Day 18 – Monday 11th January – Hanoi to Mai Chau

We left our hotel at 8.30am and drove out of Hanoi through the rush hour traffic. There was quite a lot of smog in the air as we left the city.

The further away we got, the more the scenery changed and soon we were headed upwards into the hills. The scenery was tall hills, covered in lush green forests. We stopped after about an hour and a half for a break and a Vietnamese coffee… Hot this time with condensed milk!  It’s actually better than the ‘western’ coffee with milk that they try to serve! 

After a further hour we stopped briefly at a roadside village where every house seemed to be selling fresh oranges. Phuong bought some and we all had a sample. The oranges were really juicy!.

We moved on and had a quick stop at a roadside market with the locals selling rice cooked in bamboo and plants, including orchids!  The views of the countryside around were great. It’s scenery which I’ve never seen before, with tall rocky outcrops rising from the valley floor!

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We arrived at Pam Cooney, which is the home stay that we’re staying at. It’s an idyllic place, set amongst the rice paddies and is in the local style with houses on stilts. We’re in a shared dorm on the first floor.

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As it was 1 pm, lunch was ready and we dined below the house on soup, pork spring rolls, deep fried chicken, salad, rice and chips! 

The afternoon was spent simply relaxing at the home stay before we met back up with Phuong for an orientation walk at 4.30pm. We walked through the village and on into some paddy fields. The village seems to have a decent sideline in homestays and there were lots of houses advertising rooms.

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The views around were amazing and when the sun started to set, the colours on the hills were lovely.

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We carried on around there village and the standard of housing looked to be good.. These men were shaping bamboo into floor boards, like the ones in our dorm.

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Finally, we headed back towards the village and wandered around the centre where many of the houses/homestays have also been converted to shops selling the usual ethnic stuff.

Before returning to the home stay we stopped at the sunset bar, also a boutique hotel, and had a beer with some amazing views..

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After food, we went ‘next door’ for a local music and dance show. The women’s dresses were immaculate and it finished with a sort of okey cokey with audience participation and a rendition of Frere Jacques!

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Travelling definitely seems to tire everyone out and we were all in the dorm by 9.30! 

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