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Finding peace in Mai Chau Valley

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Puzzled by the mountains, there is a beautiful valley hiding. Mai Chau appears in the sky background, the harmonious mountain with the natural colors. I came to Mai Chau for two short days, it was enough to feel the peaceful life in this land.

Mai Chau is only 170 kilometers from Hanoi, not too far if you want to travel by motorbike. The path is easy to find and remember, only a straight line from Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan and keep going straight ahead. But Mai Chau challenges the young players like me by the winding mountain roads. There is the flooded road in the thick fog prevent any stranger entering. On the one side is the cliffs, the other side is the abyss covered with white mist, wrap around the range of mountain.

Many other visitors may be interested in Thung Khe Pass, where there is a temporary market along the way of Muong people. They sell all kinds of goods from boiled corn, corn, orchid to birds ad any other wild animals. But I like the place far away from it for about 1 km. I call it White Rock Slope.

Stopped the car on the road, then went along the path covered with crushed stone, dust and cloud, I landed the ledge covered with white stone, dust, and clouds. The landscape here is totally majestic. The feeling of floating between the clouds is wonderful. Stop taking some pictures, I continued to endure the path of thick fog. From this slope, I went about 15km to the Lac village.

Then the car slid down to the slope, I dreamily dropped my eyes under the rolling hills and then the scent of the mountains. Finally, the mist faded away. The green of rice, mop grass, the green of the rising sugar cane, the green of the hills farther away under the cloud, the green of the groves of banana trees gradually appear beyond my eyes.

Mai Chau valley appeared calm, gentle in my eyes. Maybe Mai Chau is not well known as colorful terrace field in Mu Cang Chai or the delicate rice fields in Ha Giang, this place always brings the visitors peaceful feeling when coming here.

Mai Chau is a flower among the mountains of the Northwest. Standing on the road halfway up the mountain and looking down, each plot of land as smooth color array paint on the cool picture of nature in the Northwest.

The small road leading to the Lac village is in the middle of the green field rice. In front of me, the two sides and the back are all hills with the cloud covering. Lightly sunshine, mild wind with the bamboo rustling, the sound of water in the water pipes across the streams, are the peaceful moment of a village in the North West.

A simple and rustic Mai Chau but impressed me a lot. Perhaps, I was seduced by the stilted houses on the slopes I rode every day, by the lovely smile of the playful kids in the small village on the other side of the field or the farmer asked for fire in the middle of the small village road as if it had been in a fairyland. Sometimes, you just need to sit out there, look at rice fields, melon gills, the duck flocks, etc. with a fragrant cup of green tea and the murmuring streams in the rice field.

The tourist service here is also quite developed. The accommodation is simple, not luxury but convenient. The stilted house owner is also enthusiastic and thoughtful. The markets in the village always have vibrant color, with all kinds of clothes, silver ring, brocade bracelet, and necklet, etc. The shops here are renovated from the ground floor below the stilt house of each family. They sell well with the price is extremely cheap, it will help you find the favorite items. Mai Chau brocade is famous for its fine-tuning of Thai women. The ethnic beauty in the costumes of the Thai people is very clear making up the discreet and tenderness of the Thai women.

Surely not only me, to Mai Chau, you will be living in the love, friendliness, and harmony of the people. Walking in the villages, listening to the mother lullaby, the sound of the shutter spreading in the forest calm our inner than ever.

Cau Pagoda

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Cau Pagoda – the pagoda with great cultural significance, was honored to appear on the polymer money 20.000 VND. It is also a symbol of Hoi An in particular but also in Vietnam in general as well.

Why do I say that Cau Pagoda is a symbol of this ancient town?

For the people here, the Cau is more prominent when being compared to many landscapes and relics fascinated people. Hoi An Ancient Town, nestled on the romantic Hoai River, is one of the famous tourist destinations not only for domestic tourists. Hoi An has many monuments, landscapes to please people. For a long time, the beauty of here has gone into poetry, music. For the people of Hoi An, the bridge is a soul, a symbol that has existed for more than four centuries. Coming to Hoi An without visiting the Cau pagoda, you are definitely wasting your airfare.

Cau Pagoda – beautiful from the story of history

Cau Pagoda, as the name suggests, is a pagoda located on a bridge across a creek in the Hoi An ancient town. Built in the early 17th century by Japanese merchants, this is the only one structure that has originated from the Japanese in Vietnamese history. The Japanese Bridge is another name of the Cau pagoda.

But why did the Japanese build this bridge there? Legend has it that this temple is associated with the monster legend Namazu (also known as Cu) – a legendary monster in Japan. This beast is located in India, the body in Vietnam, the tail is in  Japan. So every time it moves, catastrophes like floods, earthquakes, etc. will happen.

Thus, the temple was built with the meaning as a sword blocking Namazu’s back, preventing it from reviving, helping the people’s lives of all three countries are more peaceful.

It was not until 1653 that a new temple was erected. This area connects to the northern railings, protruding between the bridge. The name Cau pagoda was born since then.

The beauty of Cau Pagoda architecture

Built by the Japanese, but the Cau pagoda has a bold architectural special of Vietnam.

The first special thing is in the structure of the bridge. Cau Pagoda is about 18m long and is a brick bridge which means the bridge was roofed with yin and yang tile above, a feature of Vietnamese architecture.

The bridge covered outhouse is quite unique, in the middle is the way is curved, the two sides have the narrow corridor to make a resting place with seven wooden compartments. All of the pagodas and bridge are made of wood, lacquered and carved with many fine details in Vietnamese architecture, typically dragon. At the same time, the artist decorated the structure with a little bit of Japanese style.

From a long distance, the bridge has a smooth bend, crossing Hoai River (a branch of the Thu Bon River). At each bridgehead of the bridge, there is a wooden statue standing, one is a dog statue, one is a monkey. There are many hypotheses that these are Japanese mascots from ancient times, but can also mean the bridge was built from the year of The monkey, which lasted until the year of the Dog. This is not yet conclusive.

In 1719, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu, when visiting Hoi An, he saw the special Cau Pagoda. The Lord named the bridge Lai Vien, meaning “a friend from far away came”. Nowadays, we can still see three kanji letter Lai Vien Kieu carved on a large signboard in front of the pagoda.

The special feature of this pagoda is that the pagoda is not worshiping the Buddha, which is worshiping the northern god Tran Vo Bac De, the god of protection of the country, giving joy and happiness to people, expressing the spiritual aspirations that people want to send to Heaven and earth to look forward to every good thing.

A historical meaningful pagoda

In 1990, Cau Pagoda was recognized as National Historical-Cultural Relic. Not only have the spiritual meaning, the pagoda also plays an important role in transport.

So far, the temple seems to have become an invaluable asset, formally chosen as the symbol of Hoi An.

 

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