Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One-day exploration of ethnic culture

A tourist studies a wooden model of the Central Highlands buffalo sacrificing festival at the Cu Chi Ecological Tourist Site museum.
About 60 kilometers from downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi District is not only a place with heroic traditions but also a scenic site for a relaxing weekend.

As well as the famous underground tunnel network that was a resistance base during the wars against the French and Americans, Cu Chi also offers tourists an insight into ethnic minority cultures.

A 20–hectare green area allows visitors to experience various ethnic minority cultures from the Central Highlands to the northern area through activities such as buffalo coaches, horse– drawn carriage riding and, every Sunday, piglet racing.

Tourists can observe Ede, Thai, Tay, Nung and Muong women making bags, handkerchiefs, clothing and jewelry using brocade weaving techniques. Studious guests will be pleased with the tribal lifestyle displays in the museum, which also exhibits traditional costumes, cultures and tools of different ethnics groups from around Vietnam.

A VND500 million (US$30,000) traditional nha rong (large communal house) is at the heart of Cu Chi Ecological Tourist Site of Ethnic Minorities’ Culture.

At the complex, visitors can taste delectable specialties such as the Churu com lam (rice cooked in young bamboo tubes) with grilled pork and the Ma ethnic group’s ruou can (wine that’s sipped from a ceramic jar through long straw).

The trip would not be complete without learning about some ethnic festivals that involve the merry sound of gongs and music to celebrate “harvesting new rice” or “buffalo sacrificing.”

Adventure-loving visitors can try the game called “Adventure of the ivory bamboo labyrinth” in which participants have to traverse a five-compartment house made from nearly 2,000 ivory bamboo plants.

In downtown HCMC, go along the Cach Mang Thang Tam Street to the Bay Hien Intersection. Go straight through and follow Truong Chinh Street until you get to Highway No.22, turn right and drive 30 km to Cu Chi.

Cu Chi Ecological Tourist Site of Ethnic Minorities’ Culture
Hamlet 4, Nhuan Duc Commune, Cu Chi District, HCMC.
Tel: (08) 792 8922.
Entrance fees: VND20,000 (US$1.20)
Services fee: VND5,000-25,000 ($0.30-$1.50)