The diary of a Mai Chau backpacker
Today my best friend and I set off on a journey to the stunning Mai Chau, the drive was beautiful and full of everlasting greenery! We were greeted by our lovely Vietnamese hosts and they showed us around the gorgeous yet traditional homestay. We then had a few beers and played cards while we waited for Mrs Tan to bring out our much-anticipated lunch! We all dug into a delicious feast of various authentic local dishes - delicious! After filling ourselves to the brim, we had a lay down on the hammocks overlooking to rice paddy fields, it felt so nice to escape the city and take in the fresh air, and to top it off we were lucky enough to have the company of a tiny canine friend by the name of Mimi. Soon after a nap to refresh, we set off on a bicycle tour with our Vietnamese tour guide, Ben. We cycled through paddy fields, villages and local markets. Lucky for my fitness level the bike ride was easy, relaxed and very enjoyable! We then made our way back to the homestay to shower and socialise with the others while waiting for dinner. The food here is incredible and we just can’t stop eating! After dinner, the locals asked us to join the table with them and have ‘friendship’ shots of rice wine (you get invited to share a one on one shot with each person and then shake hands to seal the new friendship) We then watched the local dancers perform and it was one of the most graceful things I had seen! They incorporated daily things like harvesting rice and cooking dinner into an artistic display of rhythm and dance. Then we all jumped up, fueled by rice wine, to join in on the dancing. Our first day in Mai Chau was an absolute blast and definitely exceeded my expectations, to say the least! Time to go and join the others for a few beers before bed.
I woke up this morning after sleeping like a log, and headed downstairs to have some breakfast. Out comes the Pho I ordered - potentially the best Pho I've had in Vietnam. After breakfast, we loaded ourselves into the van for a scenic drive to the jungle where we would be embarking on our trek. We started our trek up into the rice paddy fields overlooking picturesque terraces and limestone mountains. We took a lot of photos but they just didn't do it justice! We stopped at a homestay for yet another feast of local cuisine! Our knowledgable tour guide provided us with interesting facts about the Thai tribes and the history behind the land. Once again - out comes the rice wine and next thing you know we're all doing shots over the lunch table with the locals (highlight of my day). We then left the homestay to go and visit the bamboo factory. The bamboo factory is INSANE! The Vietnamese work so quickly and efficiently, Its a wonder they don't chop their fingers off! We definitely all have a new found appreciation for chopsticks!! Our awesome tour guide Ben then took us to his house to see his newborn puppies, meet his family and drink some tea. It was so lovely and Ben really knows how to show us a good time. He even said to us "you guys are not customers, you're my friends". We then went back to the homestay and had a few beers in the hammock while the sun was setting, welcome to the good life! Another feast was prepared and once dinner was finished - "surprise surprise"- out comes the rice wine!! We spent the evening playing cards with our group and enjoying the peace and quiet of being in the countryside.
After a few too many rice wine shots last night, my head is hurting a bit - nothing a delicious bowl of pho won't fix! Ben came and met us at the homestay and gave us a quick crash course on riding a motorbike. We then all set off, riding through limestone mountains taking in views that you'll have to see to believe. We arrived at the lake and boarded a boat which would take us to the middle of the lake. The scenery was incredible, It was so peaceful. We all jumped off the top off the boat and swam around in the beautiful warm water - need I mention there was not a cloud in the sky, the day couldn't have been better. We all then sunbathed at the front of the boat while we were taken back to our bikes. We stopped by an epic waterfall to take some pics and reflected on what an awesome 3 days we've had. Back to the homestay for our last meal and of course a couple of beers with our group who are now friends for life! I absolutely adored my 3 days in Mai Chau! It was the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation and I'm already itching to go back! The family that run the homestay are some of the most generous and caring people I have encountered and they really put their heart and soul into ensuring everyone had a great time!
I'll be back Mai Chau!