Back in January of 2010 I came to live in Saigon permanently and my first apartment was on Tan Da Street in District 5 – an area of the city’s “Chinatown” also known as Cho Lon – a treasure trove of food, culture and history.

Just a short stroll from my apartment, I discovered Cho Xa Tay, a small local market that cuts between Nguyen Trai and Tran Hung Dao Streets.

In this video I return to “my” local market that was, I must admit, quite a challenging place for me.

I was fresh off the boat, knew nothing much about Vietnamese culture and had little experience negotiating the vagaries of market life, let alone the piercing stares and jibes of the market ladies.

The type of shopping I was used to was one where meat came plastic wrapped, fish was well and truly dead waiting to be bought from refrigerators, and the only thing I stubbed my toes on were the wheels of the supermarket shopping cart.

But now I’ve returned to my neighbourhood market a much more seasoned and worldly traveller and someone with a better understanding of the Vietnamese way of life, including a repertoire – albeit small – of Vietnamese words and phrases sufficient enough for a quick chat with the ladies.

Look out market ladies, here I come!

Words by Matthew Cowan. Follow Matt on Instagram & Facebook

Filmed, edited & produced by Melanie Casul. Follow Mel on Instagram at @melaniecasul