A monthly doll flea market in Ho Chi Minh City has become a get-together place for the city’s doll collectors, who use the event as an opportunity to share their hobby and show off their creativity.
Launched in September 2018 and open to visitors on the first Saturday of every month, Doll Flea Market is a fair designed to celebrate dolls and doll accessories.
“In Ho Chi Minh City, there was no playground for doll lovers,” said Vu Thi Thanh Thao, founder of Doll Flea Market, adding that her aim in setting up such a fair was to create a fun and helpful place for doll hobbyists.
Now in its seventh consecutive month, it appears that Doll Flea Market has surpassed Thao’s expectations, as it currently boasts visitors of all ages from throughout Ho Chi Minh City.
|Dolls are displayed at Doll Flea Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Pham Thi Kieu Nga, a District 5 resident, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that coming to Doll Flea Market helps her “satisfy a passion” and “reduce stress caused by a lot of pressure” in daily life.
“I’m very happy to be able to visit the market,” said Giang, another attendee who recently moved to Ho Chi Minh City from her husband’s hometown in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
“Collecting dolls is more reasonable and inspiring than other activities like drinking or bar-going,” Giang explained.
|A little girl is carried in a baby stroller to the Doll Flea Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Bui Thi My Lien, a frequent visitor to Doll Flea Market and doll collector, told Tuoi Tre that she has yet to miss a single Doll Flea Market.
The 59-year-old woman said that she possesses a collection of nearly 1,000 dolls, including many Paula and Barbie dolls.
“I don’t have million-dollar dolls, but I wouldn’t let you buy my ‘girls’ even if you offered me a fortune,” said Lien.
“They’re priceless to me.”
|A woman views a doll displayed at Doll Flea Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Likewise, Nguyen Lan Huong, 55, and her younger sister Nguyen Phuong Dung, 45, were excitedly carrying their ‘shopping spoils’ throughout the fair.
Huong, who has been collecting dolls for nine years, told Tuoi Tre that she now spends VND20 million (US$860) on dolls at every meeting of Doll Flea Market.
But the man with the memorable experience in doll collection among Doll Flea Market goers might be Le Hoang Nhat, a tour guide living in Ho Chi Minh City who claims he once helped his friend undertake a ‘sex reassignment surgery’ for a doll.
|Nguyen Lan Huong, 55, and her younger sister Nguyen Phuong Dung, 45, goes shopping at Doll Flea Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
“For the first time in my whole life, I carried a girl doll with a V-line chin, glitter eyes and long hair to Thailand for sex reassignment,” Nhat told Tuoi Tre.
“Two months later, I received a boy doll with a masculine appearance from top to toe,” he recalled.
From expensive to branded, certificated dolls, visitors can find a wide range of offers from the Ho Chi Minh City doll fair at its modest 15 stalls in a café space in District 1.
Despite being a costly hobby, Doll Flea Market is a testament to the love many Vietnamese have for their dolls.
|A woman and her child look at a doll displayed at Doll Flea Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|