On 6th April I set out from Hanoi with Dr. Nina Yiu and a team from the Vietnamese Women's Museum on trip to visit Lac Village near Hoa Binh, South East of Hanoi.
After a three and a half hour drive we arrived in the beautiful village, finding it beautiful and quiet. The village sits in a valley with tree-clad hills surrounding it and which is carpeted in lush green rice fields. Normally this location would be buzzing with activity, local community members working and international tourists on adventure holidays. Unfortunately, due to the effects of the COVID pandemic there are no international tourists and only handful of domestic tourists from other parts of Vietnam. Normally the local community members would be making clothes, bags, and other attractive products with designs based upon traditional patterns and designs. Other community members would take the tourists on trekking trips through the rice fields and into the local hills. The tourists would stay in stilt houses constructed to follow the traditional construction methods. It was tragic to see it so quiet and devoid of visitors.
Nina and the team from the Vietnamese Women's Museum were collaborating on a project that aims to provide some support for the local communities in this area. The idea is that Nina's students at RMIT University in Ho Chi Minh City would work on designs for clothes and bags that are then made by the local community craftspeople and sold to tourists from the Museum, with proceeds going to support the local community in the future.
Of course, the students do not aim to simply reproduce traditional styles and decorative patterns, they wished to add a twist, to transform the designs and patterns in such a way as to reinvest those designs with a contemporary spirit. Some of the designs were more complicated than those that would be usually made in the village and so Nina came to assist them in gaining an understanding of the contemporary designs and also to provide technical advice, visualizing paper patterns etc.
Nina was on official business from RMIT but I financed myself to join the trip to Hanoi / Hoa Binh / Lac Village to see this lovely place.
Although the day turned out to be very busy with non-stop meetings for the whole day, I did find time to take a short walk through the village and as I did so I decided to collect ambient colours along the way.
The location of the village and the colours I collected, along with a few photos I took can be found below.
Before dusk we all set off on the three and a half hours drive back to Hanoi.