THE FAR NORTH || THE NORTHWEST || MOC CHAU
From Son La Highway 6 climbs east, passing YEN CHAU – a town famed for its fruit – and some very pretty Black Thai villages on the right after about 80km, particularly LA KEN, which can be visited by crossing swaying suspension bridges over the river. With your own transport, you could make a detour about 20km west over rolling hills to the Chi Day Cave, a popular pilgrimage site for Vietnamese; look for a right turn about 36km south of Son La. The main road from Son La climbs onto a thousand-metre-high plateau where the cool climate favours tea and coffee cultivation, mulberry to feed the voracious worms of Vietnam’s silk industry and herds of dairy cattle, initially imported from Holland, to quench Hanoi’s thirst for milk, yoghurt and ice cream. Just less than 120km out of Son La, the sprawling market town of MOC CHAU provides a convenient place for a break. For the next 4km heading towards Hanoi, the road is dotted with stalls selling local milk products such as three kinds of flavoured milk, thick home-made yoghurt and blocks of condensed milk (which they advertise as chocolate when cocoa is added), as well as green tea. The rigid lines of tea bushes that border the road round Moc Chau create curious patterns, and though there are few side roads, this is a region in which some might want to linger. Most, however, head on down Highway 6, through valleys where the Hmong live in distinctive houses built on the ground under long, low roofs, and surrounded by fruit orchards, to MAI CHAU, which lies up a side valley south of Highway 6.
MOC CHAU TEAS
Enjoying natural advantages with fresh air and the average height of 1,050m against sea water level, Mộc Châu tea is green and acrid. Like other kinds of tea grown on high mountains and traditionally processed, but Mộc Châu tea seems to be a wonderful tonic which can help users to become healthier. Tea hills stretch out endlessly, forming a peaceful green carpet. Tea is not only a thing to attract tourists but also help to reduce poverty for local people. Thanks to the tea cooperation with Mộc Châu Tea Company, many local families have an improved living condition.
Climbing to the mountain peak, visitors will see green grass hills. Mộc Châu grass can bear all severe challenges of the nature such as hoarfrost and long drought. The grass is also as strong as the locals. Milk in Mộc Châu also has different taste which is cool, sweet and greasy. A girl cutting grass with a sickle said the area’s cow flocks are handed over to households and they send milk to the farms. There are no cow flocks raised at the farms for painters to draw pictures and poets to compose poems. Mộc Châu fresh milk is now sold in all cities of Hà Nội. Fresh milk boxes are brought to every family nationwide.
Visiting love market
Mộc Châu love market opens every solar September 1. It is as nice as a picture with various colors of Mông people’s clothes. Mông Đơ people often wear white, while the dress of Mông Đu, Mông Si and Mông Lềnh groups is black, red and flowery respectively. The different colors create a nice flower forest.
Mộc Châu is also similar to Khâu Vai love market (Mèo Vạc - Hà Giang), in some ways. During a 40-year development process, many young people generations meet together here and get married. Many couples could not become husbands and wives, but they still keep the relation as friends who often meet together again at the market. Châu Mộc market has become more crowed. Since the 1990s, thousands of Mông people from the Northeastern region have come here. Ethnic minority groups such as Dao, Kinh, Khơ Mú, Mường and Thái also visit Mộc Châu to celebrate Tết with Mông people.
In the past, people had to spend a day to walk or ride horse to market and many of them even had to stay here at light due to the long distance to go back home. Currently, the main means of transport of the locals is motorbike. The roads are now crowed roads with motorbikes. Many young people stop their motorbikes to wear new clothes when nearing the market. They find girl friends and come to another place for talks. The meeting is over, leaving unforgettable memories of love, friendship and songs.