Mai Chau

Saturday, June 30, 2012

We have a two-day tour organized to go stay in a White-Thai village.  Our guide, Tao, is a 24-year old Vietnamese who answers every single one of ‘our’ questions from rice-growing*, to contemporary culture to history, he knew the answers.  

It’s about a three-hour drive and once we are past the city and first levels of subdivisions it turns into a beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys.

We arrive in the village which is full of houses on stilts/posts and are taken to our home-stay.  It’s a beautiful space, wood floors covered in carpets, over looking the rice fields.    After a lunch of traditional** Vietnamese food and a shot of rice wine which Kate, Kit and I, mom can’t handle it we all throw back, we take a bike ride*** through several villages (they are ten feet apart).    (Kit, Tao, Mom, Kate).

We continue looping through the beautiful villages where humans and animals appear to exist harmoniously (seriously, no loud noises and dogs don’t bark, cows come home on their own – Garrison Keillorr would be proud). 

Each of the houses has a loom under the house where the women weave beautiful fabrics with traditional fabrics.  After dinner that night we watch some traditional dancing which include us in the performance and ends with the traditional drink of fermented rice wine where everyone drinks from a long straw****.  

*In case you are wondering…you save the best grains, plant them in a small area that can be kept warm if it’s ‘winter,’ and when there are five (five, yes, five) taller leaves plant each one, by hand, individually in the field.

**Our hosts made beautiful food for each of our meals, and while it’s supposedly traditional, I’m fairly certain they pull out all the stops, serving very special dishes.  Most of us aren’t a huge fan of fish oil and so many dishes in this part of the world are made with this.

***My mom rides bike religiously – she’s ridden across the states (all of them) many times so when we hear that we have a bike ride planned I’m concerned.  This bike ride turns out to be less than a kilometer and we stop EVERY 20 feet (so mom can ask more questions about rice-growing).  He tells us to go rest after this ‘strenuous’ bike ride.

**** ‘someone’ says she ‘Sucked very hard but nothing came out.’ – WHAT???



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