The road to Sapa was full of rocks, mud, soil land… Especially when you come with a motorbike, the way would just get more and more interesting. The expectation was high because Sapa had always been in my mind as a highland city with incredible views of terrace rice fields which are so popular when people talk about the North of Vietnam. However, it is not the only thing I look for in Sapa because I came there to learn different colours of Vietnam, the colours that you can find in different tribes which are completely different from the Vietnamese culture. So there I went to a place called Ta Phin Village( Bản Tả Phìn).
Just 15km away from the centre of Sapa, I hitched the road to get to Ta Phin Village. The road was not long but full of hidden excitements. Up hills then down hills, through bumpy rocky roads, on those roads that you thought you could never get on, I went up higher and higher then a beautiful picture which seemed to be taken so many times appeared in front of me. Those greenish terrace rice fields ran long and spread so far like infinitively.
It could be a shame to tell but I had not known anything about Ta Phin before I got there. Point at the maps and go are more likely how I do because there is always something exciting awaiting me.
Ta Phin Village
This remote village is surrounded by a mass area of terrace rice fields but the village itself is very small. However, the population is filled with a great amount of ethnic people from Dzao and H’mong. Up there on the hill, things are so much different from the city. It is an obvious thing to say, but it’s a statement that you can only make when you see it with your own eyes. Houses are simple with one compartment, traditional ethic houses are spare which are made from wood. In the village, it would probably not have enough accessibility but no one complains about it.
In Ta Phin, there is not much to do except for walking around and visiting the Ta Phin Cave which is known for too small for westerners to come in. However, if you do not mind the uncomfortability, there is no reason to not dropping by.
The Red Dzao minority
I arrived in the village without where to go and what to do but a Dzao lady friendly asked me if I wanted visit her home. As an instinct, I thought it would be just a scam or their way of making money. However, I was wrong! She is a warm hearted person who just wants to show people around and show her work on embroideries. “If you like, you can buy for me a small thing but otherwise it is okay” – she said. Not many people from the village are able to go to Sapa because they have to either take care of their children back in the village or they don’t have the transportation to go into town. Therefore, their business is in the village.
Even though Dzao people are Vietnamese but Vietnamese language is not their first language. They speak Dzao language and Vietnamese language is their second language which they have to learn at school. Some people did not get a chance to go to school to learn Vietnamese but because of their selling embroidery business, they learn while doing so. Therefore, their Vietnamese language knowledge is far to be compared to Vietnamese people.
It is easy to recognise Red Dzao people. Women usually wear a long blouse over trousers. Their clothes are colourfully embroidered with designs that appear on both sides of the material. On their heads, they always have a red bandana on. You wouldn’t see many men wearing traditional clothes because they only do so in special occasions like weddings, holidays… Most of the time, the men go out to work so they wear normal clothes for the flexibility.
As a Vietnamese born, I see so many differences from Dzao people and normal Vietnamese people (actually most Vietnamese people are in the Kinh ethnic group). We do not speak the same language, our culture is somewhat nothing in common. However, we are still one nation and I am happy to learn another culture of my motherland.