Sapa gears up for Festival in the Mist
18:13' 20/04/2006 (GMT+7)
The sweet singing of young men and women courting each other and other traditional rites and crafts of ethnic minority groups of Lao Cai Province will take centerstage at the long-awaited Le Hoi Tren May, or Festival in the Mist, in Sapa from late next week.
The festival will kick off in the northern mountainous resort town with the opening of a food market on April 28.
Nguyen Dinh Dung from the Lao Cai Service of Trade and Tourism says local restaurants and hotels will serve a wide selection of food specialties of hill tribes from different parts of the province.
An exhibition of ornamental trees and colourful flowers of all kinds and shapes is also on the program. A lot of photos will go on display, depicting the misty town’s peoples and landscapes in the past and now.
Excitement will rise in the night of April 29 when young men and women from nearby villages gather at the cho tinh (love market) to woo each other by singing traditional songs.
Dung says the old-style love market will begin at 10 p.m. in the Flower Garden and on Xuan Vien and Ham Rong streets for visitors to gain an insight into the distinctive custom of Sapa’s peoples.
Young montagnards, particularly Red Dao, usually congregate for the weekly courting rite on Saturday nights. Man and woman become a couple if the ballads they sing ring in harmony.
Although looking for one’s better half at the love market has been a long tradition of some of the town’s ethnic minority groups, the influence of modern life has changed the way young people express their affection.
Today they sing love songs instead of blowing ken la (leaf-horn) and chanting affectionately as they used to do in the town discovered by the French more than 100 years ago.
At the love market during the festival, both the Giay and Red Dao people will show the courting singing rite by a fire, and the Giay People will demonstrate the ceremony for receiving the bride.
Ham Rong Mountain is one of the festive spots during the Festival in the Mist. Dung says artists of the H’mong, Dao, Giay, Tay and Xa Pho will take turns to perform dances and songs of their peoples for visitors to the Ham Rong Mountain Tourist Area on April 29 and 30.
People of each hill tribe will also dish up their food specialties for lunch on these days. In addition, Ham Rong Mountain will host a relay running race up the 1,750-meter-high mountain, tug-of-war, di ca kheo (walking on stilts) and other folk games of the ethnic minority groups.
The groups will also exhibit their jewellery, tools, musical instruments, cay neu (bamboo trees for the New Year), paintings and costumes in the tourist area.
Dao and H’mong peoples will demonstrate their weaving skills, and Giay artisans will show their techniques for forging tools and engraving silverware.
Besides all this, the panoramic scenery of Sapa and a variety of orchids on the mountain draw eyes.
At a fair in the town’s stadium from April 28 until May 3, souvenirs made of silver, tho cam (ethnic fabric), embroidery, handicrafts, ceramics and garments will go on show and sale.
Travel agencies will also participate in the fair, providing tours for visitors to discover the beautiful landscapes and cultures of Lao Cai, particularly of Sapa, which is also called “the Beautiful Girl in the Mist.”
The most popular way to get to Sapa is to travel by train the 330 kilometres from Hanoi to Lao Cai Station and by car the 35 kilometres from the station to the resort town. single train trip costs some VND 250,000, while the car ride is VND 25,000.