The Lighter Side of Vietnam
The Lighter Side of Vietnam
Say hello to Huong!
She is from the White Thai ethnic minority of which their roots can be traced back to the geographical regions of Myanmar and Southern China. They mainly inhabit parts of Northern Vietnam such as Mai Chau.
Huong was my guide as she took me around her village of Ban Lac, the local market and 1,000 Steps Cave. Even though she is from an ethnic minority, Huong is like most Vietnamese women who desire to have white skin which is the social norm in Vietnamese culture.
Vietnamese women will go through great lengths to keep their skin white. They will cover their bodies in protective clothing from head to toe (they will also carry around an umbrella, a facemask and gloves) to protect themselves from the sun. Also, they will use skin-whitening creams and if their budget can afford it beauty salon treatments.
When we were going to climb up to the 1,000 Steps Cave (actually over 1,200 steps) I asked Huong if she was going to join us. I asked because it was very hot and dripping humid that day (as it is everyday in Vietnam) and she was wearing jeans, long sleeve shirt and a jacket with a hoodie to cover her head and face.
“I will join you because I am your guide,” she replied.
“Aren’t you hot with that jacket on, especially since we have a steep climb ahead of us,” I asked?
She said the hot weather did not bother her, but was afraid of the sun because she did not want to get dark skin.
I asked if I could take a photo of her before we started the climb and she said yes. She then proceeded to remove her jacket and roll up her sleeves.
“What are you doing,” I asked “I thought you didn’t want to expose your skin to the sun?”
“I want to show my light skin,” she exclaimed!
You gotta love Vietnam!
Check back for more of my adventures in Vietnam! One more photo in the comment section.
Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography
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Taken on: 13th May, 2012. Copyright: All Rights Reserved - See Sam Antonio Photography's page of Flickr
Read more about Mai Chau
Isolated Mai Chau is a 139km trip from Hanoi, and 66km further on from Hoa Binh. Though it's not far, the trip from Hoa Binh to here takes almost two hours by motorbike due to the mountainous terrain.
Mai Chau is in a valley just over the biggest hump, about 10km from the Song Da river and only 150 metres above sea level. The village presents an idyllic rural valley that could easily charm you into staying longer than intended. Nestled between two towering cliffs and surrounded by emerald green paddies, it is an enchanting sight as you wind down the cliff side.
In spring Mai Chau is a bright, almost parrot-green and by autumn this green transforms into golden hues as the rice approaches harvest. Taking the time to watch these transitions of colour seems like a perfectly useful way to ... Read our complete Mai Chau travel guide