“Trip to Mu Cang Chai Could Not Have Been Better”
” The story of Jesse Pearlman- Zonitrip’s customers on 12-14th Oct, 2017″
I first spotted this place when I was bullshitting on instagram about a year and a half ago. I told myself then and there that I was going to make it to this place. Thanks to a bit of good luck (my vacation timing lining up perfectly with the harvesting schedule of the rice) and lots of research, I was there living my dream.
I highly recommend anyone with the opportunity to go here to take it. Even more so than Sapa, Mu Cang Chai is nearly devoid of tourism and commercial appeal. It is untouched, but treated by its locals as something much more than agriculture.
Mu Cang Chai, you are beautiful. It’s been an honor and a (white) privilege.
I took an early morning bus from Hanoi to Yen Bai which took about 3 hours. From there, we biked nearly 4 and a half hours through tall and misty mountains.
Color Guide to Rice Paddies:
Bright Green= Growing healthy Golden= Ready to harvest Brown= Already harvested and now just mud
Each little pull-off viewpoint that had a beautiful view was typically manned by a person who owned that portion of the land. You would have to pay them a small denomination to take pictures there. The fee was something like 5 cents US, so I think it was a pretty chill deal for everyone involved
This was about the highest point of the mountains leading to Mu Cang Chai where I could take a picture. Past here, the air was either dominated by fog or rain. For motorbike riders, you can decide which is worse.
If it weren’t for my guide Minh Nghĩa Bùi, I would have driven past almost all of the secret roads heading to views like this one📷Playing with a cute little puppy while it storms outside
It didn’t always look like this. A 45 minute hike in pouring rain resulted in heavy fog over this particular viewpoint. After a few beers however, the fog subsided and I was able to capture this amazing shot.
Those little huts are where they store the grains once they have been picked, in case of heavy rain.📷
When I first discovered Mu Cang Chai online, I saw a picture similar to this (if you search google, you can find it pretty easily). I thought to myself “there is no way this is real…”📷The “Golden Hour” is upon us.
The people of Mu Cang Chai are not Vietnamese, they are Mong. The language they speak is closer to Chinese, and these are their traditional clothes. They insisted on dressing me up in their garments as well, which you’ll see in the next picture📷Eating some rice with bamboo shoots and liver
To finish our incredible day, we climed to the top of a fairly large mountain to disover a group of Mung living and harvesting their rice. This man is disposing of ‘bad grains’ that will be eaten by his bull. With stunning views everywhere you look, it’s hard not to smile
I asked the people if they would take my picture, but they refused to do so unless I climbed this structure. In an upset of massive proportions, I did not fall off
Thank you so much Minh Nghĩa Bùi for everything! You were a wonderful tour guide.
Nghia was a wonderful tour guide who spoke great English and had a great deal of knowledge of the geography, culture, and networks within Yen Bai Provence. I really enjoyed having Nghia as a guide because she was so willing to share information about the Vietnamese countryside but she also gave me my personal space.
Nghia is also a very skilled and experience motorcycle driver, and I recommend riding on the back of her bike unless you are a skilled cyclist. Another aspect of the trip I loved was how much Nghia was willing to let me personalize the experience. It seems like she really gets to know each of her customers and designs a trip in the moment to fit their personalities. A little bit like “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” 📷
Anyway, the beauty of the places you’ll go are unparalleled (Mu Cang Chai), and the service within this tour is also second to none. I recommend it to anyone with a love for travel, adventure, and passion for photography.