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The Spring Harvest Festival

My experience living with Baiyue tree society, and the many surrounding tribal groups. As a first time traveler from Canada, I didn't know what to expect from the rural communities in northern Vietnam. I didn't expect it to have such a deep and impactful on me and my way of thinking. From the first time I stepped foot in the community I felt the deep tradition and the people's connection with their history. What made me fall in love with the place is the people! The kindness and generosity was something I don't typically witness in Canada, (at least during the frost bitten months).

On my first day, i was able to witness a traditional ceremony that looked like something out of a Stanley Kubrick movie. It was a celebration for the opening season in spring. With the hand woven clothes and hats it was apparent that this culture is still in touch with its 3023 year old heritage. In fact, they literally are still in contact with some of the oldest tea plants in the world. Some plants being over a thousand years old. I saw this connection portrayed through traditional events like pole push. Pole push is a competition between two members of the group. They draw a circle on the ground, and go in the middle with a stick touching both their stomachs. They then try to force the other out of the ring. It is one of the most entertaining and impressive things I have ever seen!

I was also amazed by the taste and healing properties of the Baiyue tea. They have over 10 different types of tea. Which differ based on what altitude they are grown at. My favorite was the Pu Ehr tea. It’s a post-fermented tea from the Dayeh tree that originated between 25-220 BCE. The taste is mildly sweet with a bit of a kick. But my favorite part of the tea was the warm sensation that washed over you while drinking. You instantly feel the healing benefits, and get the sense you're taking part in a practice that has been used for thousands of years. You may feel slightly tired after that's normal. It just means the tea is working its magic!

What truly blew me away more than anything else was the people ! How truly genuine and kind they were was a shocking experience. Especially as a westerner. From spending time teaching English to kids or sitting by a campfire having tea. You can really feel how amazing and genuine these people are! The way they laugh and play keep up on the street is something you may never experience in the west. A truly fun and enjoyable experience i will never forget

After my time in northern Vietnam with the people the tea and the culture. I don't think I can ever look at the world the same again. Honestly, life changing is the best way to describe it. I feel like my experience at Baiyue tea farm is like a tattoo. You may not be able to see it, but you definitely feel like you've changed.

Blake Cory Volunteer Workaway.


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