Welcome to Si Thau Chai Village. — Photos courtesy of Ngo Thanh Mai

Mai often goes to the northern mountains for work and she always feels lucky to have the chance to explore beautiful mountainous villages. Si Thau Chai left a deep impression on her.

“I am very impressed with this village, which is covered by the surrounding mountains. From the fences to the stone slabs, all is covered with green moss. It is beautiful, pristine and peaceful,” said Mai.

The gate to a house.

Located around 1,400m above sea level, the climate here is quite pleasant: cool in summer and chilly in winter. The whole scene gives people a feeling of comfort and lightness. This is the right place for visitors to find peace, away from the fatigue and noise of the city. It is also a place that keeps many unique customs and cultural values.

The village is located halfway up the Pu Ta Leng mountain range, 6km from Tam Duong Town, Tam Duong District, Lai Chau Province. 

From Tam Duong Town, following a wide concrete road that winds around the hillsides like a strip of silk, Mai's group arrived at the village on a sunny day.

Due to the steep slope of the road to the village, the 29-seat bus could not carry everyone up, so Mai's group had to walk the final stretch. 

“It was okay to walk for a while. We also enjoyed it because the scenery along the way to the village was very beautiful. In return for having to walk, we took very good pictures. At any location in the village, we also had beautiful pictures. For someone who loves photography like me, that's great," said Mai.

In Si Thau Chai Village there are many ancient plum trees. 

Right in front of the gate of the village is an earthen wall with a map showing tourists the village's attractions. It creates a good first impression when arriving in the village.

The gate is built with two stone pillars in the shape of trees, roofed with palm leaves. It looks quite eye-catching. A signboard has the words “Si Thau Chai Community-Based Tourism Village” hung neatly under the roof of the gate.

The roads in the village are paved with stone and lined with stone fences, that are neatly arranged, bringing a feeling of closeness and familiarity.

All roads in the village are paved with stone.

The surrounding landscape of the village is very beautiful. It is clean with lots of roses and orchids. Peach, plum and pear fruit trees are planted on both sides of the road, in the gardens and on the mountainside.

You can see peaches everywhere in the village.

With geographical characteristics and the favour of nature, large terraced fields have been created, stretching gently from the sides of the mountain to the valley.

One of the highlights, attracting tourists coming to the village, is rammed earth houses, a unique architectural identity of the Dao ethnic minority here. Visitors can watch and learn how to make a house of the locals.

According to Lu A Nghi, chief of the village: "The Dao people in Sin Thau Chai build their houses with three rammed earth walls. To make a large and beautiful house takes a month. The walls of the house are quite thick, ranging from 40 to 45cm. They are made quite elaborately and meticulously. The rammed earth home has the advantage of being cool in the summer and warm in the winter.”

To experience the life of the locals more, Mai's group chose A Lu homestay to sleep overnight. The view of the homestay is quite good. Right at the foot of the homestay are beautiful buckwheat flower fields.

At night, by the campfire, they enjoyed the folk songs and dances of the Dao, along with traditional dishes such as grilled fish, chicken and meat with fig leaves.

By a campfire, visitors can enjoy traditional dishes such as grilled fish, chicken and meat with fig leaves. 

Early in the morning, when the fog was low over the ground, they woke early to enjoy the cool air of the mountains. They visited Tac Tinh Waterfall, a place associated with the legend of the love story of a local couple.

"The scenery here will captivate any traveller," Mai said.

Soon, Si Thau Chai is expected to attract more tourists when the 2022 Open Pu Ta Leng Paragliding Tournament, within the framework of Lai Chau Tourism - Culture Week, takes place at the village. There will be around 100 domestic and foreign paragliders there between April 14-17.

Children in the village. 

Si Thau Chai has more than 60 Dao ethnic households. Earlier, the people’s life was mainly based on agricultural production, with the main crops of rice, maize and cassava.

With natural scenery, a cool climate all year round and unique customs and cultural values, Si Thau Chai started to build a tourism-culture village in 2015.

“We determined that it needed to be done step-by-step. Initially, we mobilised people to relocate their barns out of residential areas. Many households disagreed so we had to go to every house to persuade them,” village chief Nghi said.

“We explained that raising livestock and poultry near the place of residence will cause unsanitary environment, affecting the health of the family and neighbours. Finally, this problem was solved after two years, and all local households made separate houses to raise livestock and poultry.”

According to Nghi, when the people's sense of common hygiene was formed, it was also the time when the village officially embarked on tourism. The village’s managing board continued to mobilise people to decorate their houses, build stone fences, plant trees and create landscapes for the village.

Flowers in front of a house.

The roads in the village had also been paved with public budget. With the investment of the State and the consensus of the people, Si Thau Chai Village is becoming greener and more beautiful, attracting tourists to visit and experience.

Source: Vietnam News

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