Yellow autumn draws visitors to Mu Cang Chai


In autumn, the fields of Mu Cang Chai turn varying shades of brilliant yellow and are filled with life as ethnic Mong farmers, wearing traditional attire, harvest the abundance of ripe rice and shoulder bags of the grain home over mountains and hills and across swinging suspension bridges.

Mu Cang Chai is about 300km away from Hanoi, to the northwest. The location has been closer and more famous for domestic and overseas travelers. Overseas backpackers and photographers usually tramp to Yen Bai just to witness the terraced fields, enjoy fresh air, taking nice and splendid photos.

September and October are the finest months in Mu Cang Chai and also the most attractive month to tourists and travelers.

Terraced fields, which rise and fall on hills and mountainsides as well as streams and rivers, are beautiful all year round. Visitors in March are treated to the sight of glittering ponds. Locals transplant rice seedlings from April to May. After that, all hills are covered by an everlasting green. Rice fields start to turn yellow with ripeness from early September.
Terraced rice fields are visible from virtually everywhere in the district as they expand over 2,200ha, including 500ha in Che Cu Nha, La Pan Tan and De Xu Phinh communes. The terraced fields in these villages were recognised as a national heritage in 2007 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A trek through these villages offers a fabulous view inside the lives of the Mong people. Young boys are often seen joyfully playing on the roadside. In the distance, huts used to provide cover as farmers watch over their harvest dot the vista.

From Trong Tong Hamlet in La Pan Tan, terraces pour onto each other from above like yellow stairs calling people to heaven.

Rice fields are not only a source of food and income for the Mong; they are an intrinsic part of their culture and of Mu Cang Chai, which is itself a quiet district on the bank of the Nam River. To reach Mu Cang Chai from Ha Noi, you should follow the beautiful route of Road 32. Do not forget to stop at Tu Le Town in Van Chan District on harvest days to enjoy the outstanding flavour of sticky rice with chicken. In this town, local people harvest unripe rice to make green rice flakes which have the aromatic flavour that speaks of the beginning of autumn.

At this time, some of the rice fields scattered in the valley are turning a dark yellow which brings a sweet-scented ambience throughout the vast valley.

After leaving Tu Le, you will follow the Khau Pha mountain pass to travel the 27km between Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai. The name of the mountain pass literally means "sky's horn".

In the morning, the pass is typically hidden in a thick fog, making it impossible to see more than two metres in front of you. Sometimes, you have to close your eyes because of the curves. However, when you reach the summit, where cool breezes blow throughout the year, you have a sense that you‘ve reached the gates of heaven and are standing on a cloud...

In addition to terraced fields, Mu Cang Chai was blessed with naturally beautiful flora and fauna and outstanding geographic features, including vast mountain ranges with high peaks which have protected the people for ages. With forest area covering 80,000ha, researchers have found 22 reptile species, 127 bird species and 53 animal species, notably 200 individual black lemurs. There are animal reserves in Mu Cang Chai's Che Tao, De Xu Phinh and Pung Luong hamlets.

On the way to Mu Cang Chai, a stop at the Giang stream in Van Chan is recommended for a soak in the jacuzzi to relax after a long day of adventure and to also to buy some aromatic San Tuyet tea as a gift for family and friends at home.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News