"Where Flower Hmongs gather on Sunday" Bac Ha by akikonomu
Bac Ha Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 49 photos
As part of a side trip from Sa Pa, we followed a local tour to Bac Ha on Sunday morning for an experience of the minority vilagers' market day .
The trip takes about 2 hours from Lao Cai and a small part of the journey had us running along the banks of the river separating Vietnam from China. Our guide jokingly told us that we could swim across the river within half an hour and tell people that we have stepped into China.
Of course, the easier way would have been to cross the bridge from Lao Cai.
The rain in the morning created thick mist that shrouded the surrounding mountains and it was a beautiful sight to see the peaks of the mountains peeping out from the top of the mist or simply the rolling mist.
Most of the trip was uphill and could get a bit rough where parts of the road was in a state of severe disrepair or damaged by mini landslides after the rain.
The majority of the minority villagers (pardon the oxymoron) that gather to trade in the Sunday market are Flower Hmongs. They are distinguished by their colourful costumes and checked head scarf.
The more interesting part of the market (in my opinion) is watching the ladies trade in livestock such as pigs, cattle, horses, poultry, puppies and kittens (I suppose they really do eat them).
Sqwaking and writhing animals, however, can get a little bit disturbing after a while.
Walk around the fringe of the market into town and you'll easily find shops hawking souvenirs (which look as though they constitute part of a mass factory production) and more horses and cattle parked all around.
We later learnt from another villager that the locals have mostly sold off their horses and cows in exchange for motorbikes that get them to places more quickly and efficiently than the plodding creatures.
The guide would have brought us on a short trek to a Hmong village had the weather been better. Instead, we took a bus and trekked shortly around the village. In the village, we came close up to the villagers returning from the market, or leading their cattle to graze around the fields.
Like most parts of the treks around Sa Pa and Bac Ha, beautiful rice terraces and fields were aplenty.
On our way back to Lao Cai,we stopped awhile to watch Vietnamese farmers planting rice in the fields. Watching them at work reminded me of a song we sang during my early school days, and which I never truly related to until today.
A very true reflection of the lyrics of the song -
"Planting rice is never fun
Bend from morn' til set of sun
Cannot stand and cannot sit
Cannot rest a little bit"
So, better pick up all the grains of rice served during dinner, part of very hard work by farmers.
- Pros:Good place to see minority villagers trade
- Cons:Getting more and more touristy
- In a nutshell:Brace yourself for squealing pigs
Stop a while beside the rice fields to see farmers hard at work. As the altitude of Bac Ha is lower than that of Sa Pa... more travel advice
If you follow a guided tour, the advantage is that the guide can lead you through a minority village, and visit a local... more travel advice
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