The Mai Chau village is situated in a valley surrounded by rich green hillsides, picturesque by any measure. This is one of the biggest rice-producing regions in northwest Vietnam with acres and acres of rice paddies. During our visit, rice had been recently harvested; the fields were being cleared and prepared for the next crop. Vietnam is one of the world’s major rice producers, making it an important crop for the food supply and the national economy. Our biking though the valley and Mai Chau was spectacular, but the real treat was our homestay in the village.
Our homestay was kind of like staying in a bed and breakfast- village style. The people of Mai Chau are predominately Thái, an ethnic minority in Laos and northwest Vietnam (distinguished from people of Thailand). Their dress, language, and writing system are differ from Vietnam, and they practice spirit worship rather then Buddhism.
The Thái live in stilt houses with a single room for sleeping upstairs and an eating area below that is open to the outside. Chickens, livestock, and gardens are kept are immediately adjacent. The houses are wood with bamboo strips for floor upstairs. Sturdy, but essentially open to the outdoors.
Our group slept together on floor mats, each with its own mosquito net. No need for mosquito protection, though, as temperatures dropped to 45 degrees during the night. The thick covers kept us snug, but it felt like a long walk downstairs and behind the house to the bathrooms!
The owner was welcoming and prepared a lovely dinner and breakfast for us. We brought a jar or orange marmalade from the tree in our front yard to share with her which she seemed to appreciate.
The photos below barely capture this unique experience. Very special part of this trip.
In the evening, we and another group of travelers were treated to a performance by Thái singers, dancers and musicians.