By Lâm Giang
Pom Coọng Village, near Mai Châu District in the mountainous province of Hòa Bình, is one of the beautiful spots in the north of Việt Nam.
The village is surrounded by nature, made up of rolling hills, rustic houses and immense rice fields.
Pom Coọng has a very unique name. In the ethnic Thái language ‘Pom’ means hill and ‘Coọng’ means drum. Therefore, ‘Pom Coọng’ means ‘the village of hills on a big drum’, implying a great field.
The village has over 70 households with more than 300 people.
Visiting Pom Coọng at the weekend, we fully felt the beauty of the rustic lifestyle of mountainous people. We could feel the peace from the majestic mountains and forests, from the verdant countryside roads.
The topographical structure here is quite special when the mountains and hills are interspersed with the plains, creating a beautiful natural picture in the early morning.
Walking around in the village, we saw stilt houses built in clusters. These types of houses are traditional to the Thái ethnic minority and are usually made of bamboo. The floor is about 2m off the ground and is fixed by solid wooden pillars. The house’s roof is made of rattan and palm leaves. In addition, the houses on stilts here often have large windows to take the wind on hot summer days.
Beneath the houses is a place to sell souvenirs for tourists such as handloom cloth, bags, shirts and bracelets, making houses more prominent.
Interwoven with the unique houses on stilts are green gardens of local and beautiful terraced fields. Tranquillity and coolness are the things that we easily feel when coming to Pom Coọng.
We spent our time walking around the village, taking some photos and breathing in the fresh air, enjoying a really quiet life in a mountainous village which is completely separate from the city.
In addition to the beauty that nature has favoured, the village is also really beautiful in spiritual value. People live in solidarity and friendliness with each other. No gambling, drunkenness or theft happens in the village.
At night, people do not need to close their doors or worry about thieves. Perhaps it is the beauty of the charming nature and the real peace in the community that Pom Coọng is becoming more and more known to tourists.
We chose Mai Châu Countryside Homestay to visit the area. The homestay has a view of the field and a small lake. It has bungalows above the lake, creating a feeling of closeness to nature. The price room for two people is VNĐ590,000, including breakfast.
The homestay is clean and comfortable, well designed and has a spectacular view over the mountains and rice fields. We loved the tranquil atmosphere.
The host was so friendly, he showed us where to go and eat around Mai Châu.
“At present, my family welcome about 100 domestic visitors monthly. Before the COVID pandemic we welcomed about 10 international guests every month; visitors were mainly from Europe. Việt Nam has reopened to international visitors, so, hopefully, our village will welcome more international guests,” said the owner of Mai Châu Countryside Homestay, Nguyễn Đăng Toàn.
Pom Coọng villagers started up tourism business in 1998 with three households, including families of Hà Thị Chung, Khà Văn Vương and Khà Văn Hưng. Up to now, the whole village has nearly 20 households doing homestay tourism attached to Thái ethnic identity.
According to Chung, visitors to the village are mainly foreign tourists, so they really want to explore the life of the people. Therefore, she organises activities such as working with farmers in the fields to plant rice; helping poor households in repairing houses and building toilets and cycling around the village to discover the beauty of the mountainous region. Besides, visitors can prepare ethnic dishes by themselves to create closeness and attachment with the locals.
Chung said that her family have linked foreign tourists to locals to build many houses in Pu and Nà Mòn hamlets.
When the sun sinks behind the mountains, night falls, and the sounds of musical instruments emerge. The locals now come out and dance with the tourists.
Being stayed there, we also enjoyed the specialities of Mai Châu such as grilled meat with hạt dổi (spice seeds of a tree scientifically named Michelia tonkinensis), cơm lam (steamed rice in a bamboo tube), forest vegetables, seven-colour sticky rice and banana flower salad. Each dish with its unique Thái cooking method gave us memorable culinary experiences.
Hòa Bình Province has many tourist attractions to discover. But if you really want to find a feeling of tranquillity and relaxation, once visit Pom Coọng.
The beauty of the mountains and hills, the beauty of the gentle and hospitable people will definitely bring you unforgettable memories of the Hòa Bình travel journey. VNS