, condiments, etc. everywhere you looked, it was torture not to snap away freely, hence this post of a mish-mash of food related photos from the brief Hanoi visit. Note all ambulant vendors are photographed from behind. Above, gorgeous medium sized guavas, the basket lined with leaves just to let you know they are THAT freshly picked off the tree.


Freshly peeled and unpeeled water chestnuts.


Pomegranates and pears.


Passion fruit and those WONDERFUL limes.


A stolen photo through a hotel window with blinds of a lady vendor carefully peeling her pomelos. They looked great, but I think good Pinoy pomelos taste much better than the Vietnamese ones… :)


Delicious and freshly made rice noodles sold in baskets street side. However, a bit of caution, there have been MANY instances where government food experts have warned that the noodles, particularly when bright white, can often include harmful chemicals used to bleach them… :(


Large oranges with green skins.


A caged green turtle for sale at the market.


Cassia bark (sold as cinnamon to most folks around the world) in abundance.


Star anise so fresh it was pliant. Cardamom pods, dried fungus and other goodies.


More dried fungus.


Dried shrimp in various sizes and quality grades.


Dried/preserved fruits.


A basket of greens and veggies on the back of a bike.


Lansones vendor.


Dried peanuts with and without skins, dried mung beans and either split peas, yellow mung bearns or corn…


The Teen tried to sneak photos of sidewalk vendors while pretending to take my photo, but as you can see, the ruse didn’t really work that well. :)



  1. pixienixie says:

    Spent a minute or two looking at my browsing history because I couldn’t figure out which post of yours is missing from the front page, hehehe. Anyway, pliant star anise??? Wow! They’re one of my all-time favorite spices. I love throwing them in in a pot with beef chunks, garlic, onions, soy sauce, and mushroom. Super sarap and easy to make. :D

    Re: the picture-taking, I could just imagine how many times a day vendors have to scream at tourists snapping away!

    Sep 30, 2013 | 5:34 pm


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  3. bearhug0127 says:

    Love the pics, MM. (The shorts, too.)

    Sep 30, 2013 | 6:02 pm

  4. steve says:

    I’ve personally never had a problem taking photos of people, places, or things in SEA including Vietnam and Cambodia. I found the people natural performers and were more than happy to pose for a photograph. I just make sure as common courtesy to ask for permission before I do. Taking photographs at market stalls I often buy something from them first even if it’s just something small and inexpensive as a sign of good gesture.

    Perhaps the vendor that became angry with you just had bad experiences with tourist in the past. The idea that photographs took ones soul existed during the initial advent of photography. I know Native Americans were quite weary of having their image photographed but that was over a century ago. Do people in a modern and contemporary city really still believe that having their picture taken will take their soul away while at the same time they are watching TV and talking on their cell phone?

    Sep 30, 2013 | 7:46 pm

  5. Marketman says:

    steve, I too, thought it wasn’t going to be much of a problem. But as with our trip to Siem Reap several years ago, we were warned by locals not to push it… I will say that on our first hour out on the sidewalk, a lady gamely posed with her fried bread and other afternoon snacks, hoping she would make a sale. But I still asked her permission first before shooting her and the basket of goodies… While walking through a large market, I didn’t feel all that comfortable taking shots of alleys and several stalls at a time, and asking permission from multiple folks would have killed the moment…

    Sep 30, 2013 | 8:00 pm

  6. millet says:

    ohmyohmyohmy! that’s my favoritest fruit up there- atis! and now i feel bad that vietnam and all most of our neighboring countries have such gorgeous fruit and veggies, and we don’t.

    Sep 30, 2013 | 8:05 pm

  7. steve says:

    I agree first rule of photography. don’t take pictures of people who don’t want their pictures to be taken. there’s a number of reasons people don’t want to be photographed. respect whatever their reason may be. respecting the locals is quite important as well…

    Sep 30, 2013 | 8:12 pm

  8. Gej says:

    Wonderful pictures MM! Thanks for sharing. It’s my first time to see a numer of these. What are buddha’s fingers?

    Sep 30, 2013 | 8:21 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    Gej, buddha’s fingers, here. Unusual looking, often used as an offering at temples and the like…

    Sep 30, 2013 | 8:32 pm

  10. Cherryl says:

    Still nice shots under the circumstance! And better the camera getting hexed than you looking like Buddha’s Fingers after your trip. :D

    Sep 30, 2013 | 11:30 pm

  11. Ann-Katrin says:

    Awww, buddha’s head (which is the name I know it under), are they in season right now? Really like it!
    Glad your lens got fixed.

    Oct 1, 2013 | 12:19 am

  12. des says:

    i’m a newbie and loving the blog! makes me so much more excited to explore the markets of manila (and asia). love the photos! very informative and entertaining posts (pardon the gushing, i’m an instant fan ;)

    Oct 1, 2013 | 2:01 am

  13. EJ says:

    In over two and a half years in Vietnam, I did not encounter a single sour ripe mango. They were all sweet but our Philippines ones, when sweet, are still the best in the world! As to taking photographs, the older folk and those from the countryside are still very wary of having their photos taken – even if you buy stuff from them.
    By the way, do they still give away small bags containing cassia, peppercorns, star anise, etc in the Vietnamese restaurant at the Metropole?

    Oct 1, 2013 | 4:18 am

  14. Clarissa says:

    I eat the dried shrimp straight from the market whenever we go to Vietnam, though in Ho Chi Minh. I am sure there are some cautionary tales of doing this, but I just love them. And I love their fresh fruits. I always wonder why our local fruits are not that displayed abundantly. You just can’t help yourself from buying there :)

    Oct 1, 2013 | 8:07 am

  15. millet says:

    those are huge dried shrimp, MM..they must have been prawns in their past lives, unlike the teeny-tiny super-dessicated pieces that are on usual stock here. i can imagine your baggage going home ;-)

    Oct 1, 2013 | 8:18 am

  16. Marketman says:

    millet, I was VERY RESTRAINED in the luggage department… we were passing through HK on the way home and didn’t want to bring anything funky or fresh for that matter… :) EJ, nope, didn’t get any spices at the meals we had there…

    Oct 1, 2013 | 9:05 am

  17. Philip says:

    Use Wide angled lenses.

    Oct 1, 2013 | 1:36 pm

  18. ami says:

    Poor turtle! I hope it’s not destined to become turtle soup or something.

    pixienixie – I believe it’s the furniture sale post that is missing.

    Oct 1, 2013 | 1:41 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    ami and pixienixie, yes, I take down sale notices after the sale is done. :)

    Oct 1, 2013 | 9:38 pm

  20. vancalapano says:

    Ami, yes I agree. I hope the turtle will have a good fate with his buyer.

    Oct 2, 2013 | 9:07 am

  21. Julie says:

    I love the pictures of fruits and other exotica! The Buddha’s fingers look so interesting! I wonder what they taste like. Please write a feature about them :) Too bad about your camera, but what is going off on an adventure if it is without risks, right?

    Oct 2, 2013 | 9:59 am

  22. pixienixie says:

    Hehe, I figured! And thanks Ami for the response. :) I actually panicked a bit because I thought there’s something wrong with my browser or whatever, or there’s a new password that I somehow missed so I won’t be able to see all the posts (which is impossible since I think I visit this site numerous times a day). Had too much coffee yata…. @_@

    Oct 2, 2013 | 11:34 am

  23. cumin says:

    Thanks for this post, MM. The abundance and wide variety of incredibly fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, noodles, tofu, and soy milk in Vietnam was one its prime attractions, while living there. Buddha’s fingers must be new, I don’t remember seeing that in Hanoi. Did you try coffee with egg? Sounds weird, I know, but one sip and I was a convert.

    I had very little problem taking pictures then, people usually obliged when I asked. Sometimes I’d show them photos in my camera, before asking if I could take theirs — it always worked.

    Oct 2, 2013 | 4:43 pm

  24. Khew says:

    When I first heard of coffee with egg, it sounded weird but after thinking about it, it’s basically a coffee sabayon but in a different form. Likewise, chocolate cake made with mayonnaise. What’s mayo but oil, eggs and vinegar – perfect ingredients for a moist, well risen cake.

    Oct 2, 2013 | 9:57 pm

  25. victor says:

    Wow, wish I could get my hands on those “Atis.” My favorite fruit all time.

    Oct 4, 2013 | 8:27 pm

  26. marixie says:

    There’s another Filipino fruit similar to atis but bigger and has an orange/yellow peel (not green like atis). The name is “ananas” (pronounced Ananias). I grew up in Mindanao and we had this fruit shrub in our yard. I haven’t seen this fruit at all while living in Manila. I wonder if this fruit only grows in Southern Philippines (like the durian).

    Oct 5, 2013 | 5:24 am

  27. faith says:

    Our neighbor has anonas tree in their yard. :)
    @des, we’ll learn so many things from Mr. MM.. this is the first site i’m checking i’f im unsure of the name of fruits/veggies.. hehe

    Oct 5, 2013 | 1:07 pm

  28. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    First time looking at those colorful pix. of atis,lansones without envy for I am back home for a good # of months and enjoying these fruits!!most of the atis are pick fresh from relatives backyard with thick,sweet pulp.. Planning to travel to see SEA, after settling down to our new home..Thanks for all the tips on travels world wide,much appreciated!!

    Oct 6, 2013 | 6:46 am


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