Moc Chau – A snow dream

[Wanderlust Tips January issue 2018] After a night of wandering Hanoi Old Quarter, we drove 200 kilometres by motorbikes along National Highway 6, through numerous breathtaking sceneries to Moc Chau – the largest and most beautiful plateau in the Northern mountains.

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Our first stop was Thung Khe Pass in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh Province. We stopped at Doc Cun at a small shed selling many forest specialties which we bought from a vendor. We enjoyed smoked black pig served with sticky rice roasted in bamboo and sesame salt, as well as a warm teapot. Sitting in a tent among the cold winds and beautiful sceneries, looking over white limestone mountains made us feel like we were in the winter of a western country.

After about 5 hours of riding to Moc Chau, we checked in at Bo s House, a homestay located in a small alley on Moc Chau plateau. I woke up in the morning with the temperature being about 10oC, sipped a cup of hot milk, and ate sticky rice carefully wrapped in green leaves with attractive fragrances of onions, grease and pork floss on a small table overlooking the garden that was drenched in frost. Then we went to Ba Phach village, which was called “the paradise of Brassicaceae flowers” of this plateau. After a few rough roads, the white valley of Brassicaceae flowers appeared behind the mountain with some ethnic minority girls wearing floral skirts.

Going further into the village, looking from above, the whole valley appeared with small villages hidden under the shadow of thousands of white plum trees, white Brassicaceae flowers on both sides of the road, which looked very beautiful and poetic. We rode into the village to explore the specialties; the food was delicious and nicely prepared. We ate sticky rice cooked in bamboo with stream fish, wild cruciferous vegetables, stir-fried veal, and free range chickens from the hills.

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In the afternoon, we went to the pine forest in Ang village, visited Bat cave, swam in Dai Yem waterfall, and finished our day at Moc Chau Dairy Farm, where we saw the process of milk production and enjoyed fresh milk. In addition, Moc Chau had many interesting and romantic attractions such as the heart-shaped tea hill, Na Ka Valley with thousands of plum trees and fields of yellow Brassicaceae. If you have a chance to come here in the spring, you will be overwhelmed by the paradiselike scenery of white plum flowers all over the place like clouds, like getting lost in a snow dream.

In the evening, Moc Chau plateau was bustling with restaurants and food like glutinous yogurt, baby corns, and baked sweet potato releasing attractive scents. We chose a salmon restaurant in Dao Garden for dinner; the salmon were caught and sold at the price of VND250,000 per serving. Six of us ordered 4 portions made into 6 dishes including raw salmon served with mustard, crispy fish skin, sake furai, hot pot, porridge and grilled fish. The cold weather helped us have a good sleep, and the delicious and nutritious food also made the fatigue seem to disappear. Moc Chau is a heaven to spoil those who want to have a relaxing holiday with relatives and friends.

W.TIPS

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IDEAL TIME

– Visitors should travel to Moc Chau in the late winter or early spring (before or during the Lunar New Year) when the plum and peach blossoms season starts. In Moc Chau, plums are planted in fields, sometimes covering the whole village and valley. To admire the plum blossom, you should go to Moc Chau at the end or the beginning of the year.

– The season of Brassicaceae and buckwheat flowers in November also a very good to visit.

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VEHICLES

– You can travel to Moc Chau by motorbikes or cars. The distance from Hanoi to Moc Chau is about 200 kilometres; however, most people choose to ride motorcycles so as to admire beautiful sceneries along the road.

– If you do not ride a motorbike, you can go by coach. You can go to My Dinh bus station or Yen Nghia bus station to catch a 45 – seater bus (luxury sleeper bus or intercity bus). You can choose between Moc Chau, Son La or Dien Bien bus.

– Ticket price to Son La / Moc Chau: Seater bus ticket is about VND 130,000 – 140,000; Sleeper bus ticket is VND160,000.

– Note: It is recommended to ask the bus company about the destination and ticket prices; all the buses that travel to Son La and Dien Bien will go through Moc Chau, so you can catch any of them. The bus schedule runs from 5am to 11pm. However, Moc Chau is divided into two areas by a crossroad: district town (the largest centre) and farm town. Busses mainly go through district town and rarely run through farm town, you should consider this when making reservations. If you choose to stay in the farm town, you usually have to walk or take a taxi to the “motel sub-region” (where there are many motels and homestays).

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CUISINE

The food in Moc Chau features the flavor of the Northwestern Vietnam. Delicious dishes for you to choose from include:

– In Moc Chau, there are stir-fried veal and wild stream fish at restaurant 64, Xuan Bac 181, restaurant 70, or Trau De (Buffalo and Goat) restaurant.
– Vuon Dao salmon restaurant – Moc Chau Vuon Dao sub-region, Moc Chau Farm Town.
– Black pork, Thang Co (meat and internal organs of horses), and Thai dishes can be enjoyed with locals in the pine forest in Ang village.
– Some reasonable restaurants are also popular with backpackers to Moc Chau such as Quang Phung subregion 13 – Moc Chau farm town; Restaurant 75, near Moc Chau bus station.
– In Moc Chau, there are also Docynia indica wines and corn wines with characteristics of sweet and aromatic flavours. In addition, Moc Chau has a specialty of cows milk; you can go to the farm town area and visit any of the cow farms to buy fresh milk.
– Souvenirs: tea, milk, Docynia indica, corns, sweet shortcakes (made of roast glutinous rice flour), keo doi (peanut taffy candy), smoked buffalo meat, beef.

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ACCOMMODATIONS

– Homestays: Bo House, Hamlet 2, Co Quan sub-region, Moc Chau Farm town, Moc Chau, Son La.

– Moc Chau Arena Village, Km 180/122 National Highway 6, Moc Chau.

– Moc Chau Plateau Motel. Adress: Moc Chau Farm Town. Tel: – 0945.918.999 – 0223.567.789 – 0987.848.656 (this motel is clean and has large rooms).

– Truong Giang Motel – Km 183 – National Highway 6 – Hoang Quoc Viet Str. – Moc Chau Farm town – Son La. Telephone: 0914.868.242 – 01249.855.555.

– Moc Chau 327 Motel. Address: No. 327, Le Thanh Nghi Street, motel sub-region, Moc Chau Farm town. Tel: 0916.988.410 – 0165.933.6834.

– Hong Nhung Motel (located on National Highway 6). Address: Sub-region 13, Moc Chau Town – Telephone: 0915.008.456.

– Homestay to admire orchids and strawberries at the Cao Nguyen flower motel. Address: Ang Villate, Dong Sang Commune, Moc Chau District. Phone: 0979.747.558.

– Green Moc Chau Motel – Address: 88 Hoang Quoc Viet Street – (Bo Bun intersection) Moc Chau Farm Town. Phone: 0978.999.055 -567.555.(3) 022.

– Souvenirs: tea, milk, Docynia indica, corns, sweet shortcakes (made of roast glutinous rice flour), keo doi (peanut taffy candy), smoked buffalo meat, beef.

Hong Anh | Wanderlust Tips

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