After two comfortable and on time flights with Thai Airways, I arrived in Hanoi, one of my favourite cities in Asia. The old quarter that I loved so much in my backpacking days is still fantastic with lots of street food, shops and little restaurants. A great place to wander round for an afternoon.
I am now writing this in Mai Chau, 3.5 hours southwest of Hanoi. I drove through here many years ago on a motorbike, but didn't linger due to the rain, so I am glad I have been able to return and see it with the sun out. Just over a year ago, the excellent Mai Chau Eco Lodge opened its doors. The lodge overlooks vast rice fields to the mountains beyond. The lodge is very good quality, rooms are well appointed and comfortable, all with wonderful views.
The restaurant is at the centre of the resort, the food and service so far has been excellent. There is also a good sized pool for cooling off after cycling or hiking around Mai Chau Valley. Mai Chau is the perfect place to come to explore the Vietnamese countryside and to see people going about their daily business. It’s all too easy to go from city to town through Vietnam and not see anything like this, which is a real shame.
After a stunning walk through the valley, I had lunch with a family who run a little homestay. Everything was cooked over an open fire in their house, it was a great meal and the spring rolls were amazing! Now I am back at the lodge for the afternoon before I head to Ninh Binh tomorrow.
Tonight my guide is taking me to his friend’s house in a village nearby for dinner. My guide said with a mischievous smile, that they have prepared a special dish for me. Something tells me it’s not going to be pork or chicken…
To find out what Neil had for dinner, read the second part of his blog here: Hello from Vietnam - Mai Chau to Hoi An. View our holidays to Vietnam.