The Bao Lac district is located in the far north Cao Bang province of Vietnam. Close to the border with China, this mountainous area is home to 50,000 inhabitants who live mainly in small villages in remote areas without water supply and even electricity. This is the poorest region in Vietnam.
Bao Lac was recently made famous by a French television show about an ethnic minority originated from Yunnan in China: the Lolo. Around 400 years ago, the first Lolo ethnic group arrived in northern Indochina. There are 5000 Lolo people living in Vietnam now and they are divided into 2 groups: colorful Lolo and black Lolo.
Bao Lac district is home to nearly 1000 black Lolos only. They live together in traditional stilt houses set in big green valleys. Their homes also have living space for cattle and poultry, mainly water buffalo, cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, dogs and cats.
Lolo people are skilled at making bronze drum, a treasure of each family only used in funerals. These bronze drums are buried and guarded by the head of the family line. Each Lolo family line has several highly interconnected branches, usually living in the same hamlet. The head of a branch position is always held by a man. He is responsible for the worship of ancestors and maintaining solidarity between its members.
Every Sunday morning, on small roads in these mountainous villages, you will meet groups of Lolo women dressed in their traditional costumes heading to the market. Their clothes are beautiful and colorful like flowers in spring. The fabrics are often brightly colored and adorned with silver jewelry.
Travelling in this area offers you an opportunity to savor fabulous scenery, to discover rare ethnic minorities and maybe to share some hardship and laughter with them.
Bao Lac village, inhabited by Lolo, is 15 km from the Chinese border. It is difficult if not impossible to find the village by yourself without help of a local or a guide. Although the name is shown on maps, no road leading to it is indicated. That is to say how remote it is.
As all other northern regions of Vietnam, Bao Lac also has an interesting ethnic market where you can see local people selling, buying or bartering. Their traditional costumes are quite simple with colorful head scarf.
A Warm Vietnamese Welcome
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