Although the internet is a wealth of knowledge about where to go, what to do and see, there is something to be said about going out with no plan and seeing where the road takes you. With motorbikes at our disposal, cheap gas, and no plans, we left our bags at our hostel and started out on a road. It may seem like a strange thing to do but here you really never know what’s on the other side of the mountain.
High in the hills near Meo Vac are small villages nestled among jagged rock jutting out of the mountains at such angles it looks like they’re razors coming out of the earth. If it’s not hard enough to believe that they live here, then imagining FARMING here. It really depicts the resilience of humans. Corn, tea, herbs, and long leaves are grown and harvested, dried and carried for miles on the curvy mountain roads on the back of small, disfigured women. Cows, pigs and chickens can be found on the road, tied to something near the front door of their houses.
Our road of choice lead us to a H’mong village. Where the road ends is the entrance of a school. I think we happened to arrive shortly after school was let out. We caused a bit of a ruckus, two white people arriving on shiny, new motorbikes. The children were very shy, heavily starring from afar. Maybe one in 15 would wave back at us when we smiled and said “Hello!”. Small kids played with rocks on the road, trying to break them in two, or in the dirt in front of their homes. They wore traditional H’mong dress of brightly covered skirt and pants, and many of the children had World Vision jackets (so I am assuming they are sponsored by them).
Enamoured by their shyness we found a small shop, bought candy and went back to distribute the sugar. We know children can’t resist that. And such was our very own Halloween; Except we were the ones who looked funny and everyone stared at, and we were also the ones giving out candy.
With the candy the crowds grew bigger. Some were very open to taking candy from our hands, while others we had to place at their feet before they would touch it. Almost all of them were very hesitant to get their photos taken, either running away or turning their backs when I brought out my camera.
In the end I think we won them over, candy will do that. We smiled and waved as we sped off on our bikes, smiling that maybe our presence will give them something to talk about around the dinner table tonight. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it for many years to come.