Two weeks already in Vietnam! Yes, we were amazed by the beautiful landscapes from South Vietnam with the Mekong Delta and its canals, the sunny beaches and turquoise waters from East Vietnam, welcoming people all around. All this till yesterday when we went for a trip in the mountains: in Pu Luong province and we went speechless. My words are too poor to describe the landscapes and the shades of green, yellow butterflies, waterfalls and the shaded paths up in the mountain…and the PEOPLE!
We were really lucky because when we entered the city Ninh Binh, Mr. Xuan, our tour guide and our host met us and took us in his hotel. From there to go for trip wasn’t a long way. Some Spanish tourists that just came back from the trip, the reviews and the map definitely convinced us that we should go. And we went. I don’t regret that, even the trip was a bit spicy for our budget, we overspend our budget but worth it – million times worth it!
I don’t know with what I should start, I’m afraid that I will be redundant. To arrive at one of the destination took us 3 hours and a half. In the way we stopped for lunch-a delicious meal with rice, meat, eggs, vegetables and tofu. In the way we stopped for different spots where to take pictures and enjoy the nature. Initial plan was to walk more but because was so hot (more than 38 degrees) and very humid we went by car in a Hmong village (Vietnam has 54 minorities) and then we visited different families. We saw how people live, what do they eat, what is their daily routine or let’s put it simply: how is life in a village (of a certain minority). It was so interesting to see how people are keeping their supplies of rice in the ceiling. Every time when they need it just take it and separate the rice of the straws, peels it in a special machine, winds the dust and then cook it.
The houses are from wood with bamboo roof and underneath, people are keeping the animals: buffalos, caws, chickens, ducks, goats, dogs etc. Usually, in Vietnam the families have 1-2 children in the city area and in the countryside 3-4 children or even more. After they get married the young couple stays with the parents (in some minorities with the girl parents and in others with boy’s parents).
In the villages, people are eating mostly rice and vegetable because they can’t afford all the time to buy meet. Those who are growing animals around the house eat the meat from their own animals. If the family doesn’t have a fridge and if they cut big caws or pigs they will sell a part from the meat (it’s almost impossible to keep it all because of weather conditions). Almost everyone has a piece of land where they will grow mostly rice or peanuts, manioc or other vegetable. No matter how far or high up in the mountain they live, people have a motorbike. It’s a very easy way to reach the city or a bigger village down the mountain.
In Laos or Cambodia people in the countryside have a tak-tak to work their land; in Vietnam all the families have a buffalo or a caw to help them work their rice fields.
The minimum salary in Vietnam is around 100-120 USD and the medium salary is 150 USD but sometimes it can be much higher, depending of the work and kind of job. In the villages people are living mostly from farming or trading crops and hunting.
We stayed overnight in a Tay minority village (not Thai from Thailand- but is the name of the Vietnamese minority) in a family with 5 members: the mother of the boy, the young couple and their two daughters (the youngest one only two weeks old). The house was from wood with bamboo roof consisting from two rooms: a very large room where the family had a TV, a place for fire (used to boil tea and water) and a second room that was the kitchen (with a fridge and a stove) where they are preparing the food. I don’t know the names of the food that the family cooked for us but I know for sure that was delicious.
To reach the house where we slept we walk for at least five km up the mountain passing through different villages, speaking and greeting the locals. Our guide is a very sociable person and he knows almost everyone on the route so we stopped at a family to drink some tea and have a rest. Before reaching our final destination we went in a waterfall to cool down after walking through the sun for quite a time.
Second day we started very early in the morning, personally I woke up at 6.10 am and went for a short walk through the rice fields and streams to feel the freshness of the mountain. The house was situated at 800-900 m altitude. From there we could see the rice fields tiered down the mountain. My eyes couldn’t believe how beautiful is the panorama, all that green and its shades with trees, flowers and yellow butterflies.
For lunch we went for other family, actually only the brothers because the parents died few years ago. The boy and the girl cooked for us and we ate together. They cut a rooster and prepared it with pumpkin. Before lunch we went for other trip down and up the mountain through the rice fields, stopping at different families, visiting their houses and drinking green tea.
We found out about the weeding traditions and funeral traditions. The weeding party in Vietnam is at least for two days but if the family is rich can last for longer. Again, depends how wealthy is the family – they will go for a restaurant or they will make the party at home. At the funerals, the deceased is kept in the house for two days and then buried in a cemetery or if is a village in the mountain they will be buried in the back garden. The defunct family will prepare food and give it for the people that came from far away for the funerals.
I’m afraid that because of so many details the reader will get bored so I better stop here. The general idea is that Vietnam is breathtaking and we didn’t reach yet Sa Pa, again one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam and in the world. The trip and our tour guide was as a cherry in the top of a cake (the cake was very delicious but we couldn’t feel the taste entirely – beautiful places in South Vietnam but many buses and very long distances).
Those two days I felt blessed that I’m one in few billions on this amazing planet: EARTH! (let’s cherish it!!!)
Discover the stories of our students
One World Institute