If visitors have the opportunity to visit Hanoi, you should not skip the trips to the highland region. Explore here, visitors will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the cultural diversity of ethnic groups in Vietnam. Cultural characteristics of ethnic groups are most evident in the market place. In the northern mountainous provinces, the market is not just a place of sale and exchange of goods, but also bears a meaning, a cultural beauty of each region. Can Cau Market is one of the popular markets of the Northwest, organizing weekly on Saturday morning at the bottom of Can Chu Su, Can Cau Commune, Si Ma Cai District, Lao Cai Province.
Can Cau Market is also called by a rustic name that is cattle market, because there, in addition to selling daily activities items, also has a large area to sell buffalo, calves, and horses. Can Cau Market was spontaneous from dozen years ago. After October when crops were harvested, each house has a few people going to the market. Not only adults but also children and the elderly also come making the market crowded as the festival. Especially, in Cau Market, apart from lowland and abroad tourists, the majority of participants are Hmong and Giay people, however, the market is organized following the trading style of the Yao.
The market is located along the mountainside and forms three different parts. One area is for selling local products including brocade, embroidery, herbs, spices, vegetables. The two remaining areas are places of food and household items such as flashlights, ropes, hoe blades, toothbrushes and the widest area is the place of cattle sale. In spite of selling cattle, goats, horses, the largest numbers are buffalo. Therefore, Can Cau Market is called buffalo market. Contrary to envision of a spontaneous cattle market with noisy sounds of purchasing and bargaining, visiting Can Cau Buffalo Market, visitors will hear only the buzz of negotiation and evaluation to buffalo of the buyer.
Occasionally, the tone of khene (Khèn) emerges gently and steadily making the space warmer in the southern highland. Khene is a musical instrument of Hmong and you will not be difficult to catch this typical sound in Can Cau or in Sapa. Each fair here has about 50-70 buffaloes which are bought and sold. The price of a buffalo can be the career of the people.
The most impressive in this market is the colorful dresses of Hmong which are exhibited to sell. Visitors can be surprised to witness the sophisticated embroidery and decorative motifs on the dresses. There are handmade dresses losing all years to form, therefore, there is no wonder that the sale price is expensive, up to the million dong. Besides, tourists are also very easy to be fascinated by the jewelry stalls with all beautiful and eye-catching sorts of rings, bracelets, earrings.
Here, it cannot help mentioning “Thắng cố” – the specialty of the mountainous province. The pots of “Thắng cố” rises smoke and 5-10 people sits around the table and drinks until the market finishes. Beside “Thắng cố” and corn wine, the market has many attractive dishes. There are dishes like steamed rice noodles of the lowland, but it has a dark color and can be served with boiled pork or bouillon stewed from bones. There is also a lot of cakes made from corn, cassava, sticky rice.
Like many other fairs, Can Cau Market is a place to date and chat with friends. They do not go to the market for the purpose of trafficking but mainly for pleasure and emotional exchanges. Therefore, Can Cau Market is not merely a trade but becomes distinctive culture of Northwestern residents
Leaving the market, hidden behind the cliffs, the sound of khene, the image of the colorful dresses of ethnic Hmong, healthy buffaloes standing on the mountains or the pots of “Thắng cố” will still imprint on the minds of tourists. The impression on a Northwestern market has characterized culture which will fascinate visitors. Discovering Can Cau market when traveling to Lao Cai will be an exciting and unforgettable experience for visitors.