Cat Cat Village – the home of Mong ethnic people in Lao Cai

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(TITC) –  Located 3km from Sa Pa Town center, in Hoang Lien Son mountain foot, Cat Cat Village (San Sa Ho Commune, Sa Pa District, Lao Cai Province) is welknown destination to whom like discover unique cultures of Northwest mountainous region of Viet Nam.

The Mong ethnic people have lived in Cat Cat Village since the mid-19th century. In early 20th century, French chose the village for officials to relax. There is a beautiful waterfall call CatScat in French so it become the name of village.

The village has nearly 80 houses along the brick-paved path, some ones on the mountain sides. Following some hundred steps to Cat Cat center, visitors are attracted by the beauty of Tien Sa, Gold, Silver streams and Cat Cat Waterfall where many tourists stop to take photograph on the Si or A Lu suspension bridges.

In the village, each house is some tens of meters far from another. They contain ancient features in architecture. Three – compartment house are roofed with Pomu wood and structured by rafters with three horizontal columns. These columns are placed on round or square stones. Walls are made of sawn timer with three doors: main door is placed in the central compartment of the house; two side doors are placed at the end of the house. The main door is always closed and will be opened only when there is an important even such as Tet holidays, weddings, funerals, or feasts, inlaid floor for food storage, beds and guest room. The unique thing is rice mortar run by water power.

Besides cultivating and breeding, they have maintained many traditional handicrafts, remarkably growing cotton, flax and clothing weave. Owing to looms, Mong women have made colorful weaved clothing with many patterns imitating trees, leafs, flowers and animals. Cat Cat village is famous with manipulating silver, copper or aluminum jewelry, one of traditional and long term handicraft, which has creates extremely sophisticated products. Visiting here, tourists can buy women jewelry such as necklace, arms, rings… as souvenirs.

Tourists to Cat Cat are most attracted by its unique customs, including the custom of "pulling wife". When a man fall in love a gilf, he has a party to prepare a plan to lure a girl to his house and keeps her there in three days. During these days, if the girl agrees to become his wife, a wedding will be held. However, the girl can happily go home after three days if she does not like him. 

The largest event in  the first days of new year reflecting spirit of Mong people is Gau Tao festival which be held to pray for good weather, good harvest, peace and health. Coming festval, visitors have chance to enjoy local food like corn wine, thang co, “khang gai” bacon, frog cooke with bamboo shoot, corn cake…

To develop the potential tourism in Cat Cat Village, Lao Cai Province’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department organized programmes such as the “Cultural destival in Cat Cat Village” and the tours “A day of being a Mong ethnic farmer”  or “A day of being a Mong bride”. Participating in these programmes visitors will experience many cultural activities of the Mong people through traditional dances, folk games like bow shooting, catching a goal while blindfolded, tug of rope, or enjoy giao duyen singing, silver carving, line weaving, brocade embroiding, coulter forging…

Hong Thanh