mercredi 27 juin 2012

On tuesday august 9, on the road again, this time towards the north-west mountains near the chinese border. The roads are terrible, full of holes, and the next few days are going to be very bumpy to say the least!!!  First stop in Hoah Binh 82 km from Hanoi, new encounter with ethnic minorities, who still wear their traditional embroidered costumes, which wasn't really the case around Dalat; the question is for how long? Western clothing seams to be the universal norm these days; what a pity. We spent the night In Mai Chau. I'm really keen on minorities, with their customs and traditions so obiously I am going to like this even though at it feels a wee bit touristy at times, but who can blame them. Land of the Thais and multi-colored Muongs, here we come.

Mardi 9 août 2011: en route pour Mai Chau, porte d'entrée du pays Thaï, en passant par Hoa Binh; rencontre avec les peuples Muong et dao.

Rice fields around Mai Chau. I just love that all this lush green!

Mai Chau, dans les rizières.

A village of White Thai. There are 54 ethnic groups and the Thai number over a million people making them the second largest minority in the country. Then there are also the Tay... how do you tell them apart? I don't know.

Mai Chau, village de Thaï blanc.

Traditional folk dances with bowls and chopsticks, fans and all sorts of accessories; nice!

Spectacle de danses traditionnelles.

On wednesday august 10, we entered H'mong territory far from modern civilization. Pleated skirts hung to dry under the roofs which womewhat reminded me of fourth of july decorations in the States!!! These are Blue H'mongs. With, as I already said,  54 ethnic tribes around here, you've got to be real precise when it comes to color, and it has nothing to do with discrimination but tribal identity!

 Mercredi 10 août 2011: route de montagne qui surplombe la rivière Noire et traverse le territoire h'mong. Village de H'mong Bleu.

Here are Black Thais, no, not tuxedos!!! And as you can see, we are in the mountains. The people who are walking in line on the road with what looks like white towels on their heads are attending a funeral. In many asian countries white is the color for mourning; they must be horrified when they a bride here, all dressed in white!!!

Thaïs Noirs, enterrement sur la route et peuple H'mong.

If these people weren't around, I would have sworn we were in Switzerland! Perhaps the cow is a tourist from Geneva?

Nearing the famous Dien Bien Phu valley, a sad chapter of french history. A real slap in the face episode but probably well deservedi

Passage des cols Pha Din et de Tuan Giao avant d'atteindre la vallée de Dien Bien Phu.

Another Black Thai village, and I promise not to pull that silly joke again, once is enough!  The women here wear their long hair in a high rise bun; they usually pin an old french indochina silver coin, a relica of the good old days, and so very chic! You should see them put their mandatory helmet on top when riding a motor bike; I really don't think it protects them if necessary, but the law is the law, and they all must wear one. Tje law doesn't precise that it should fit tightly or even be sturdy to be efficient!

Village de Thaïs Noirs juste avant d'arriver à Dien Bien Phu.

Time to go home little fellows! This woman in the rice fields who is looking for her little ducklings, is also very elegant in what looks to me is a long formal evening dress!!! I think its just her working clothes!

On thursday august 11, we visited Dien Bien Phu. No doubtedly, every little school children in France have read and heard of the battle that took place here, a key moment in the Indochina war, which took place between the 13th of march and the 7th of may 1954.It is after this defeat that the french left for good. The Geneva agreements brought an end to the first Indochina war in 1954, after which Vietnam was seperated into two camps north and south. Museum, cemetary, remnants of the old battle field, and the general headquarters and bunker of General de Castries. I suppose the big teck trees around, were witnesses of this sad page of history.

Jeudi 11 août 2011: musée, cimetière, vestiges de l'ancien champ de bataille de Dien Bien Phu; arbres de teck et PC du général de Castries.

Again a village of black Thai... and everyone, parents, kids, pigs live happily together! Not exactly our conception of western hygiene!!!

Village de Thaïs Noirs.

Arrival in Sin Ho, and as the song goes "to market, to market, to buy a fat pig!" Now here are some other hill tribes: Red H'mongs and Black Daos. Dig those great big turbans! Even in India they don't get this big! Wow!

Arrivée à Sin Ho, marché avec des H'mongs Rouges et Daos Noirs.

The hotel (bottom right picture) was a bit rustic to say the least! and the beds were as hard as rock!!! Not great for sleeping! So what? A little stiff in the morning after a sleepless night? It's part of the fun! Well at least we didn't see a single western tourist here in this far remote place! 

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