The Xinh Mun tribe, like many of the other groups in the Son La province, are culturally similar to the larger Thai ethnic group. They are of Austro-Asian descent and still speak an indigenous language, which is unique to their tribe. Representatives from the Xinh Mun tribe can be found in both Vietnam and in central and upper Laos. Their village is tucked into the jungle and is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. It may be one of the last villages of its kind on the border of Laos. Since this village is in the frontier region of Vietnam, it is restricted, so I was not able to stay longer. During the day, the Xinh Mun village is quite empty because most people are working. Only the older women remain to take care of the children. In this very remote area of Vietnam, the majority of the townspeople had never seen a foreigner before and were surprised when I showed up.
Vi Thi Inh was born in 1916 and at 103 years old, she was busy cooking for herself and her grandson when I arrived. When she saw me she said “Vao trong nha (come in)” right away and seemed to take meeting a foreigner in stride. She was happy to pose for my camera and to speak about her life. The Xinh Mun build their houses on stilts set into the dense greenery of the hills. I loved this picturesque and authentic village and will definitely return.