Having a guide with you can make all the difference when you're out and about, first of all with the language, but also with the contact. So much nicer when you can get a smile out of a small kid, be invited in, get a feeling for the way people actually live.
Of course this type of evening is done for tourists, but it was brilliant. From the first song sung by the 7 young women, the dancing and the music to the final tasting of the fermented rice drink (no alcohol) it was a real pleasure, a great atmosphere. We willingly participated in the final dance with the girls and the bamboo staffs, but we were shown the dexterity of the girls when they did this on their own at their rythm. Phew, my ankles would have been knocked about at that speed.
We were taken up a beautiful scenic valley to the river. Here, we boarded a long boat for our river trip. There were some tiny rapids which a guide negotiated us through. We pulled up at a sand bank, and here we began our trek through the countryside and local villages. The people are very friendly, they don't mind you taking photos. At a high point, we looked down over the river. We saw a boat like we were in, taking people and their motorbikes across the river. On the longboat again, and back to our starting point, and a drive back to our village. Really nice, and included in the price of our trip.
I am not sure if it is only on weekends, I was there on the weekend. On saturday night, we went to another homestay. Here there were other tourists and the locals put on a cultural dance performance for us. It was interesting. The last dance, we joined in, it was good fun. We then shared there traditional drink, about six people suck on straws from the one pot. We gave them a tip for their lovely performance.
Rise early with the White Thai people's family you are staying with for a walk and enjoy the picturesque view of Mai Chau.
From the longhouse, walk to Lac village nearby and be colored into the green of valley's rice fields, watch the farmers doing their works on the rice fields... Mai Chau is all fresh air and tranquility.
Walked to the local market. Here I saw my first ducks, pigs and dogs in bamboo cages for sale. The market is a typical one with all kinds of food and clothing for sale.
Bring books, pens, bags... for the minorities kids.
Just small stuffs but they'll appreciate your kindness very much. The reward for the kind people are their angel smiles :-)