At the base of Yen Tu and along the trail to the Dong Pagoda (1068m), the chief commodity for sale is young bamboo, plucked fresh from the forest, trimmed and bundled in string. Vaguely resembling asparagus with thick woody white stems rising to finer green or purple tips, this local specialty is peddled with vigour by members of this community. Grubby little urchins appear from the undergrowth with string sacks of it, feisty young women in blue workers shirts stand their ground on price with equally astute Hanoian hagglers.
In the car park at 5pm, as pilgrims drag their weary limbs into vehicles, the bamboo pushers persist. Escaping the site minus a bunch would be miraculous. Being foreign, I manage it.
What would I do with it in the kitchen anyway?