Harvest season begins in the mountains of Y Ty Commune

Located in the northwestern edge of Lao Cai Province's Bat Xat District, the Y Ty highlands are more than 2,000m above sea level, which gives it a mild climate all year round,

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 and the single administrative commune of Y Ty is separated by high mountains. 

Harvest season begins in the mountains of Y Ty Commune
The terraced fields in Ngai Thau are getting ripe now. — VNS Photos Cao Huong

That’s why when you get to Y Ty Commune, it feels like entering a secluded community. The climate can be very harsh during winter, when the temperature can fall below zero, making life here tough for locals, so when it’s cool, and the rice on terrace fields is ripe and harvested, the whole area wakes up after a long nap. 

The terraced fields around Y Ty are famous for the spectacular man-made construction on steep slopes wrapping around the mountains.

Harvest season begins in the mountains of Y Ty Commune
Kids in Y Ty are as joyful as kids anywhere.

Life in Y Ty revolves around tending the fields, planting rice and corn for food. Life can be tough here for much of the year, but the harvest season is a great time to visit to enjoy some quiet moments. 

I rode my motorbike slowly along the winding dirt road that was sometimes tricky with pebbles. The dry roads make it less dangerous than in the rainy season. Travelling by motorbike in the mountains is the best way to explore. You can breathe in the fragrance of the land and the wet woods of the jungle. When you get out to see the terraced fields, a warm fulfilling scent of ripe rice fills the air.  

People of four ethnic groups live in Y Ty, namely the Mong, Dao, Giay and Ha Nhi. The Ha Nhi group belongs to a larger community of Haqniq people living in Southeast Asia and southern China. 

The Black Ha Nhi live in Y Ty and they have built terraced fields for many generations. They plant rice, speak their own language and live in thick clay houses. The thick thatched roofs make their houses look like giant mushrooms from afar. 

Harvest season begins in the mountains of Y Ty Commune
A view of Y Ty Commune from above.

Motorbike riders can enjoy some of the best views in Y Ty to escape the hustle and bustle of regular life and take some stunning photos of the gold harvest. 

The Thien Sinh, or Celestial Birth Bridge, is only 1m-long and is located at the end of Lao Chai Hamlet. It is actually a big stone set above the roaring Lung Po stream. 

 

Crossing this bridge, you’ll see the most beautiful golden crop. Local Ha Nhi people plant special rice that produces this gold colour. If you take a walk around the village, you will likely be greeted by smiling elderly people. 

Harvest season begins in the mountains of Y Ty Commune
The sunset above Choan Then Hamlet.

If you want to have a meal, you need to order food with either your homestay owner or an eatery one day ahead. Local homes make popular and delicious food from pork and chicken with mustard green soups, which they purchase at the local market. 

The Ha Nhi in Y Ty make their own beer and each household has its own version. They make their beer from sticky rice, steamed well, then fermented with forests seeds. The beer is ready after about three weeks of fermenting and the longer it’s kept, the more golden and tasty it becomes. 

If you want to hunt for fluffy white clouds on the terraced fields, you can go to Ngai Thau Hamlet, dubbed the highest community in Vietnam, and be amazed at how large the terraced fields can be and how delicious the new rice can taste. 

Harvest season begins in the mountains of Y Ty Commune
Harvest season kicks in up the mountains of Y Ty.

Along the roads, you may meet women carrying heavy loads of rice home or be greeted by cheerful young children, who have smiles that can warm anyone’s heart. 

Finally, you have touched down with some of the earthy aspects of a place that may seem like heaven up in Y Ty.  VNS 

Cao Huong