Monday, May 21, 2012

Rice Terraces of Sapa, Vietnam

Emerald green rice terraces shimmered in the distance, as water buffaloes ploughed through the soggy field. In the backdrop, the towering Hoang Lien Son mountain range lay shrouded in mist while clusters of bamboo huts sprawled across its foothills. It had rained the day before and now the poetic landscape seemed even more beautiful than ever. We had left the town of Sapa in Lao Cai province that morning and within a few miles of walk, we were trekking through winding valleys and steep slopes. This is one of the last frontiers of Vietnam, far out in the northern reaches close to the Chinese border.

I had long heard about the beautiful countryscape and the Hmong ethnic groups who inhabit this region — and it didn’t disappoint. While this trail is clearly well-trodden (as with most parts of Vietnam), it didn’t fail to impress – we experienced Vietnam’s backcountry, stayed in a local’s home, and met plenty of Hmong people (who all offered a helping hand during the challenging trek).  Here are some of our photos from Sapa, hope they’ll give you a good glimpse of Northern Vietnam.

Making our way into the remote villages of Lao Cai

A Hmong girl with a baby on her back. Hmong girls tend to marry very young, around the age of 14 or 15.

Water buffalos are used to plough through the rice fields.

Beautiful rice paddies shimmer under the sunshine.

A Hmong lady weaving on the streets. Many of these ladies make a living from selling handicraft to tourists.

A group of Red Hmong ladies gathering for their market day.

Trekking through bamboo forests, we slipped and slided along the muddy paths.

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