In a nice day after many hard day of devoting for works, I decided to pack my pack for a trekking Hoang Su Phi in the Northern most province of Ha Giang. I did not know what would be seen on the tour, but think of the vast terraced rice fields in yellow of matured grains, I was immediately excited. And the tour is a truly memorable experience in my life.
It was my very first journey to the Northwest region where I just heard about from books or media and imagined I will be there one day. The trip was really amazing which give me the chance to travel between the majestic nature; to directly see the remote rural village with struggle life of the rustic ethnic people as well as their diverse and special cultural identities; to be proud of ourselves after getting over and look back at the passing route with winding and struggling roads along the hills and mountains; and to be afraid of travelling in a dark night without electricity on the road with one side of mountain and the other side of abysses.
We departed from Hanoi at around 6 am and traveled directly to Vinh Yen where we had breakfast on a food shop on the road side. We then quickly kept moving to Viet Quang after passing the distance of 260 km. On the way, we faced with lots of pretty landscapes, especially the section passing Thung Khe Pass. It was regret that it was too dark to take any photos.
The next morning, our route was Viet Quang – Thong Nguyen – Hoang Su Phi – Xin Man Border Gate – Lung Phin – Ban Gia – Ta Cu Ty T conjunction – back to Xin Man with the total length of around 120 km. There are some sections of road that are really difficult to travel, but in compensation, the gorgeous views on the two road sides did make us forget all about the difficulties. We had stops after travelling for a distance to take a rest and take photos and to utter the compliments for the majestic and nice landscapes seen.
We took a rest and then continued the tour at around 2 pm. When the dark came and the moon appeared, we were all excited to stop and turned off all the lights of motorbikes and lay down on the street and on grass to admire the moon. It was an amazing experience to enjoy the full moon in a quiet space on a high mountain.
We then kept moving until 8 am but still not reached Xin Man. It turned out that we got lost and almost reached the border gate. In a dark and cold night, the surrounding areas are just high mountains and mountains. We then had no choice but travel back for nearly 30 km with our empty stomachs. Driving on a little bridge above the vast and deep abyss in such a cold and dark night make us all afraid.
Finally, we arrived at Pa Co Town and were moved to tear after passing a long and terrified journey. We saw some lights of human being with the sound of karaoke singing, of dog that made us hilarious with our hands raise up to cheer.
After being full of foods, we played card and then have a tight sleep as being quite tired. The next morning, we got up early to visit the village fair in Pa Co. The market is excited with colorful items. It is quite surprising that Western visitors also come to visit this remote mountainous market. I tried on the special dish of the locals called Thang Co with quite a strange taste which costs 70,000 VND. It was interesting experience to sit at the market, enjoy a special dish and watch for the local daily life with the ways they having meals, doing their business and leading their lives.
For many scenes that I thought I can only witness on TV, it was amazing that I can personally see and touch and feel. At almost midday, we got on bus to travel to Bac Ha on the road which is quite difficult to travel. Travel on the road at mountain sides, we can see whole view of Pa Co from above. We then traveled through the villages with lots of peach and plum trees.
It shall be amazing to come here in spring when the peach and plum flowers are in bloom coated the space with pink and white colors. The local children on the roadside were all surprised when seeing us driving motorbikes passing them. The road is challenging with one side of mountain and one side of abyss. The little winding dirt trail is really difficult to move as it is by no mean smooth.
We kept moving and arrived in Bac Ha. The surrounding landscapes remain majestic and beautiful that make us all surprised. I thought that I just stay in the little city of Hanoi without travelling to other regions, how can we see such a lot of gorgeous landscapes and get to know those new and interesting things about the life of the local ethnic groups.
The unique thing that made me disappointed for this time coming to Bac Ha is the market as it seems to be changed a lot. It is lack of the local ethnic identities. There are so many Kinh people doing business here due to the development of tourism in the region. Of course, there remain some typical performances made by the local ethnic people including the way of cutting meat. Around 4 or 5 large pieces of meat are putting together at many places at the market. The game is that you need to cut all of them in 1 cut. The winner shall get those meat back home and the losers who cannot get thing done in 1 cut need to pay some money for playing the game. The space was exciting with the acclaims of both locals and visitors.
The afternoon came, we left Bac Ha for Lao Cai in order not to miss the night train to Hanoi. We arrived at the station 15 minutes before the train starts. We booked ticket and quickly had 2 bowls of rice within 10 minutes so that we can have a sleep on the train. We did have a sleep on the train and arrived in Hanoi in the early morning next day. It was the end of an interesting and memorable tour.