The crowds of Red Hmong women gather around the tour vans as they arrive in the hope of selling a souvenir cloth, a purse, an umbrella, or any other of the myriad of items they carry for sale in the woven baskets strapped to their backs. Others just come to check out the people from strange lands that step out of the vans.
Pretty soon the crowd moves on to the next van that’s arriving and you’re left standing with a couple of women with shaved foreheads and eyebrows, and beautiful red headdresses who become your guides as you wander through their village.
They don’t ask for money or tips, only that you inspect their wares and hopefully buy one of their beautifully woven pieces of fabric.
As it is for much of this time of year, the hills were lost in the clouds. The water doesn’t seem to come down as rain; it just floats until you walked into it.
The women are nice enough to invite you into their homes, in this case to show off how wine is made by cooking and fermenting rice.
A lot of tourists pass through Ta Phin, however I certainly wouldn’t call it touristy. It’s a traditional village that just happened to be located near enough to a main road to be accessible. Thankfully, it’s filled with people who want to share it with strangers.
It’s obvious that a life that involves farming by hand and carrying everything everything by foot through the hills isn’t easy.
Slowly however, small signs of wealth are becoming more visible. There are now a few satellite dishes on the outside of ramshackle homes. In an area that traditional television signals have never reached, the new availability of television will bring even more Vietnamese and foreign influence.