the company I work for partners with a French NGO to do the field work in Thanh Hoa–and this weekend 10 of us, from both organizations, went on a field trip to see some of the bamboo workshops in that province.
so after work on friday, we set off towards Mai Chau village in Hoa Binh province to spend the night: although only 120 km away, it took well over 3 hours to get there. it’s a well known ‘ethnic minority’ village (don’t know what the PC term is nowadays), and though I think it’s supposed to be charming to sleep in a stilt house, it was a bit odd to share with people I barely or don’t know from work (1 other woman and 8 older men).
anyway, we got an early start the next day (one of the roosters crowed for an hour straight, while another just seemed lazy), but it wasn’t long before we reached our first stumbling block:
because of the typhoon that hit China and north Vietnam, there’s been a lot of rain the past few days and so the river here has risen and flooded the road (the boys running this raft were making a killing). our van couldn’t go, and other trucks in the area refused to take us (because they knew that even if we passed this point, we’d get stuck further down).
here is a picture of the river nearby: the extremely fast-moving ‘horse’ (ma) river, also used to transport bamboo.
well we didn’t see what we had planned, but it was not a total loss; this is bamboo country and there were several workshops along the road where we were–so after wading through some water we saw a bamboo chopstick-making workshop, and we delved into the woods and took a look at one of the farms in the hills. I learned a lot, with the help of the agronomists and field workers with us. we also ran into the farmer and got to ask her a few questions about harvesting practices…
I didn’t take many pics of the farm, but here is the chopstick workshop:
tiring, but a really good trip: starting to understand what we’re doing out here…