by Truc Lam
|Warm welcome: Two intertwining trees form a natural gateway to Sin Suoi Ho Village, while a rustic signboard welcomes visitors. — Photo baodulich.net.vn
Tourists visiting Sin Suoi Ho village in mountainous Lai Chau Province's Phong Tho District will see beautiful cymbidium orchids in nearly 100 ethnic Mong households.
The 30km winding road to the village from Lai Chau City in the northern province runs along slippery slopes and steep inclines that stretch into vast fanciful clouds, promising an unspoilt, rustic destination and filling the travellers with excitement.
The village, located on a mountain peak at a height of 1,500m, has 103 Mong households, and is alternately surrounded by fog and clear highland sunlight all year round.
Sin Suoi Ho impresses visitors on first sight.
Bright yellow marigolds grow abundantly along the small path leading to the village, mixing with the brilliant blue sky above. Two large intertwining trees at the entrance of the village create a beautiful natural gate.
|Flower in her hair: Gentle smiles can always be seen on the villagers' faces.
On seeing the visitors, the villagers wave their hands and smile as if they are welcoming relatives who are returning home after living afar.
Spring is the season when the village becomes a favourite destination for those who love orchids.
In the dense white mist, along the road to the village, tourists can see cymbidium orchid pots in gardens on either side of the path or under ancient trees with shaggy barks.
|Local attraction: A cymbidium orchid pot of a Mong family. — Photos tienphong.vn
These orchid pots are large enough to require several people to move them, with each stem reaching out strongly with delicate blooms. As almost every family in the village grows orchids, visitors feel as if they are lost in a fascinating flower forest.
"Sin Suoi Ho is a forest of orchids because most families here plant orchids," Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen, an official from the provincial tourism promotion centre, said.
The villagers grow orchids to promote both local tourism and the economy. Besides attracting tourists, each flower plant is sold for around VND200,000 (US$10), bringing considerable income to each household every year, Huyen said.
According the chief of the village, the cool climate and fertile soil there are favourable conditions for orchids to flourish. Each family in Sin Suoi Ho also grows cardamom and jujubes, which also offer a stable yearly income.
|Marketplace: The kermis displays all the local specialties. — Photo tinlanhmienbac.org
Currently, the whole village is implementing community-based tourism. Five families have been equipped with proper facilities, such as wifi and computers, to provide home-stay accommodation to tourists. Visitors are treated to specialties made of black chicken, pig or the stream fish when they stay with a local family.
They also get a chance to enjoy the delicious jujube wine, the specialty of this highland, or savour the sweet crunchy fruit that has both a little bit of tart and sour flavours, the essences of the forests.
In the month of lunar September, Sin Suoi Ho comes alive with the special fragrance of cardamom, the seasonal spice that fills the wind, grass, sky and clothes with its scent. Crowds of people ride back and forth on pack horses to harvest and bring cardamom home.
Walking on the village road, daydreaming in the midst of the fragrance of the dry cardamom of the previous season and seeing traditional housecleaning can make many visitors long for a rustic and simple life.
Another attraction of the village is kermis, where all the local specialties, ranging from black chicken, wood ear mushroom, orchids and jujubes to brocade products woven by skilful Mong women are displayed.
The ethnic people here are gentle and kind. The colourful nature is embellished by the flamboyant dresses of simple souls, charming personality and friendly gestures. Those colours add brilliance to the highland girls' faces.
Tourists surely receive gentle smiles from the girls and strong support from the young men in the villages.
In Sin Suoi Ho, each view looks like a beautiful picture. Visitors leave the village, with their packs stuffed with beautiful photos and lovely memories of the peaceful and lovely land of cymbidium orchids. — VNS