LAO CAI – Market of the Ha Nhi, Mong, and Giay ethnic groups in the border commune of Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, colorful with traditional brocade costumes, agricultural products and rustic cuisine in the region.
Y Ty is a commune located near the Chinese border in Bat Xat district, about 70 km from Lao Cai city center. Located at an altitude of more than 2,000 m above sea level, Y Ty is famous in the eyes of tourists for its “specialty” of thick, white clouds.
Like other highland communes, Y Ty people hold a market once a week on Saturday in the commune center. Y Ty market is a gathering place for ethnic minorities in Bat Xat district, of which the Ha Nhi ethnic group is the majority, followed by the Mong and Giay ethnic groups.
To get to the market, many people from far away have to carry goods on their backs, start at 2-3am in the cold rain, walk a long way through the forest, wade streams to get there. In the cold season, the market opens later than in the summer and starts to get crowded around 7-8am, shared Mr. Bach Hai Hoang, owner of a homestay in the area.
Nguyen Tran Hieu, 28 years old, Ho Chi Minh City, came to Y Ty market on a trip to the Northwest from January 17. For him, Y Ty market is not as big as Meo Vac, Ha Giang, but has its own attractions. At the end of the year, people come to shop, preparing for the new year, “the atmosphere is bustling, sellers and buyers are all smiling and excited”.
The market is divided into 4 areas selling 4 main items: traditional costumes, cuisine, agricultural products outdoors and warm clothes, everyday clothes indoors.
The brilliant handmade brocade dresses, shirts, and scarves displayed in the market are what impress visitors. Traditional costumes not only show the skillful and meticulous workmanship of the people but also show the multiculturalism of the peoples.
Mr. Hieu bought two Dao people’s scarves as souvenirs for 25,000 VND each.
Going around the market, visitors can see the diversity and differences in the culture of each ethnic group.
The costumes of the Ha Nhi people (pictured) are often easily recognizable with blue, black or indigo tones, while the costumes of the Mong people are more eye-catching with striking colors. The Mong people’s jewelry also has more details, while the Dao people mainly use silver bracelets with engraved patterns on the surface.
The most prominent place at the market is the stall selling fabrics, clothes, accessories, and traditional items of the Ha Nhi, Mong, and Giay ethnic people in Bat Xat district. This area attracts women to do beauty shopping.
People bring to the market to sell home-grown agricultural products such as chickens and Ban Pigs; vegetables, tubers and fruits; cooking spices; utensils; some herbs such as Gynostemma Lan, Hoang Sin Co ginseng.
But the specialties of Y Ty market must include the wild vegetables that people pick and bring to the market such as dong quai, pa phi vegetables, green vegetables and fresh cardamom.
Donuts (pictured), flower cakes, and jelly are popular at the market and sell very well. Donuts cost 2,000 VND each, while noodles and pho cost 30,000 VND for a full bowl, with enough vegetables and meat, Mr. Hieu said.
Located far from the center of Lao Cai City, not many tourists come to Y Ty market, especially when the weather is cold and foggy, and the roads are muddy. The peak season for Y Ty tourism falls in September, the ripe rice season, October and November, the rattan hunting season and after Tet, Mr. Hoang added.
On the contrary, Mr. Hieu found it interesting to go to Y Ty market in the winter. In addition to learning and experiencing the daily lives of people through the market, visitors can feel the difficulties and hardships of making a living for the highland people here.
In addition to the purpose of buying and selling goods, Y Ty market is also a place where people come to interact, visit relatives, and share experiences in labor and production.
The market has become a typical cultural feature, deeply ingrained in the lives of Y Ty people. Children in highland areas often follow their parents and grandparents to the market from a young age.
Photo: Internet (Vinlove.net)