Old items, for many people, probably have little value. But at the flea market they can become a unique item to others, because it is associated with the past of many people, while it is also considered as evidence of a historical period.
For collectors, the most frequently mentioned flea market is Van Phuc flea market in Ha Dong district, Hanoi. Here, with the morning light, the sound of sellers displaying their wares has dispelled the quiet atmosphere.
The market is full of buyers and sellers with many products. Customers are mainly the old and collectors. They go around the markets, looking carefully at each product before deciding to haggle and buy.
According to Quang, who has a lot of experience in collecting antiques, every month, there are only six market days, on the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th and 30th days of the lunar month. For this reason, in order to find the precious items, the customers should go to the market early.
In an area of nearly one hectare, there are hundreds of booths. As the sun rises the characteristics, as well as an abundance of goods, gradually appear.
The customers give all of their attention to contemplating the products making the space become quiet. Occasionally, some songs are played on old cassettes, which carry famous brands from 20 to 30 years ago.
The market is divided into many areas with different types of products. There are places to attract customers with pottery products, vases, bowls and plates that were produced a long time ago.
Meanwhile, another area is filled with electronic products, from cassette tapes to speaking-trumpets, which had disappeared in Vietnam for a long time. An area sells luxury items such as watches, bicycles, and even rusty Simson motorbikes.
The most visited area features popular products attached to the difficult subsidy period, with items such as typewriters, ancient cameras, Manchon lamp and charcoal irons. The senior citizens cannot take their eyes off these objects, as they try to find souvenirs of the old days.
Nguyen Van Hung, from Long Bien District, Hanoi, stroked a typewriter, while sharing that, over 30 years ago, the typewriter was his family's most familiar thing; it seems that coming to the market has help him to find the old souvenir.
In addition to the Van Phuc flea market, the “weekend market” at Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Ba Dinh district is also a popular flea market. The market is called "Weekend Market" because the market days are only open at 8am every Saturday.
The 400-square-metre market doesn’t have as many items as the Van Phuc flea market, however, according to the collectors the market’s products are higher quality than the products at Van Phuc flea market, because all of the items have been painstakingly collected.
For many years, the market has been a place for antique collectors in the provinces and cities, such as Thanh Hoa, Nam Dinh, Hai Phong and Hanoi, to meet and exchange their items and experience.
The highlight of the market is the stalls selling war remnants, which are part of the memory of the veterans. The market attracts young and old alike. While elderly people come to the market to look for items that hold memories of their childhood or the war years, the youth mostly come to indulge their collecting hobbies or learn more about items used by previous generations.
The flea markets have become a place where people gather to buy and sell antiques and reminisce about the old days.