Forgive the silence on the blog, the amount of wonderful exploration we’ve been doing has brought us farther and farther away from wi-fi (which is definitely not a bad thing!)
For the next diary entries, I’m whizzing back in time to some of our adventures in the Vietnamese countryside. From the silence of Mai Chau to the picturesque rushing waterfall in Pu Long, let us set off on the journey.
On June 8th, a sweltering day in Hanoi, we hopped into a van with our bags and set off with our tour guide and our driver. A five-day tour with Handspan (more on that in another post), our journey would end for us in gorgeous Ha Long Bay. First off we made our way to Mai Chau.
Mai Châu is a countryside district in the north-west region of Vietnam, about 160 km from Hanoi. The largest ethnic population in the region are of Thai origin and are known as the “Bac Lac People” (their ancestors settled there many years ago).
Known for its stilt houses, many of the dwellings in the area are made from bamboo and timber that is elevated from the ground (about 10-12 feet) so that they prevent water damage. Underneath, the house also shelters animals from the ever-changing weather.
A house on stilts was to be our lodgings for the night.
When it rains in Vietnam, it doesn’t just rain, it POURS!
Taking a rest from our travels, we plonked down in our homestay and waited for the lashings of rain to pass. The thunder and lightning shook the house, with the clap and belt of the thunder sending shockwaves through the bamboo.
Eventually, when it eased off, we hopped on our bikes armed with our ponchos. Taking a path to the left, it soon became apparent that the mud wasn’t doing our bikes any favours and that we were tremendously stuck.
It started to rain again, and the mud seemed to get stickier as we all got a fit of the giggles. We just had to laugh! How the heck would we get out??? Cut off from most of the locals, we were truly stuck-in-the-mud!
Prying it out of the spokes and wheel with loose bamboo, our guide called up our homestay host who arrived on her bike and sought out a watering can from a neighbour. Our tour guide’s feet ended up caked in so much mud that she had to abandon her shoes!
Freed at last, we cycled to much safer concrete and continued on our way through the rice fields of Mai Chau – a lush, green space that could rival Ireland’s countryside. Peace and quiet away from the beeping horns of Hanoi, it was a welcome contrast despite the rain.
A busy but rewarding day, it’s that rain and ringing sound of our laughter that I’m going to remember in years to come; we just laughed so much.
(Note: this post was written on June 19th but back posted on the blog to reflect the time frame we were in Vietnam. Edit: 6/7/16 I have removed our tour guide and driver’s names for privacy reasons)