For guests staying at Topas Riverside Lodge in Nam Cang there are a range of interesting local activities to explore centred around the local Red Dao and Black H’mong people, providing a fascinating opportunity to learn more about the unique cultures and way of life of these minority groups.
Wander slowly around the small quiet village of Nam Cang with a local guide to observe life in the mountains. Here, women can be seen sitting on their doorsteps weaving handicrafts in a pattern, colour and style particular to their ethnic group. There is a small school for the local children to attend, who outside school hours may be seen playing outside in the village.
With a relatively small number of tourists visiting the village, many of the local people are unfamiliar with foreigners and are happy to explain more about their daily life, perhaps inviting you into their home for a cup of local tea.
During your walk you will pass two local silversmiths, whose families have specialised in making handcrafted silver jewellery for generations. Here you can observe the process of crafting the splendid local silver jewellery by hand. The earrings, necklaces and bracelets are beautiful and can be purchased as souvenirs or gifts for your family and friends back home.
Within Nam Cang village is a miller, a butcher and many small household farms. If the traditional medicine man is at home you can spend an interesting hour or so learning about traditional natural medicines used in the Red Dao and Black Hmong cultures.
Rice planting and harvesting
Rice is the most important staple in Nam Cang, grown on beautiful rice terraces which carpet the area in bright yellow-green just prior to the annual harvest. Staying at Topas Riverside Lodge, you have the chance to participate in real village work, joining the locals on their rice paddy walks and taking part in planting and harvesting lessons. Expect to encounter mud, laughter and local people who will most likely enjoy your company!
Please note: The rice planting season is from the end of April to May and the harvest season is from the end of August to September.
Homemade bamboo paper
In Nam Cang a local family have been making traditional bamboo paper produced in a unique way for generations. First, bamboo from the nearby forest is cut into small rectangular strips, before being cooked with lime leaves and left to soak. After drying in the sun, the mass is pounded to a powder, mixed with glue and stretched to form a fabric. Finally, the green or yellow mass is once again dried in the sun, after several hours becoming beautiful bamboo paper. In the past, the bamboo paper was used at the local school, but now it is reserved for traditional writing and religious ceremonies.
Visitors will have the chance to make their own bamboo paper and can request to have a personal note written in Red Dao language.
A local farmer can take guests for a walk into the forest next to the village. Here you can learn how to identify the plants used in traditional and healing medicine and select the healthy leaves to use. Wood is an important energy source for the local community and the farmer will explain how the forest has changed in just forty years from thick jungle inhabited by tigers into light forest and bamboo forest. In the right season, you can see the economically important custom of cardamom growing.