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Golden rice season in northern Vietnam village Nam Hong

When fall begins towards the end of September and start of October, Nam Hong Village in Ha Giang Province radiates the amber hue of autumn.

Ngày đăng: 17 tháng 3, 2021
Cập nhật: 10 tháng 8, 2022
Lượt xem: 551537
Nguồn: vnexpress

Its sensual curves of staircase rice terraces send visitors into a trance.

Rice terraced fields in Nam Hong Village.Xu Kien's photo.

Propped against the mountain at an altitude of 800 m, Nam Hong Village encompasses 38 red Dao ethnic households.The village is in Thong Nguyen commune, Hoang Su Phi district, located 33 km from National Highway 2 and 77 km from Ha Giang town, the capital of the province of the same name.

A few years ago, people in Nam Hong village mainly relied on agriculture, growing tea and raising fish to survive.Today, Nam Hong community tourism village has become the top attraction of Hoang Su Phi district.

The first evening was memorable, after a hearty dinner with Central Highlands specialties such as mandarin pig, wild chicken, wild vegetables and fragrant corn wine, I participated in the Nam Hong Mid-Autumn Festival.

In the bright campfire light, I couldn't take my eyes off the graceful steps of the Red Dao dancers.After the spiritual ceremony, the Red Dao men barefoot dance on burning coals.

This is a traditional ritual of the Red Dao people taking place on the Lunar New Year to give thanks to the Fire god for warmth, safety, prosperity, bountiful crops, and to drive away demons and diseases.Today, the dance is performed regularly for tourists.That night, I fell into a deep, vibrant sleep.

A barefooted red Dao man danced on burning coal.Xu Kien's photo.

Typically, rice harvesting is divided into four parts: bailing out water and catching fish, reaping, stacking, and threshing.That morning, I got up very early to follow the guide Kinh to the field.

From Bungalow Hoang Su Phi, I hugged a bucket while chasing Kinh up the immense terraced fields.Yellow rice fields with drooping flowers ready to harvest.

Kinh led me to the top of Mong Ngua Hill (Horseshoe Hill), the most beautiful photo spot in Nam Hong.From the top of the hill, white clouds float like foam in a cappuccino, covering each part of the glittering green stairs one after another reaching up to the sky.

The eye-catching setting brings a sense of lightness and peace.I took a deep breath of the pure, fresh air of the Central Highlands.This is a new day.

Kinh's rice field is located near Horseshoe hill.After a short walk we reached the field.First, Kinh and his wife released water and directed the water in their rice field to other people nearby.With a skilled hand, Mr. Kinh discovered and caught big, strong fish that quickly swam around the roots of rice plants and put them in a bucket.

Sunrise in Nam Hong Village.Xu Kien's photo.

To ensure the fish are in the healthiest state when caught, locals release them into paddy fields after sowing at the end of April and beginning of May.In September and October when the rice fields are ripe, the fish reaches full maturity.The locals then caught and brought them home.

Since the fish grow in their natural state, bred without fertilizer and around rice plants, they are organic and fresh.A must-try when coming to Nam Hong is fresh fish caught from rice fields combined with completely clean and safe rice.

Dehydrated fish tend to hang around plant roots and when I put my hand in the water to catch them, their slippery and slimy scales totally annoyed me but I quickly adapted and felt very happy. .

I caught a carp in the palm of my hand, its mouth wide open until I gently dropped it into the bucket.That little fish will be part of our dinner.

Catching fish that stick around the rice plant roots.Xu Kien's photo.

Foreign tourists visiting Nam Hong also excitedly rolled up their sleeves and waded through the field to hunt carp.Excitement and laughter echoed through the fields.

A week has passed since our fishing mission, with the fields now filled with hard-working Nam Hong locals.That morning, I woke up early and joined my sickle in the villagers' harvest.

The way Nam Hong people harvest rice is very unique, cutting off half of the rice stalk instead of cutting from the root, then putting those halves back into the harvested plant.Each harvest, the locals form a "V" shape. with the plant to prevent the flower from falling.Three days later, they returned to the fields to harvest and thresh the dried rice.

We work from hillside to hillside.I worked together with the villagers for a week.They exchanged many stories and chatted while reaping, filling the air with laughter.Needless to say, it was a week to remember.

Among the villagers, an elderly woman was reaping full of energy while gently lulling a child lying on her back to sleep. Seeing my fierce and rapid movements, a red Dao fellow turned to me and jokingly said: "You’re very strong, would you want to marry a red Dao lad and stay here?"

Right then and there, elation rushed through me as I felt like I belonged to this captivating ethnic community, participating in ordinary daily activities that perhaps I would never get a chance to enjoy again.

Local people here do not grow rice in the field.After the crops were dry, they used red cloth to gather them into bouquets and pile them up to be transported to a common slum.The climb from the fields to the slums was difficult because the ground was uneven and the bearer had to lower his head, balance, straighten his legs, and rotate a heavy pile of rice on his back.Beads of sweat quickly settled on the farmers' heads as they staggered forward, familiar perseverance evident on their faces.

Farmers bring rice crops to the communal shanty.Xu Kien's photo.

After successfully transporting the thresher to the communal house, they began the threshing process and collected the final product into sacks.That harvest, Kinh's family collected a total of 20 bags of rice, bringing smiles to everyone.

The Red Dao community has a tradition that whoever harvests that day, the whole village organizes lunch and dinner.So that very evening, all the villagers gathered at the place of the reaper to celebrate and celebrate.

In the afternoon sunlight of the following days, I strolled around the empty fields in my trusty rubber honeycomb sandals and watched the Red Dao people revel in buffalo wrestling matches.

If possible, I love the land and its people more deeply.When the harvest season ended, it was time for me to end my adventure in the Northern highlands and return to Ho Chi Minh City.

If one is passionate about an area, it must be because of the intense love and respect that one has for the people, animals, and landscapes of that area.

Before traveling:

Transportation

Motorbike: Explore the magnificent landscapes of Nam Hong Village on the back of a motorbike for a hands-on, unrefined experience.To save time, you can buy a limousine ticket from Hanoi to Tan Quang junction, Ha Giang province, then rent a bicycle to complete the trip.It should be noted that the route has many dangerous bends.In turn, the sparkling terraces along the road create a breathtaking view.

Limousine bus: Nam Hong is located in the west of Ha Giang.Because this route is less frequented, there are not many shuttles running through the area.If departing from Hanoi, you can refer to Ngoc Cuong, Cau Me, Quang Nghi, Quang Giang, Dang Quang bus services to get to Tan Quang intersection.From here, you can catch the second bus to Nam Hong.This bus is provided by Thong Nguyen bus service, you can contact this number: 0966 212 213.

Accomodation: Nam Hong has a variety of accommodation options.Hoang Su Phi Bungalo boasts seven premium, cozy and air-conditioned cabins.The nightly rate for a two-bedroom and a single room is VND1.15 million ($50) and 980,000 VND ($42) respectively.In addition, you can also choose to stay at a traditional house of the Red Dao people, which can accommodate up to 50 people.Some recommended homestays: Kinh Homestay (0988 070 619), Dao Homestay (0948 052 889), Trieu Ta Quyen Homestay (038 286 6054), Son Pu Homestay and Hao Thu.A night in a shared room costs 100,000 VND.

Motorbike renting: Motorbike renting is available at every homestay.A day of riding a motorbike costs 250,000 VND.If you want someone to drive you, a day costs 500,000 VND.

Food: In Nam Hong, you will have the chance to relish in red Dao specialties like wild boar, prairie chicken, unique vegetables, forest bamboo sprouts, paddy field carp, meat jerky, corn wine, and goat liquor.

Other attractions: In addition to the terraced fields, you can also visit other tourist attractions like Thong Nguyen marketplace, Giang Ha Waterfall, Thong Nguyen tea plantation, the 600-year-old tea tree in Nam Ty Village, other staircase rice fields in Nam Ty, Nam Dich, and Nam Khoa villages, or climb Chieu Lau Thi, part of the Tay Con Linh mountain range.

Ideal time to visit: The most ideal time to visit Nam Hong is during harvest season, which takes place towards the end of September, beginning of October when the rice terraced fields are golden and glimmering.From April to May is the season for irrigation and sowing, preparing for the annual harvest, with lots of interactive activities offered for tourists.Winter lasts from late December until January, which is not as recommended as before as the weather becomes harsh and foggy.However, it is also during this time that most of the local Red Dao festivals take place, if you want to enjoy the culture and ethnic colors.

Herbal bath service: The red Dao’s medicinal herbs consisting of over 40 herbal leaves including calamus, lemongrass, cinnamon, and anise harvested from tall mountains could be very effective in curing grave wounds, sprains, broken bones, and respiratory problems.Herbal concoctions are used in a popular bath routine that even postpartum mothers can enjoy.A course of herbal bath costs 100,000 VND.

Local festivals: The red Dao have many festivals like the coming-of-age celebration, traditional red Dao wedding, annual Pan Wang Festival, and light night abstinence ritual.

Souvenir gifts: Shan Tuyet Tea is the prime specialty of Nam Hong and makes for a thoughtful gift.Other souvenirs include but are not limited to tribal printed bags and clothes handmade by the local Red Dao people.

Other notes: If you visit Nam Hong in winter, remember to bring adequate clothing for the cold weather since the temperature can drop pretty low in the mountains, hitting sub-zero at times.

All homestays provide food, local guides, motorbike taxis and are always happy to help you during your stay.For more information, please contact your local Nam Hong Cooperative via hotline 0373 541 936.

*Xu Kien, a 28-year-old Ho Chi Minh City resident, travels around Vietnam and writes books and a travel blog.


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