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Picking plums in Moc Chau

Moc Chau Plateau in the northwestern mountainous province of Son La may be the perfect destination for you if you are looking to escape from the summer heat.

Picking plums in Moc Chau

by Thanh Nga

Ripe for the picking: It is plum-harvesting time in Moc Chau. — Photo sba.vn
(VNS) Moc Chau Plateau in the northwestern mountainous province of Son La may be the perfect destination for you if you are looking to escape from the summer heat. Here, average summer temperatures are 20-260C and there is usually a cool, calming breeze. In particular, visitors between April and June can enjoy a very special holiday as in these months it is plum-harvesting season. The fields of plum trees turn luscious pinks, reds and purples, stretching out into the distance almost as far as the eye can see.

In the early morning, Mong and Thai people call one another to gather plums. Their conversations and laughter echo out over the hills. Then, when the sun goes down, hundreds of tonnes of plums are packed into baskets in preparation for trade across the country.

For locals, the plum tree is a gift from nature because it grows extremely well on highland soil and requires very little care. Furthermore, it produces a particularly valuable yield.

Lifeblood: Plums are an important source of income for people in Moc Chau. — VNS Photos

Pham Thanh Lam, 50, says that this year plums are selling at about VND8,000 (30 US cents) per kilogramme, which is VND3,000 more than last year. As a result, the local people, already known for their cheeriness, are feeling particularly positive this year.

Lam's own plum field covers an area of 2ha and contains 200 trees which are on average 15 years old. Each tree gives him 50-60kg of fruit per year which can be sold for up to VND450,000 ($22.5).

According to Lam, every household in Moc Chau has around 5,000sq.m to plant plum trees.

"It is an important source of income for people in the plateau. The plums here can make locals wealthy."

According to Ngo Thanh Dao, a member of the management board of the Moc Chau Tourism Area, they have been given significant investment for the building of a unique tourism programme.

"Visitors go to the plum fields and pay fees of up to VND30,000 ($2.5) per person to eat, stay at a local home and harvest plums. After the harvest, the tourists are paid for picking the fruit," said Dao.

This option is becoming increasingly popular with guests to Moc Chau. They enjoy the feeling of pulling down plum tree branches, plucking the fruits and dropping them in the harvest basket. If they are thirsty, they can snack on the biggest, most succulent fruit while sitting down and listening to the twittering of the birds.

Fruit trail fun: Mong girls go to pick plums together.

If farming is not your cup of tea, you can spend your free time exploring the abundant grassy hills and tea plantations, taking photos and learning about the simple but charming life in rustic Moc Chau.

Just 3km from Moc Chau, you will come across Dai Yem waterfall, known as Ban Vat by local people. It is a historic landscape, closely entwined with the history of the Thai people.

It looks incredibly stunning during the rainy season from April to September, when the 70m-wide waterfall crashes down in a dazzling white froth, imposingly dramatic and poetic.

A visit to the waterfall may whet your appetite for a trip slightly further afield. Located 40km to the south of Moc Chau is the 27,886ha Xuan Nha- Sop Cop Nature Reserve, which boasts a rich flora and fauna system.

With its endless plum forests, fields of tea, dairy cows grazing leisurely on the immense green grass fields and beautiful natural landscapes, Moc Chau is certain to give you a very enjoyable holiday. — VNS

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