Li from the Hmong tribe

Welcome to the first of my ‘meet the locals’ blog. I want to share with you all the interesting people I meet along the way. After all, travelling is not just about seeing the sites, it is about meeting the people. 

Li from the Black Hmong tribe North Vietnam


Meet Li, a girl from a local tribe in the Hầu Thào valley, near Sa Pa, North Vietnam. I met Lee while visiting a local waterfall, her english was excellent and she was so sweet. I got chatting to Li and asked her if she would let me interview her, she agreed. Here is what she had to say:

Name: Li

Age: 13

Where are you from: Black Hmog (a local tribe near the town of Sa Pa, North Vietnam)

Do you have any siblings: “One older sister and one younger brother”

Where did you learn to speak English: “School” (Li’s english was very good, like a lot of the tribes people we had met, which was so surprising considering many people in Hanoi did not speak English).

How often do you go to school: “A few times a week”, Li told us that her school was in the next village. Li told us she has more than one school teacher. We found out from some other Hmong people that children will finish school around the age of 16. Primary school is free but school for older children costs money. If the family is poor, children might finish school early.

Is what you are wearing your traditional dress: No. This is from the Jay people I am from the Black Hmong. (The photo on the right show some other ladies from the Black Hmong in more traditional dress, like the lady sitting next to me. The things in their hands are what they are trying to sell).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is your house like: Li struggled to put this into words but we gathered that the house didn’t have windows. Later, she was kind enough to take us to her house and introduce us to her family. The houses are very simple structures. They have no windows to keep the warmth in, which is important as in winter as it gets very cold here. It even snows sometimes. There is no heating in the house. The floors are dirt. There is one main living area and then a couple of small rooms with beds to sleep in. Each bed had a mosquito net above it. Apart from the beds and one light in the living area, that was powered by solar, there was little else in the house. It is a very simple way of living.


Li’s house

What animals do you have: Chickens, pigs and buffalo

What do you normally eat: “Only rice, egg and meat” (probably some vegetables as well but I don’t think she knew this word)

What age do people here get married: “15 or 16 years old”

Do you get to choose who you marry: No. Parents pick who you will marry (some other Hmong people said sometimes you get to choose).

Where do you live once you are married: With the husbands parents.

Li at her house sewing with her family

Later at Li’s house she showed us a cross-stitch she was making. Her mum and family were also sitting around stitching. This is how Li’s family make a living (I am unsure if they have another source of income). Li told us it takes her about a week to sew a bag and we brought one for about $6 dollars! (shown below, one bag we brought from Li and the other from her mother, the bracelets were mostly gifts for buying things, we also brought a few).


Thank you Li for chatting with me and sharing a little about your life! We wish you all the best!








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