A Trek Too Far
Posted Date: 6/25/201310:33 AM
Mai Chau is a tribal area about three hours from Hanoi. The area is beautiful, undeveloped, stunning hill, idealic farmland. The first day we went for two walks, on short one then a longer one that took us to the village we were staying in. Due to a bit of a breakdown of communication with our guide Manh, we thought our stuff was being taken to the village, he thought we had it with us in our day sacks, and it was hot, really, really hot. We both looked like we’d stood under a shower and now had no clean clothes, no soap, nothing
We walked through the hills and the jungle to Te, a White Thai village, along Love Path cut by a love struck local in the Sixties to his girlfriend’s village. The village was pretty large, larger than I expected and full of timber stilt houses. When we got to our house no one was home, there is no means of communicating with the village, the family find out they have guests when they arrive, but it wasn’t long before the family arrived. The house consisted on one large room with a bamboo floor which you could look through to the ground below, with a kitchen behind, the family, mum and dad, son and daughter were lovely, really friendly. The local drunk also turned up, and chatted away to us awaiting an answer that never came, we didn’t have a clue what he was talking about
Dinner was great, a feast with loads of dishes in the centre and us, Manh and the family sat in a circle on the floor. The family were made up when we liked their paddy field snails which were actually really nice, and the father was pleased to have someone to drink his rice wine with. This was good as well, about 30% and quite sweet – the cassava wine that came out when we finished his stock of rice wine wasn’t as good. The mum took a liking to Jo’s Indian silver bangles, used her only English “I like”, and wore one to sleep that night.
Our bed was a mattress on the floor, our pillows these strange small blocks which I didn’t really get to grips with, and we did have a mosquito net around us so almost some privacy, but not enough for Jo to get undress so the clothes from the days trek stayed on. Washing facilities had also been a bit lacking, a communal tank with everyone washing themselves, their clothes and their food, so we went to bed a bit dirty.
We slept really well, worn out from the walking and the rice wine, and only awoke once due to a strange howling. The next morning we found out what the howling was, immediately below where we slept, the families dog had give birth to two pups, and two more came while we were having breakfast.
After we ate and had some more wine we set off, 15km to do in the day on the flat, it sounded fine. The heat was incredible though and much of the walk was in paddy fields or out in the open. It gave you some idea of what the American soldiers in Vietnam would have gone through, we had light packs and nobody trying to kill us but found it bloody hard. Probably 10 km in and we were both done in, the last 5 seemed to last forever, a walk that in England would have been a reasonable distance but not a problem was really hard. By the time we reached the restaurant for lunch we were finished, Jo fell asleep and couldn’t eat (that when I knew something wasn’t right) and we decided we had to quit – air conditioning, hot showers and comfortable beds in Hanoi were calling.
Despite our failure to finish, I would definitely recommend Mai Chau, but maybe when it is a bit cooler.
Source: Joandjim ‘s Blog – TravelPod