After returning to Hanoi for the night following our Legend cruise, we departed for 3 days and 2 nights in the ethnic Thai village of Mai Chau. 

On the way to our lodgings, we were scheduled to stop for an "authentic homemade lunch".  We did.  We stopped in the village of Mai Chau at what appears to be a tourist stop where they are selling local woven products and other "souveniers".  Based on the languages I heard, the tables around us were populated by tourists from other countries.  The food was OK and it certainly was homemade. 

Our accommodations for the 2 nights was the Mai Chau Ecolodge.  Apparently Mai Chau is a popular spot for travelers from all over the world.  I'm not sure but I think Americans were a small minority of the visitors.  We chatted briefly with a man from Germany who has lived and traveled all over the world.  He and his party were also here for a couple of days.

The Ecolodge was very nice but a little difficult for us.  Everything required walking up and down uneven paths and/or up and down stairs.  Manageable but also a bit stressful. 

A peek at the kitchen.

Lunch in progress!
Our room at the Lodge and the view from our room.
After lunch we started to stroll around the area and our guide - King - got us a ride on a 6 passenger "golf cart".  That was a VERY welcome assist.  The cart took us around the village which appears to be aimed at the tourist trade.  Home after home with the local souveniers displayed outside. 
The area is primarily rice paddies.
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A morning excursion was planned for Mai Chau area.  The first stop was a Hmong village about an hour and half drive from the Ecolodge.  We might have made it in a little less time except that there was a very low hanging cloud and we were driving right through it. 

The Hmong ;are one of the "ethnic minorities" in Viet Nam.  We were supposed to visit a school there but it was a holiday and the school was closed.  However, because it was a holiday, there were a number of the residents that were dressed in Hmong costumes, 
In addition to the costumes, we were told the Hmong like sweets on their holiday.
We saw quite a number of bags of sweets.
The Hmong don't build their houses on stilts like the ethnic Thai's.  The Hmong homes are more traditional but still very simple.
After our trip to the Hmong village, we returned to Mai Chau and stopped at the market.  It's a very colorful place with all the fruits and vegetables and chickens, and meat.  What you see is what you get.  No such thing as refrigeration in this market.
Our second day in Mai Chau, actually it was only a morning.  (We had to return to the Ecolodge for lunch and then the 4 - 4 1/2 hour ride back to Hanoi for or flight to Hue,)  The morning activity was an excursion to another ethnic Thai village.  Here we visited a grade school and wandered through the town.
At first the school look vacant.  However, not so!  This is an elementary school for 1st through 6th grade.  We peeked in at one of the classrooms and it looks a lot like this age classrooms everywhere,
We went back to the Ecolodge for lunch.  Very good as usual.  Here's Granny enjoying the meal.
Then if was off to Hanoi to catch the plane for Hue.  On the way, we had a brief R&R stop,  Notice the Vietnamese drinks stacked in the cartons!  The center picture shows our Hanoi guide - Vuong, and our Hanoi driver - Cuong,  The picture on the right intrigued me because here were more outcroppings of the karst formations that we had seen in Ha Long Bay.