Approximately 8km from the town of Sa Pa, Lao Cai, there is a gentle valley slope which is called Ta Van Valley. In the water season, this place is sparkling with the sun shining to the bottom of the terraces.
While the spring is the time when the wildflowers blooming beautifying the brilliant sky in Lao Cai, the summer is the time when the terraced rice fields are submerged and shimmering.
The terraced slopes in Ta Van this season is most beautiful when some plots of land are shown, some others are transplanted or are still being plowed and harrowed. The water, in some places, is clear while muddy or green in the other ones. The different pieces of color interspersed seem to “honor” each other silently creating a vivid picture.
In the early days of around May- June, the terraced fields is filled with water as they are put on the shirt and look like a giant mirror illuminating the surrounding shimmering beautiful sceneries. During the journey to Lao Cai, travelers will certainly be fascinated and captivated by the beauty of these fascinating terraced fields in Ta Van Valley villages.
Hmong and Giay ethnic people in Ta Van Valley start to go to the field in the lunar March days, a few days before or after the Qingming festival. They often start working in fertile areas where there are available water circuit or near water sources such as rivers and streams. H’mong, Giay people dig ditches, repair the bank together to lead water from the sources to the fields for the new crop.
In the rainy season, family members gather together to finish the work more quickly. Women repair the banks while men hoe the land. After that, they lead water to the field to soak the soil, the longer and more carefully the soil is soaked, the more fertile it will be.
When the last hails stop, it is the time for sowing. This time about April in lunar calendar corresponding to approximately May. The land is harrowed another time very fine and leveled before the young rice grains are sown in the field. The plots near water sources or water circuits are plowed first and become a place to store water for the subsequent plots. Initially, they plow 4-5 plots, store water to drain into the other plots. Continuously, until the next rains, they can plow 2-3 dozen of plots. The irrigating season extends throughout the May to June.
Ancient Sapa highland people often brewed rice seed in wooden barrels, but now, the seeds are brewed in bags, wrapped around by wormwood trunk. Seeds are incubated a day and a day or a day and two nights and watered in the ratio of 1 hot – 2 cool (temperature of the water). Once germinating, they are sewn into the smooth ground. After 1-2 days, when the buds appear, the farmers who cultivate in the mountain lead water back to the field to water the seedlings, a month later, the pull up these rice seedlings for transplanting.
Ta Van rice season usually arrives earlier than the other areas along the Northwest. Therefore, the fields in this valley will ripe very soon, usually in the first days of September when the fall has just come. Then, Ta Van will again send into the heart of travelers a different brilliant invitation.
The beauty of water season in Ta Van Valley appears as an animated nature picture – a radiant artwork painted by talented artists. Not only are the beautiful terraced fields created from nature, there is the power from diligent, hard work hands of local people through each day.