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With the Longs I took an overnight train to Sa Pa, a village in the mountains near the border with China, and spent a long weekend there.

A popular retreat during the warmer months during French colonial times, Sa Pa has undergone a resurgence with the recent tourist boom.

"You buy from me?" H'mong woman and girls selling hand-embroidered textiles in the market of Sa Pa.

Like the most of the mountainous areas in Southeast Asia, this region is the home of several different ethic groups, each with its own distinct language and customs.

Tourists in Sa Pa often find themselves surrounded by dauntingly persistent H'mong and Dao market women selling lovely hand-embroidered shirts, pillow cases and jackets.

It is hard to buy something from one without being persuaded to buy from others. Now that I'm home I only wish I'd bought more.

H'mong girl by a dentist's office in Sa Pa.

The H'mong here did not suffer the devastation visited on their cousins in Laos, who sided with the losing side during the "American War." That does not mean that there are not tensions between the "hill tribes" and the majority Kinh (a/k/a Vietnamese) ethnic group, who dominate the lowlands.

Two very friendly young H'mong traders in the Sa Pa market.

Behind them is a Kinh shopkeeper. Once an open-air affair run by the H'mong, the market was recently shifted by government fiat to a series of concrete halls, and is now dominated by Kinh.

The younger daughter, with an elegant version of a H'mong basket, in the courtyard of the Victoria Sa Pa Hotel.

The Victoria, part of a chain co-owned by the government and a French hotel management company, is the most elegant hotel in Sa Pa and features world-class amenities.

H'mong girl selling homemade mouth harps.

Wrapped in brightly colored cloth sheaths, these simple but elegant instruments each have a different pitch and intonation.

H'mong children carrying firewood along a road near Sa Pa, north Vietnam.

Dennis and daughter with a group of H'mong women on a road south of Sa Pa.

In the background is a mother from the majority Kinh, which is becoming increasingly numerous in the mountainous areas once exclusively inhabited by minorities.

Dennis Long giving a ride on a mountain bike to a Red Dao ('zow') girl near Sa Pa, northwestern Vietnam.

One the most numerous of Vietnam's many ethnic minorities, the Dao mostly live along the Vietnam-China border. The women keep long locks of hair tied up in elaborate turbans.

Tay mother and children in the hills near Sa Pa.

Another group living in the area, the Tay tend to live lower down in the valleys than the H'mong, who traditionally prefer the most remote and inaccessible elevations.

Tay girl carrying firewood, resting by a fallow paddy field.

She has carried the wood down from far up in the hills. Deforestation is a major problem in the mountainous areas of Vietnam.

Lynel and daughter talking to Tay women carrying firewood down a step mountainside near Sa Pa, north Vietnam.

Lynel wrote her dissertation about related ethnic minorities living in refugee camps in Thailand, and speaks several of their languages. Her daugher is fluent in Vietnamese (as well as French and German).

Watermill in a Tay village south of Sa Pa.

Water from one of the many nearby streams has filled the hollow tree trunk, which has begun to tip down, spilling its contents. This causes a beam inside the hut to rise.

Inside view of a watermill in a Tay village.

As the empty trunk outside snaps back up again, the beam with its attached pestle thumps down on the grain in the large mortar.

Tay woman outside her home in a village near Sa Pa.

The thatched-roof cottage has a well-swept dirt floor and minimal furniture--a few small stools, hammocks in a corner.

A stack of sugar cane next to a roadside shop.
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