Lào Cai, Vietnam
Early in the morning we decided to walk the town and go shopping for silver. We found this shop called Duc Khan silversmith, maybe one of jeff’s ancestors from another life! We all bought something from him, quite inexpensive.
The hotel we are staying at has a huge spa facility at the top of the hill. So Malinda and I walked in the pouring rain for a one hour aromatic massage before our trekking expedition this afternoon. In retrospect, it was a great way to prepare ourselves for the afternoon.
We leave our beautiful hotel and are being driven to Ma Tra village on the valley floor of a very mountainous area.The Black Hmong people also live there. We walk for about one and a half mile in the rain with many children, oxens, ducks and lots of little piggies. We visited a very young Hmong family and their beautiful newborn baby. The limit for having children in Vietnam is 2, and the penalties are costly for them. Some of them practice Buddhism, but most of them just simply have an altar in their home honoring their ancestors, they are very spiritual and believe in animism. The weather was much worse than yesterday. Many people were outside cultivating their gardens but none were picking rice. But many water Buffaloes were working, plowing and turning the soil to prepare for the next crop.
The views were magnificent with many small waterfalls forming streams converging into the river.
We then were driven to another town called Ta Phin about 8 km away where the very colorful Red Dzao people live. As soon as the bus got into town we were surrounded by the Red Dzao women who were carrying either basket with their home made quilted wares or a baby colorfully dressed in their back. All women wear a red handmade hat, hence the name Red. Strangely some of the streets we walked on, were of natural marble. The Red Dzao women are so friendly and most them speak fairly good English and are great conversationalist. Every woman gets married usually from an arranged marriage.
We visited the home of what is considered a rich person’s home, in their world. They had a huge kitchen on dirt with 2 different oven, that means a whole in the dirt with bamboo sticks constantly burning and 3 stones to support the pots, one stove is for people food, the other for animals. They had a huge living room also on dirt with decent furniture. The house is dark inside. The bedroom are upstairs which you get too by climbing a ladder. We’re just talking old mattresses here. Around the house is their farming land. Their only mode of transportation is a scooter. It’s amazing to see what they carry on it!
The community is small and laced through many hamlets. Now that rice season was almost over, you could see the husbands with their children at the snack bars, and the women walking with us and trying to sell their quilt work. It is such a beautiful tight knit culture. It was certainly an experience to step into their different life.
We left late in the afternoon for Lao Cai, where our train will take us to Hanoi. Our guide first took us to a very good Vietnamese dinner in front of the train station. Vietnamese food is very tasty! We then boarded our train. After this day it wasn’t difficult to fall asleep.