Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam in watering season

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam is picturesque as a painting during the watering season: At about 300 km from Hanoi, Mu Cang Chai is no longer strange to tourists. The steep road 32 bends along each side of the mountain to take you through many beautiful landscapes in the Northwest of Vietnam.

Most visitors come to Mu Cang Chai during the season of ripe rice in October. Each terraced rice field explodes the golden yellow color of prosperity on the mountains. The masterpieces of local people being exposed surprise all travelers. But few travelers know that there is another time: it's April and May - The season of watering...

Mu Cang Chai

To go hunting for pictures of Mu Cang Chai, we quietly left Hanoi early in the morning when the sky was still falling asleep. We took the direction and crossed the Trung Ha Bridge. Arriving at the land of Thanh Son, I could smell tea in the morning air. Thanh Son (Phu Tho) has many green tea hills. Route 32 crossing the tea fields during the harvest has created another atmosphere for our group. The space was covered by the green color of the forests except the path which was gray. We were not in a hurry. We slowly plunged into the scene and were surprised when we saw the Deo Khe pass, one of the most "dangerous" passages to go to Mu Cang Chai. Now the road has been paved, meandering around the cliffs. Perhaps, with the Vietnam motorbike travel, riding on the passes is one of the strongest moments.

Mu Cang Chai in watering season

After passing the pass of Deo Khe, then the Bo Hon pass, we arrived at Tu Le. This is usually stopping most of many groups because food is delicious. In addition, there are many places to take pictures. Tu Le rice is a typical example. This variety of rice can only be planted here, only on terraced fields that have only one harvest per year. When cooked, it is very sweet and fragrant. Tu Le glutinous rice is a specialty of Mu Cang Chai.

Tu Le is also known by a source of hot water. Local girls and boys bathe here. We do not know what belongs to the real world. There remains only a small whisper and the sound of the conversation. From this stream, how many girls have found the boy of life? We do not know. I also tried to ignore this world to plunge myself into the flow. Unfortunately, I did not find my girlfriend, but after swimming, I felt an extraordinary energy and the fatigue of the pilgrimage to Mu Cang Chai disappeared...

Mu Cang Chai

Tu Le is also the starting point of the spectacular Khau Phau pass. Meaning "Horn of the Sky", Khau Pha is one of the four highest passes in the country. After Khau Pha, it is the city of Mu Cang Chai.

The Hmong people used this image to describe Khau Phạ as "a horn pointing to the blue sky" also indicating difficulties. The pass is about 20 km long. During the year, the pass is covered by clouds. Only on sunny days, standing on the pass, you can see the bottom of the valley in endless green... Fortunately for us, that day was very sunny. White clouds floated at the top of the pass without creating fog. Therefore, our group could admire the entire valley of Cao Pha above...

The valleys at Mu Cang Chai resemble an unfinished design: the yellow spots, the green spot...are in disorder. The green spots are the nurseries of the young rice plants while the yellow spots are the dry fields that are waiting for the water. This is not enough. The painting is not finished. Nature and people here mix colors to make the picture of the wonderful season of watering at Mu Cang Chai....

Mu Cang Chai

In February, when the spring rain falls, it is also the beginning of the water. Terraces help maximize water retention. Each small source of water begins from the highest plots, overflowing towards the lower fields, down to the lowest terraces...

During the three months, from February to May, the terraced rice fields at Mu Cang Chai are waiting for water. When there is water, we begin to plow, harrow, sow and transplant. Therefore, the May is the main time of transplanting to have the rice harvest in October...

Mu Cang Chai

I had already seen the season of ripe rice. Now I had the chance to admire the dream season of transplanting. It is difficult to describe the sensation as well the landscapes...

At that time, the rice fields were like the mirror where the blue sky was reflected. The seedlings were green between the gray lands where there was a group of girls from the Hmong people in colorful robes leaning down to transplant while men were plowing, harrowing... The children were following their parents, some were babysitting, others were carrying young rice plants, picking red flowers signaling the end of winter in Mu Cang Chai…

The yellow color of the earth, the white color of the water, the blue of the seedlings, the red of the kapok trees, the silver color of the stream flowing through the valley and innumerable colors of the dresses, the hard work... create the spring on the mountains of Mu Cang Chai...

Although we did not want to leave this colorful painting, we had to leave. The Khau Phau Pass has been progressively conquered. Along the road to the city of Mu Cang Chai, there are terraced rice fields stretching from the mountain to the creek in an endless way... I admire the small hands of the people here, many generations, they created these splendid terraced rice fields...

We were not in a hurry. We made a detour to Pan Tan, a commune of Mu Cang Chai. The path was concreted but the slopes still seemed to reach 20% with many hard turns. But, arriving there, the landscapes made us forget all the fatigues.

The rice terraces come out of distant mountains. Small houses dominate on soft green seedlings. The little road was like a ribbon falling skillfully from the sky...

Mu Cang Chai

The La Pan Tan is like a high light surrounded by terraced rice fields. From a distance, there are primitive forests. We followed the small road to the village of Ta Chi Lu before descending to a junction near the town of Mu Cang Chai. The road, the path to go to the fields of the local populations, was extremely dangerous, slippery... After each turn, the landscapes were changed. At the end of the day, we arrived at the city of Mu Cang Chai...

In telling the story of the past, I tried to use the most beautiful words to describe the beauty of Mu Cang Chai but it seems that the most beautiful words cannot represent the charm of the region where the terraced fields become "a specialty". All the words have lost meaning...The pure night brought us to sleep to prepare another day with new discoveries in Mu Cang Chai.