Shopping for love in Vietnam's mountains

Wed May 26, 2010 10:41pm EDT
 
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By Nguyen Van Vinh

KHAU VAI, Vietnam (Reuters Life!) - Once a year, with his wife's blessing, Lau Minh Pao gets to have a guilt-free tryst with his ex.

Their rendezvous' have played out more like strolls down memory lane than salacious flings, but they are part of a treasured tradition in this mountainous corner of northern Vietnam that may challenge some more linear concepts of love.

"In the past, we were lovers, but we couldn't get married because we were far apart," Pao simply as he waited for his date on a dark night in the village of Khau Vai in Ha Giang province.

Now when they meet, he said, "we pour our hearts out about the time when we were in love."

They are not alone.

For two days each year, on the 26th and 27th of the third month of the lunar calendar, the tiny village of Khau Vai, strung along a saddle in the lush hills near China, is transformed into a "love market."

Hundreds of members of Giay, Nung, Tay, Dzao, San Chi, Lo Lo and Hmong hill tribes, among others, trek in from across the mountainous districts nearby to attend.

Pao's wife was there, too, meeting her old flame.   Continued...

 
<p>The love market village of Khau Vai is seen from the top of a mountain in Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province, 500 km (310 mi) north of Hanoi May 9, 2010. REUTERS/Kham</p>