The northernmost province of Ha Giang continues to mesmerize visitors not only for its imposing stone plateaus but also because of the unique market displays by the local ethnic groups. The cow market in Meo Vac district, which convenes every Sunday, showcases the unique cultural identity of the Mong, Dao and Lo lo ethnic groups.
The Meo Vac cattle market, held every Sunday in Ha Giang province, is unique in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam. Market goers must start early in the morning. Those selling cattle have to wake up the earliest, usually around midnight, to walk their cows to market. Many walk dozens of miles, climb mountains and cross streams to get there, yet they never appear to be tired and are always smiling and cheerful. In addition to cattle, there are also dogs, goats and pigs for sale at the market. Despite being tied up, a few chubby pigs are still able to run around while the goats lie near their owner’s feet and dogs wag their tails to greet passers-by. The first sellers start to arrive around 5 am. The echoes of the clop, clop, clop of cattle hooves can be heard throughout the forests and mountains as they make their way to the market. Visitors can see the traditional costumes of the local Mong people at the market; the men wear long black dresses while the women dress in their best, most colouful costumes and their children run alongside them. There are food shops selling traditional Thang co (stewed meat soup) and fragrant maize wine near the area reserved for selling cattle. Most Mong men insist on sampling the wine before leaving at the end of the day.
Many people do not actually sell their cows, dogs or pigs at the market; they just bring them there for show. However, there is a lot of livestock for sale, sometimes whole herds of up to a thousand cattle. The cows stand patiently side by side, waiting to be sold to people from lowland areas, sometimes as far away as Vinh Phuc, Ninh Binh or Nam Dinh provinces. The Mong people are well-known for taking very good care of their cattle. The winters on the karst plateau are very cold and there is often hoarfrost, but they still manage to raise many strong, healthy cows. The average cow sells for about VND 5-8 million, while the larger ones may fetch as much as VND20 million. For an ethnic family, a cow is truly a great asset. After selling a cow, the owner can often be seen checking his cash carefully and counting it with pride, yet he is always ready to spend some of his hard earned money on a bowl of Thang co soup and a few cups of maize wine as a reward for raising such a good animal.
There is a very interesting share from an Italian – Marco: “The most important thing about this market is the selling of the animals: the cows, the goats and the chicken. Very interesting. In Italy, we don’t have this kind of market. You can’t buy cows or chicken on the street. This is very special, very traditional and I love it.” Are you eager to explore its specialties yourself? Or you just want to see more about Ha Giang Markets? Follow our Ha Giang Markets catalogue to be satisfied. Vietnam Typical Tours hope you will be interested in something.