Indigo Girls

TUNGfoto / Flickr RF / Getty Images

Fancy a stroll on the terrace? Fields look lush, but farming families depend on tourism to make ends meet

In the northwest corner of Vietnam lives a vivacious mountain guide named Tung. Age 27 and single, she's almost a dinosaur by the marriage customs of her tribe, the Black Hmong, whose women wed as early as 14. On most days, all 127 cm of her are swathed in a traditional ensemble that she dyed herself using indigo, which she cheerfully says has turned her entire body blue.

Tung is one of many female guides working the Hoang Lien Son mountain range — the so-called Tonkinese Alps — home to hill...

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