After weeks in Hanoi, we were ready for peace and pure air somewhere close. In such a beautiful country we just had to decide which way to go. Soon the debate started and we got particularly happy about the suggestion our local friend made. From his mouth, Mai Chau sounded magical and we couldn’t wait to get there. About a three-hour drive went by very quickly and for the most part, we felt like we were still in the city.
Thung Khe Mountain Pass
The road led us across many villages even though there was no end to the long line of houses. Only the state of the marketplaces indicated we were moving further away from the Vietnamese capital. The concrete jungle changed suddenly to a green one when we reached the Thung Khe Mountain pass. Such a wonderful view glued us to the windows in an attempt to see more. Indeed, we did see more, although not what we wanted. It was a terrible accident! It looked like the lorry was overloaded with the orange bricks and in one big turn the weight turned it around. As if that wasn’t enough the heavy load fell directly on a biker, he was dead on the site. What terrible bad luck for the poor fella!
Mai Chau Valley
Twilight was setting on the Mai Chau valley when we got off the bus. Finally, some peace but no fresh air. Air was full of harmful smoke coming from burning piles of trash. Looks like there is no escaping the trash trouble. At the end of the day, whatever goods one buys all come with a package. Strangely enough, smoke fired up our empty tummies and pointed us to the first place where we were able to get some food. Once we finished our dinner the calm valley turned out to be buzzing. All of a sudden everyone was moving in the direction of our homestay. As it turned out the primary school organized a week in Mai Chau for the youngest students. And who would think that kids like to party? Every night from dusk to 10 pm little dancers were jumping to the rhythms of the Vina-House.
Vietnamese Rural Life
So much for slow life in a country when locals were long working in the field before we finished our breakfast. Sure, it is slow for some but certainly not for everybody. However, time didn’t stop even for us. We were feasting our eyes with stunning views all around us. In the soft morning light, the lush green mountains around the Mai Chau valley looked particularly gorgeous. Just like that, hours passed and our host was back from the market. She brought back everything she needed for the big family dinner. To be part of a homestay is a special experience and not just because of the homecooked meal. One day you are a stranger and the next you are the beloved neighbor everyone likes to see.
One hot day we were cycling around the Mai Chau valley and found refuge under a tree. We decided to rest in the shade while the sun was high in the sky. Just when the book got interesting the old woman came to the tree. Quickly we were ready to go somewhere else if we caused any trouble. Little did we know this kind of old lady came to chill in the shade just like us. Soon the conversation started and hands helped us to better understand each other. After some laughter, she pulled a large pomelo fruit out of nowhere and generously shared it with us. Each got a piece and she laughed from her heart when she saw how much we loved this juicy and very refreshing tasty fruit. Honestly, it was the best pomelo we have ever eaten and the timing couldn’t be better. God bless her!
Off We Go
Cycling was delightful only in the flat area of the Mai Chau valley. Even though the area isn’t enormous we enjoyed every part of it, especially the flowers and colorful butterflies. However, when we were ready for more we hopped on a scooter, and off we went. For a while, we followed the map to get to the ethnic minority villages. Up there the view was even more spectacular and pristine. Right around the corner, we saw people wearing colorful traditional clothing even out in the field. Not in rice paddies, though.
Go With Your Gut
For the most part, the road was safe with a little traffic. Only at the top of one area, we had to admit to the lurking danger. It was where large limestone segments were falling from the steep slope. Without any fence or barriers to prevent erosion from reaching the road. Behind one turn so much rock has fallen that it seemed like a gravel route. No matter the time and place, our motto is: “do as you feel”. We passed that section without problems. Well, only the awkward silence was present.
We certainly felt lucky to witness such a beautiful place as Mai Chau. As we know nature is full of beauty, but it is on us how we see it. Obviously, society’s relationship with nature significantly changed in the past 100 years. Nevertheless, humanity still completely depends on nature for survival. How many people care how toxic by-products are affecting life on earth? Surely, we can’t save the world. That is why we embraced the romantic story of rural life in Mai Chau valley. Together with the surrounding mountains we loved it!