Mike and Angie told their travel around Asia. This is the entry about their trekking tour in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, Viet Nam.
It was 5:30 am when the public, loud speaker outside our village homestay burst into life with the voice of a local party official. “Time to rise - it's another fine day. Please make sure the roads are clean and now is a good time to be putting fertilizer on the fields”. Well, that was the translation we were given by Hieu, our Vietnamese tour guide.
Bareback water buffalo riding in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, Vietnam
We were staying with Mrs. Chung in a village just outside of Mai Chau, 150 km west of Hanoi in what is clearly a tourist showcase area.
Fantastic scenery and an apparent idyllic rural life working the land. We were most impressed by the fantastic irrigation system that has been developed over hundreds of years to create acre after acre of paddy fields. We were mainly there for some hill walking between various villages of different ethnic minorities - Hmong, Thai and Muong. One thing we have discovered on our tour in Asia is the abundance of different groups of people and minorities within the various National boundaries. Only 80% of the people in Vietnam are actually Vietnamese. Anyway, the walking was good amongst some fantastic limestone scenery and we got a great insight into rural life in the North of Vietnam although we are not really sure to what extent it is a reflection of the rest of the country.
Either side of the walking we have had a couple of days in Hanoi. Now there’s an experience. The first thing we had to figure out was how on earth to cross the roads. Not many cars, just thousands upon thousands of motor scooters. Everyone seems to have got one. You even see whole families of four or more on one scooter! No pedestrian crossings, few traffic lights and you can forget about the Green Cross code. Look left, look right and left again and cross when the road is clear? No chance of a road containing less than a thousand motorbikes and scooters this side of doomsday.
No, there are three basic rules you need for negotiating Hanoi roads. Rule 1 - Have no fear (as you step out in front of a hundred scooters bearing down on you). Rule 2 - Walk very slowly and don’t run (ever). Rule 3 - Don’t step back. You just have to hope and trust that the scooter drivers are competent enough to avoid hitting you. They do, providing you don’t make any sudden and unexpected move! They also seem to avoid one another.
The other things we have noticed is that lots of French heritage though from the colonial past. Some very distinctive architecture and the best bread we’ve had in three months.
Source: Mike and Angie go Walkabout ‘s Blog – Get Jealous
Recommendation of similar tours and extensions: Mai Chau tour with Pu Luong retreat, extend to Vietnam tours or consider many other activities and ideas for adventure tours in Vietnam