Once visiting Sapa, tourists cannot help participating in markets of local people. It is the place that expresses cultural features most fully. Of all Sapa markets, Simacai market is becoming a promising destination of tourists from all around the world thanks to traditional customs and habits which has not been affected by tourist commercialization.
To reach Si Ma Cai market, visitors have to drive about 90 kilometers from Lao Cai city. However, the tiredness would be dispelled by roadside scenery with superb mountain ranges and unspoiled wild forests. Up the hill are some house roofs of local people which seem to be floating in the cloud. Simacai market takes place along the road 153, surrounded with successive terraced fields clinging to the mountain.
Si Ma Cai market is the fair of H’mong and Dzay ethnic groups but is held in Dao people’s way. It is said that Si Ma Cai is derived from a phase of H’mong people, which means “new horse fair”. The fair takes place on weekly Saturday and holidays. The best time to enjoy Si Ma Cai market is in early morning. At that time, tourists have the opportunity not only to participate in purchasing goods but also to contemplate the atmosphere of preparing. When the sun has not risen yet, H’mong men have ridden their horse down the mountain leading buffaloes and cows to sell. The market gradually becomes noisy because of chatting voices which signals the upcoming fair.
The market is divided into several separate areas for various exchanging items. These goods such as vegetables, herbs, spices, utensils and colorful brocades create a separate area and are presented onto the plastic sheet on the ground. The most bustling one may be the area for cattle and poultry. Local people believe that a good buffalo will make their agricultural career flourishing. There is no fixed price here. The price is dealt by the seller and the buyer and depended on the quality of those buffaloes.
The food area is indispensible in the trip. The most delicious dishes are served in substandard tents. Tourists may have the opportunity to enjoy unique cuisine with various dishes. Foods are cooked right in tents with fresh ingredients. No one can resist the scent and smoke spiraling up from hot soups. Famous dishes are “thang co”, sour tofu and corn wine of Simacai. Of all food, “thang co”, a soup mixed by internal organs of some animals like pig, cow and buffalo, may be the most worth-trying one.
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