Life in the mountains of North Vietnam has never been easy. The ethnic tribes who live in this region have been dependent upon agriculture for centuries and the techniques they have used, and the terrain that provide the fields are much the same as they have always been. The only way to grow crops in the mountains is to create terraces that retain the water and prevent soil erosion. Y Ty is one of the poorest parts of Bat Xat, indeed of the whole province of Lao Cai. It is also one of the most beautiful and when you are planning your Vietnam holiday, you should look at this area for inclusion.
The highest mountain, Nhi Cu San stands at 2,700 metres and is often covered in cloud. However, there is plenty of colour which varies with the season. While the rice grows on the terraces, green in the predominant colour but as harvest time approaches, September and October, the rice terraces appear golden. The whole region of Y Ty is at 1,500 metres and more so it does take time to reach it, yet the journey itself is spectacular, and the rewards on arrival are well worth the effort.
The Ha Nhi are the predominant ethnic group and their houses made of earth are something you will not see elsewhere on your Vietnam travel package. There is a single main door and the clay walls are as much as 50 cms thick.The roof is made of straw and a single window provides ventilation, helping to cool the home in summer and retain the heat in the winter. Houses range between 60 and 80 square metres.
The town of Y Ty itself looks over China, and the technique of growing food in China is the same; terraces. The width of each terrace varies with the gradient of the slopes on which they are created. They are at their narrowest, the steeper the slope and may not be any wider than a single metre.
The villagers do little on the terraces during the winter; there is a single crop each year and after the harvest they need only to be ploughed before the planting season arrives. In between, there may be some snow but that does no harm in terms of fertility. The terraces are planted once they have filled with water and for a while, the water shimmers in the sun, until the small shoots come through. Over the next weeks, the rice continues to grow and the overall appearance is an increasing amount of green. It is a lovely time to see and photograph the terraces even though there will be rain around.
If you are thinking about a Vietnam family vacation, the children’s knowledge of geography will certainly improve by visiting the northern part of Vietnam and seeing the rice terrace fields in the mountains. Why not talk to a Vietnam travel agent to see what can be arranged within a holiday itinerary?