Vietnam: a cup of tea in Moc Chau
Early in the morning, we left our accommodation and headed west from Hanoi. Moc Chau is about 180 km away from the capital and it took us several hours to get there. On the way, we made a couple of stops which provided nice views of a landscape dotted with small cone-shaped mounds. But those stops also showed how a big problem all the ubiquitous rubbish was. A view of skinny cows which were looking for a last bunch of fresh grass among heaps of plastic bags was pretty sad.
After midday, we arrived at our accommodation in Moc Chau. The homestay itself was surrounded by a lovely tea plantation with good views of hills in the distance. We stayed in a simply equipped but spacious dorm with two other girls. As a welcome drink, we got a cup of tea which was so strong that it could easily replace a shot.
Surprisingly, the only downside of that accommodation was food. The selection of meals was not a good fit for us. Personally, I’m not a fan of too fatty meat or frog’s legs. So, eventually, I settled for plain rice and cabbage. Better than a rumbling belly.
Next to our homestay was a short loop walk inside the tea plantation. Later, we also went to a tiny workshop where they did all the work which followed after a harvest – drying and packaging the tea. Although, at the time of our visit big drying pans were turned off. The lady at the workshop did a tea tasting for us with multiple samples of their own tea. As we quite liked some of those, we bought two small packages of the tea. Unfortunately, later at home when we tried them, we realized that they were of much lower quality than the ones at the workshop.
Then our guide took us for a stroll to a nearby village. After experiencing busy Hanoi it was a nice change and we enjoyed a calm atmosphere there. We passed a house where wedding preparations were going on. When we left the village we carried on along the path which winded among fields. There were only a few houses on the surrounding hillsides and everything looked peaceful.
The next day, we drove to Moc Chau town. As a first thing we climbed up to Doi Cave. The vast cave was embellished with awesome stalactites and from the main room there was a number of narrow footpaths which led to other tiny chambers. On the ceiling we could identify marks from bats which gave it its name – Bat Cave.
Our next stop was Ang Village. There was a lake surrounded by pine forest where we rented tandem bikes and went for a ride around the lake. Although riding that type of bike looked pretty easy, it took us a while to manage to coordinate our movements and keep the bike going straight. Even if the path was nicely flat and paved. Once we got on a bit harsh terrain I rather jumped off the bike than end up with bloody knees.
The last bit for the day before we headed back to Hanoi was an orchid garden. It was located just a few minutes drive from the lake but could have been easily skipped because it was not worth it. Moreover, it was not a blooming season. So, we only saw a bunch of green plants, apart from few exceptions, and one poor bird of prey locked in a small cage. It seemed to be just a time killer to fill the schedule before we hit the road again.
As a part of the plan we were originally supposed to go to see the Dai Yem waterfall. However, our guide advised us that there had been some work done on a hydro power station and therefore there was hardly any water left in the waterfall.