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Love the outdoors and get close to nature

Like many mothers, 30-year-old Ly Thu Trang doesn’t want to see her children cooped-up indoors glued to the television set or sat playing video games.

Picture perfect: The beautiful landscape of Hien Luong Lake.
Picture perfect: The beautiful landscape of Hien Luong Lake.

Living in a country as beautiful as Vietnam, she knows during the months when schools break-up, the best place for her and her family to be, is the great outdoors.

This summer’s chosen destination for a family vacation was Da Bac District in the northern province of Hoa Binh.

This mountainous region is 110km south west from Hanoi’s but may well be a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.

Swim time: The swimming pool is a popular spot for the children.
Swim time: The swimming pool is a popular spot for the children.

Ke Village is one the most attractive community-based tourism sites in the region.

“People may hear much about homestay tourism in Hoa Binh Province, but I believe that Ke Village is the most special place,” said Trang.

After so many cancellations, Trang and her family booked a place at the last minute.

“We have a totally relaxed time and valuable experience at a peaceful land,” she said.

“My children enjoyed swimming, hiking through corn fields, kayaking in Hien Luong Lake, walking along the stream. They have a trip in which they became liberated, full of energy.”

Ke Village welcomes tourists with its lush green gardens equally as pleasant as the locals who greet visitors with a smile as warm as the beautiful sunshine.

What’s cooking?: Tourists and locals gather to prepare banh oc, a speciality made from rice, pork and mung beans.
What’s cooking?: Tourists and locals gather to prepare banh oc, a speciality made from rice, pork and mung beans.

As you gaze into the distant landscape, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in fact in a gallery, viewing a wonderful work of art complete with mountains in the background, stream running nearby the village and Hien Luong Lake.

“If there is one thing my children can complain, it’s too hot because there is no air-conditioner,” said Trang.

“They tossed and turned in bed at night due to the hot weather but when they wake up, they immediately jumped into the fresh and cool water of the stream nearby. So I think it is worth the small inconvenience.”

La Nam Anh, 14, said he and his father had enjoyed kayaking in the lake.

“The water is so cool and clean,” Anh said.

“I can swim there all day. My father is often busy so he seldom plays with me. I’m so happy that thanks to the trip, he played with me all day and we have fun.”

Treats: One of reasons tourists flock to Da Bac is the cuisine like fresh fish and shrimps caught from Hien Luong Lake.
Treats: One of reasons tourists flock to Da Bac is the cuisine like fresh fish and shrimps caught from Hien Luong Lake.

During a long, fun-filled day, tourists are invited to join a cookery class where Thai people instruct guests to make banh oc (snail cake), their speciality.

The cake is made from pork, rice and mung beans. And it is wrapped by banana leaves in the shape of a snail.

Both children and adults are enthusiastic to take part. They try to wrap as much as they can into the leaves.

While waiting for cakes to boil locals get the party started, inviting the tourists to take part in folk singing and dancing.

“Beautiful landscape, friendly locals, tasty food and good accommodation, we have enough reasons to come back to Ke Village,” said Trang.

It cost VND990,000 (roughly US$43) per person for two days including two-way transport, meals, accommodation, swimming, kayaking, hiking, art performance with the local people and cookery class.