From Lao Cai street, coming along the 4E national road for 50km of terraced field of pineapple and tea and the Hmong, Dao villages in the fog, we reached the ancient town Muong Khuong. Located in the height of 1,500m above the sea level, the ancient town name means pillar standing the sky. It is right in the middle of mountains around like citadel. There are many houses with manger tile with green moss. The living activity is still quiet and secluded, which are clearly imprints the feature of ancient regions called Muong land.
At the end of town, there is a market every weekend. Markets of ethnic people with every kinds of colors from far villages in mountains or along spring. Different types of specialty are brought: black chicken, smoked black pork, soy cud, Coc Ngu corn wine. But a friend of mine who is Pa Di person told me: “If you haven’t taste the Coc Ngu wine in Ma Tuyen grottos, you haven’t come to Muong place. That is the essence of Muong land.”
According to the instruction of that friend, we come to Ma Tuyen grotto in the deep part of Stone Mountain in the beginning of the town. Mr Thang, owner of the grotto lead us with the flashlight. There are lots of stalactites in the grotto and the coldness came out which made us shiver. The owner told us there are about 4,000 liters of wine which is made from the corn, mallet sees and forest leaves glaze by people in Pa Di ethnic group, Coc Ngu cillage, Nam Chay commune, and Nung people of Di Thang hamlet.
All the jar, pot and bottles are made in Thanh Hoa province with the special quality of ceramic which makes the corn wine nicer for being dug in the ground and dispose the chemical of aldehyde. Mr. Thang opened a jar of 200 liters. The oldest wine here is four years old with the price of 80,000 per liter. It is contained in ceramic gourd with nice label and suitable for gift.
According to the Culture – Sport and Tourism Department of Muong Khuong, Ma Tuyen is the caster grotto. In 2008, Deputy Professor Nguyen Lan Cuong and his partners in archeological institute discovered this area with many fossil of ancient animals. Especially, they collected a jaw of sword tooth elephant. After many first steps, some fossils were brought to the Museum of Lao Cai, some are still kept in the grotto. Under the allowance of districts, apart from the preserving, Mr Thang has invested in dredging and making the gate to make the “grotto for wine”.
Spread the nylon mat in the grotto, Mr Thang stood us the pure wine of Coc Ngu with some grilled black pork. The wine is pure like rain water, cool like being frozen with ice, smooth and gentle but not make us drunk.