Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Road To Mai Chau

(PICTURE: My mom in front of the stilt house where we ate lunch on the way to Mai Chau.)

After our relaxing boat ride, we headed for the White Thai village of Mai Chau. The way we were going was not the road 99% of tourists takes since most people go to Mai Chau from Hanoi and not from Ninh Binh. In a perfect world, getting to Mai Chau should have taken about three hours. However it took double that. The road was covered with pot holes which had us traveling at around 10MPH for a solid two hours which meant a few more bathroom breaks than we had on the original schedule. At one point we stopped at a roadside quick-e-mart (which in Vietnam means a woman with a table of snacks and a small freezer in front of her house).
(PICTURE: My parents with the big pink bus.)

You can imagine the woman's surprise when 24 foreigners got off a large pink bus and asked to use her bathroom. The woman obliged and we all bought a bunch of drinks and snacks from her. Clearly this was the first time anything like this had happened in this area because everyone quickly meandered out of their house and stared at our big pink bus. After a 20+ minute rest stop, we got back on the bus and continued our journey. Unfortunately were were behind schedule which meant the sun set before we arrived in Mai Chau. The problem with this was:
1. I wanted everyone to see the beautiful views from the mountain pass that leads to the village.
2. Not only couldn't we see the views, but the fog on the mountain had a visibility of about ten feet. This meant that not only could our driver barely see in front of our bus as we inched along a very high, narrow mountain BUT it also meant the big trucks coming down the mountain at us couldn't see us. I can tell you, there were a lot of nervous people on the pink bus for about forty five minutes.

(PICTURE: The view from the mountain pass a few days later. This was about 1,000,000 times clearer than when we first took the pass.)