Sticky Rice – as in how one should cross the road. 😀
These are Dao people

So – black teeth.   In certain ethnic groups, the young girls, when they get their first period, must blacken their teeth.    They first apply lime juice.   Then they add the bark from a particular tree in the forest, and finally sticky rice.   This mixture stays on the teeth for 7 to 10 days.  During this time, the girl cannot eat – only suck nutrients through a straw.    If she gives in to her hunger, the black paste is not thick enough and she will not be very eligible for marrying.    These teeth remain black throughout her life!   Now – this process is not so common so it’s mostly the older women who have these black teeth.    Believe it or not, this practice was supposed to make the women more beautiful .. .  😳

Cutting up fish

There were lots of these black teeth ladies at the market trying to sell us their beautifully embroidered skirts.    They were persistent.  At one point, we were stuck in a tiny pathway and we couldn’t  get to the other side.   They especially liked John!   😀

This looks great on you Mr John!

So, when someone dies, their body is prepared for burial and they are buried in a wooden casket.   After five years, they are dug up and the bones are cleaned up and the body is reburied in a smaller cement casket.    Te worked on his 89 year old grandmother at the fifth year anniversary of her death and her teeth were still black!   Forever black!

Lots of interesting scenes from this market.  😀

Beautiful skirts
Teenagers . . .

Slicing sugarcane
Negotiations for the chickens . . .
These ladies were surprised that we are as short as they are! 😜

We stopped to view this beautiful waterfall – at the top of the highest peak in th Himalayas of  Vietnam

Te called ahead to the hotel to see if we could check in early . .  His plan was to check into our rooms, walk downtown for lunch, and then head out in the van for our afternoon walk . .   Sounded perfect to us!   So Sapa is a real tourist town!  As in 20,000 hotel rooms!    The Vietnamese folks from the south like to come here to experience the fog and cool weather that they never get further south.   Tourists from other countries come here to trek, to visit the hill people, and just to experience this part of Vietnam    Lots of people.   Lots of vehicles   Like culture shock compared to where we’ve been . . .

 Such beautiful scenery up there!

Lunch was wonderful . . Fresh soup, tea with ginger and honey, these delicious greens stir fried with garlic, chicken with fresh mushrooms, yummy pork!  Always great food over here!   Then we headed up and up and up the mountain!   Cool and damp and misty up here   We were concerned that we wouldn’t get to see any of the beautiful scenery . .

Walking up the hill. 10 percent grade. 😀

However – just as we got to the point where we would start walking, the blue sky appeared .  We were actually above the clouds!   How perfect is that?  😀   We walked along a concrete road built by the government.   Always up but not wet and muddy . .   Which is what we were expecting . .

Just kids.
Siblings we think

So the Black Hmong people are an interesting group.  They care very little for their life as it is on earth – but are more concerned about the afterlife!   The kids are pretty dirty  . . .but seemingly happy.   The women are responsible for most everything in their society.     Although the men do build the houses.    The women take care of the children, tend the gardens, make things to sell.   It was interesting to see young girls working in construction while the boys were just playing.   The men mostly sit around and drink and smoke.  They drink this awful corn whiskey stuff they make here. . .   Seems to me we tried something like this in Africa in the settlements . . .

Beautiful sky
Having fun . . .
Mama Lou met us on the path. She was our companion for much of the walk.
She was very friendly and spoke pretty good English
Talking about our families

50 percent of the babies born die within the first three days of life.    The mom basically delivers the baby by herself . .   There is very little medical care up here – except what the shaman can deliver . .   They don’t worry much when people pass on . . .   They could have plenty of money because they produce cardamom and they can sell this for lots of money.   Usually they trade the cardamom for a pig or a goat or something useful    They have little use for money . .

They dress in black. The material is died many times in this indigo
Hanging to dry before more dying. The ladies hands are stained blue for this work
A typical house
The community bathtub. 😀
Carrying wood on the motorbike
Talk about stunning! 😀

Mama Lou offered to take us to her house.   It was way up high on the hill and then down a dirt path   Very small.   The family is working to get the materials to built a new house but this is what they have for now . . .   Amazing experience!   So cool to actually be in someone’s house . .   Here are a few pictures from this place . . .

Fire to keep you warm. Also a kitty . . . We sat on low stools . . .
Sitting around . . .

So – tomorrow we visit a famous flower market.   Then, we take the Sapa train down to Hanoi.  Probably no internet on the train . . So my blog business might be taking a break . .    It’s busy over here!   😀


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