Enjoy the Vietnamese kitchen: Hanoi Delights and Discover old temples: Hue Impressions

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Ethnic minorities around Sapa:
What makes the difference

Many ethnic minorities are living in and around Sapa: Hmong (pronounced Mong), Dao (pronounced Yao), Tay, Giay (pronounced Zai), Muong, Thai, Hoa (ethnic Chinese) and Xa Pho (a denomination of the Phu La minority group).

The Flower Hmong:
Flower Hmong have this name because of the bright colorful embroidery (called pa ndau, literally "flower cloth"). This needlework has geometric, symmetric and derived from nature motifs. "Pa ndau originated with ceremonial clothing for major life events including births, weddings, deaths, and for celebrating Tet, the New Year Festival", says wanderlustandlipstick.com.

Picture by Shawn Smith
A Flower Hmong woman sampling tobacco at the market in Bac Ha

Picture by exfordy

The Black Hmong: In SaPa Black Hmong are dressed in dark clothing dyed black with indigo. Black Hmong sub-groups have differentiated themselves by adopting different headwear; those with a large comb embedded in their long hair (but without a hat) call themselves Tao, those with a pillbox hat name themselves Giay, and those with a checked headscarf are Yao. The Black Hmong are thought to have immigrated to Northern Vietnam from China in the late 18th century and are descendants of the Miao people. See a video about Black Hmong in Sapa.

Picture by Lon&Queta
Hmong woman with plow and water buffalo; between Ta Van and Sapa

Picture by Lon&Queta

The Red Dao, also Red Zao: Easily recognized by the red colour. See a film about the Red Da in Ta Van and Ta Phin on youtube. Read: The unique ceremony of the Red Dao in Sa Pa

Picture by Von Wagner T. Cassimiro "Aranha" Tweet This

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Discoveries around Sapa

See the locations on Sapa Google Map

This blog recommends the following tours from Sapa:

Bac Ha Market, every Sunday: This market attracts villagers from the surrounding hill tribes as H’mong, Red Dao and Ha Nhi. Read more and see pictures: Bac Ha Market: The colours of life

Can Cau Market, every Saturday: The meeting point of the hilltribe people. It’s 20 km north of Bac Ha and just 9 km south of the Chinese border. Can Cau attracts a large number of Chinese traders, dog trade is booming here. Read more on bachatour.com

Picture by fotosjcavalheiro

Coc Ly Market, every Tuesday: About 35km from Bac Ha. The drive from Sapa takes around 2 1/2 hours. At the market you find Flower Hmong, Phu La and Dao Tuyen people. You can get here via a fairly good road or by road and river

Muong Hum Market, every Sunday: From Sapa you drive takes around three hours. The market is frequented by Tu Di, Dao Tuyen, H’Nhi, Flower Hmong and Giay people. You can also visit a H’Nhi village.

Mountain Biking to Red Dao Village and Topas Ecolodge: You head out from Sapa by cycling downhill into Muong Hoa and then Ban Ho valleys. The ride offers beautiful views. At the lodge you will have lunch in the Tay stilt restaurant. After lunch you walk to Topas Ecolodge, from where you enjoy breathtaking views across the valleys below, which are home to villages of Tay, Red Dao and Xa Pho minorities. Later you will cycle over to the nearby Red Dao village of Lech. After visiting the village you cycle back to the lodge from where you will return to Sapa by car. Approx: 2 hours driving/ 4 hours cycling/ 1 hour walking.

Picture by Topas Ecolodge

Ham Rong Mountain: You follow the road by the church in the center of Sapa Town to the end and take the left turn, then continue hiking up the gradient leading to Ham Rong Mountain. Up there you find the San May (Cloud Yard) to enjoy the panorama of Sapa Town. But you discover as well orchid gardens with colorful flowers. Ham Rong Mountain also has numerous caves and stones in extraordinary shapes. It may take you from 1 to 2 hours to go up to the top and return. If you start in the early morning you will see a traditional performance of ethnic music. It usually starts at 10 am.

Picture by Nguyễn Tuấn Quang
Sapa seen from Ham Rong Mountain

Ta Van Village: It is located at an altitude of 1816 meters in the valley of Muong Hoa. Ta van is a village of Giay people, who look more like the traditional Viet living the Red delta, and Black Hmong. To get here from Sapa hire a car or motorbike for the 9km road down to the Hmong village of Lao Chai. It’s a nice ride with great views of the rice terraces.

Picture by marhas
Shortly after Sapa the Muong Hoa Valley comes into your view - with Lao Chai in the background

Picture by marhas
On the way you discover butterflies

Picture by marhas
Buffalos glance at you before they eat on

Picture by marhas
Ricefield in Lao Chai

Picture by marhas
Local women - here a Black Hmong woman - follow you to sell their goods

Picture by marhas
Muong Hoa River in front of you

Picture by marhas
Black Hmong woman on her way

From Lao Chai you follow the valley to Ta Van. You will walk through terraced rice fields and among picturesque villages and experience the rural life of Hmong an Dao people. In Ta Van you gan get a home stay with a family of Giay people, sharing dinner with them (see picture by Shona McCallum), read homestay experience by Elandri. See also the description of the hike from Sapa to Ta Van by planetcraig.id.au and by MsTamHo. And read more on life in Ta Van Village. Teacher Elandri about English teaching in Ta Van.

Picture by kaige
Rice fields on the way to Ta Van

Picture by Anete og Jan
In the village of Ta Van

Long Tong Festival in Sapa: Early in spring, often from the 5th to the 15th day of the first lunar month. During this festival the Tay people and other ethnic groups worship Village gods, Mountain and Stream gods. Cult of fecundity. You can see xoe dancing.

Tour agents for Sapa:

Learn first about Sapa: Sapa Impressions

Where to stay: Hotels and Guesthouses in Sapa and reviews of guests

Restaurants in Sapa: Where you eat in Sapa

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