The Village of Mai Châu

Thai stilt house among trees with smoke hanging. Mai Châu village is ethnically Thai. There are some two million people with this heritage in Vietnam. These houses in the village, arranged to allow maximal air circulation around them, are typical of the culture, and seen throughout Vietnam Flooded fields with houses beyond. The house at the back of this line, to the left, is the one shown at the top of the page. Mai Châu village and town lie in a deep and picturesque valley through which runs a tributary of the River Mã - more on coming pages As with many place names in Vietnam, Mai Châu designates more than one community. It is the name of the district which lies about 140 kilometres to the west of Hà Nội and has a population of some 55,000. Then it is the name of the main town of that district. And thirdly, across the fields from the town, is the village of Mai Châu. It is the village which accounts for the familiarity of the name, for it appears in every travel agent in the country with the offering of 'Home Stay'. This fame is due to a government scheme which established a number of such tourist villages in poorer rural areas. The success of this support has been impressive. The district is predominantly Thai (70%) and the stilted Thai houses make attractive accommodation for visitors - while the welcoming nature of the inhabitants does no harm at all. Road pointing at hills with building frame to left. At the edge of the village, by the road that leads to the neighbouring small town... The wooden skeleton of the new community centre. ...a new community centre was in the process of being built at the beginning of January in 2007 The bottom of the wooden posts of the framework finish half a metre off the ground on concrete stands. The base of the framework's posts... A near view of the framework. ...are kept well clear of the ground to prevent rotting The walls (being a stilt house this is on the first floor only) and roof are now nearly in place. And this is the building three weeks later The completed centre. And again two years later The completed community centre standing in the fields with village houses to one side. Here the community centre is seen as it stands near the entrance to the village. But 'Community Centre' is rather a mundane translation. The picture above, right, peps this up a little with the Vietnamese version in large letters on the balcony, it reads: 'Nhà Văn Hoa' - 'Culture House' Narrow paved road running between houses with a cyclist . The 'main' road which leads from the nearby town of the same name into the village The ground floor area under a house with clothes drying. Typically the areas under the houses have many uses, here, behind the clothes is a small shop Unpaved track leading into the village on which is a man in bare feet following a buffalo. Un-paved tracks, buffalo, and bare feet, seduce tourists Small single story building. Not all buildings are Thai - a small Việt house A narrowing lane with piles of building and household materials. The huddle of a village lane: wooden panelled, plastered and woven walls; tiled, thatched and asbestos roofs; ground floor as shop, used for storage or filled in with a wall Wall panels patterned by the weave of leaves. Outside walls may be of woven palm leaves on frames; some inside... Bamboo cut into short sections and mounted in panels to make patterns. ...walls use bamboo to create decoration Steps up at the side of a house with thatched roof. Steps ascending steeply next to bamboo panelled walls. Steps leading into the centre of a house. Thai house, being on stilts, allow a variety of uses for the space so created, here dimly illustrated - the light is too poor below stairs - as shop (left) and bike shed (right). Punctuation is provided by a nearby sleeping dog of the edible breed, hence the always anxiously half open eye. All ground areas in Vietnam have dogs as fixtures, although not all are for eating. Textured shutters with sign below saying Guest house no 15/Serce Eat and Drink. Nearly all the village houses offer accommodation. This is number 15, the faded Vietnamese print indicates that the 'serce' should read 'service' Two windows with balastrade and painted details. A little colour added to the browns of the woods Westerner aand two Vietnamese sitting on the floor and eating at a low table. Within the guest houses sleeping accommodation is mats on the floors of large rooms. Traditional large Thai houses have no internal divisions. And eating, too, is at floor level, although here the comfort of a low table has been added. For more mat meals go to this page Go to another page. Large Thai house with line of coloured cloths for sale. Besides the provision of accommodation the sale of home made cloth is common and the open lower floors of the houses offer an ideal sheltered space in which to work. Large loom under a house overlooking fields. A Loom with a View. Maybe it is fair to warn the over enthusiastic tourist that not every single piece of cloth on display comes from the fair hands of the lady of the house Three men sitting on near metre high tree trunks at a bar. And there are, of course, bars in the Mai Châu. Further the rapid building of new guest houses in the village... New large Thai house with stair and balcony. the one above, mean that the proclaimed 'hidden charm' of this corner of rural life, is showing signs of fraying Young woman sitting sewing with line of cloths for sale behind her. But here is charm on full display - from a guest house owner Trailers... Women kneeling with fans. The next page of this section stays in Mai Châu offering some pictures of the daily dancing displays. Tiled dragon on roof corner. The next page of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Dragons'.
Or go to the contents of the Mosaic Section.
Saturday 18th July 2020 Murphy on duty to this site

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