The Black HMong and Red Dzao people

The Black HMong and Red Dzao people
 Lào Cai, Vietnam

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.

 

A day in this very special place called Sapa

 

A day in this very special place called Sapa
Sa Pa, Vietnam

Sa Pa, Vietnam


The train delivered us this morning in a small town named Lao Cai. Most of us slept a total of 2 hours, but the adrenaline of seeing this area kept us moving. Our small bus took us up through the clouds on windy road to an altitude of 4500 feet; that is where our Victoria lodge is located with a view of the Ssoa village. We had a very deserved delicious breakfast so we could have the energy to walk 4 to 5 km in the mountainous rice fields We started our trek very early; dressed in our colorful ponchos as it was pouring and foggy. We could still see the majestic beauty of these very layered rice paddies. It is now harvest season which last one month. There is no irrigation, so Mother Nature does all the work in it’s magnificence, and the process is returned back to earth. We met the Hmong people; originally from Tibet and northern China. It’s a tight knit community of people who live and work together. Almost no one goes to college, but they are very happy and family is what matters. We walked through the windy pathway in the fields, visited a farming family, walking with water Buffaloes while the farmers were harvesting. Quite a sight!. They definitely don’t live like we do! We had lunch at the bottom on the rice fields in a very very local restaurant. The food was also very local; chicken, venison, fish and duck with sticky rice all from their farm or the Red river running through this valley. Then we were presented with a entertainment dancing show with young women from the village. It was no Vegas but it was so sweet! All of us even participated, Just like when we were children. We came back to the hotel in the early afternoon. It was raining so hard but a few of us decided to go shopping in town for anything with handmade quilting from the Hmong people. I talked to a 21 year Hmong woman, already with child( she spoke Perfect English since she had been a Sapa guide) She walked up the hill (8 km) everyday with her 3 month old baby on her back to go sell her own quilted clothing. She was grateful to do it.. That’s why everyone is thin here! They eat simple food, walk a lot and have great attitude. I walked back to the hotel uphill like a Hmong and fell asleep so early in our beautiful Victoria lodge.

 

Visit to Chula fashion

Visit to Chula fashion
Tây Hồ, Vietnam

Tây Hồ, Vietnam


Our first stop today was an exquisite designer shop named Chula Fashion. The designers are so creative. We all bought some very intricately handmade embroidered colorful garments for a very inexpensive price. They are originally form Spain and chose to establish their thriving business in old Hanoi.they have a staff of Vietnamese which produces all their embroidery by hand, very impressive. We proceeded to a packed interior swap meet in old Hanoi; a bit too crowded and smelly for my taste! But we certainly made up for it by having a great lunch overlooking the Hoàn Kiếm Lake., where we had some very authentic Vietnamese dishes like Chả cá which is a tumeric dipped white fish served with rice noodles and topped with spices and herbs; delicious. We ended our day walking to Giang 39 to get a jolt of their famous egg yolk coffee. After a massage and a shower we were picked up to catch our night train called the Victoria express. The rooms and bed are quite small but beautiful for a train. All 12 of us hung out in the quaint dining car until bedtime.

An afternoon with my tour guide

An afternoon with my tour guide
Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam


I spent the afternoon with my tour guide Twain, touring Hanoi. He possesses a masters in tourism and ethics minority’s studies as well as a doctorate in history. I think I’m in good hands! Our first stop was the Ho Chi Minh compound

where he worked for many years but being that he was a humble man, he could only live in the main house for less than 2 years, then he moved to a small pillared house on the same property. He was the father of North Vietnam’s independence and quite revered by all the people Vietnam. Our next stop was Confucius Temple,

which Was erected one thousand years ago and educated many people in its philosophy. The sign you see in front of it means ” get off your horse”! In reverence to the temple, you could only walk in front of this beautiful structure, back in the day! Our next destination was Maison Centrale, dubbed Hanoi Hilton as it held a lot of American prisoners during the war such as John McCain. It was chilling to see as you could feel the severe subhuman conditions. We proceeded to Hoàn Kiếm Lake and walked on the wooden red bridge separating one of the many lakes in Hanoi! Walking and crossing the streets of old Hanoi is a bit scary with the zillion scooters coming at you. The buildings are multi use and quite narrow . Finally, we ended our tour with An egg coffee (cà phê trứng) is a Vietnamese drink which is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, , it is so delicious that I will surely prepare at home!

 

Rosh Hashanah year 5776!

Rosh Hashanah year 5776!
Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA


What a way to start the New Year! After attending a wonderful service with my daughter Alixandra, We are embarking on an adventure in Indochine; that is 12 of us, 2 Americans ( including moi) and 10 from Mexico. We are now leaving on China Air! Until tomorrow….

 

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