Craving for a short holiday after hectic days and nights at work, and discover an idea of a great thing to do in Vietnam through conversation with my friend in Hanoi, Q. The idea was to explore the Northern most province of Vietnam, bordering China, with a rental motorbike for 3 to 4 days. The tourism here yet to get really mature and still developing, compare to the like of the neighborhood state of Sapa. However, those are the main criteria that attract me the most and should give it a GO! Initially it was a solo ride for me, with Q helping to give lots of information regarding how to touring on the province, but I glad at last she able to free up her schedule to tag a long with me throughout the journey! It was really good to have a friend fluent in Vietnamese throughout the province that almost occupied by ethnic minority that not speak too much English.
Meet up with Q in Hanoi, and have a little exploration via famous Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake before get ready for our sleeping night bus all the way to Ha Giang, that probably take up 6 hours journey. It was truly a unique bus, which almost all the normal seating chairs was removed and converted into flat sleeping beds, some even with double decker!
Buncha, pork soup with free flow of rice noodles and vegetable, as well as a plate of fried spring rolls.
Street view at old quarter area.
A kid passing through the Hoa Phong Tower.
The legendary Turtle Tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake.
You can only witness the beauty of this ancient structure by the lakeside as there was no boat or bridge that would take you to the middle of the lake.
Lý Thái Tổ King Memorial by the lake side.
The red bridge towards Temple of the Jade Mountain.
Gà36 famous roasted chicken before take on the night bus to Ha Giang.
Averagely it was still quite comfortable to be able to sleep flat along the journey, but just the space was too limited. We manage to reach Ha Giang at around 3:30 AM and we have to continue our rest in the bus until the morning, when Johnny, the boss of Johnny Nam Tram Motorbike Rental came to pick us up to his shop to choose our motorbike for the journey. Johnny was super familiar with the area and help us to route a recommended itinerary based on the number of days we allocate here.
It was many years back since I consistently riding a motorbike, hence it get quite nervous at start. However, since the beginning of the route was all the way flat road with not too much traffic, hence it was a good warm up to get thing familiar back and it wasn't too long to have the momentum recovered. It was all the way smooth except some landslide that required some wait time before we were allowed to pass through. The first challenge came when it start to descend all the way to Bac Sum pass, with certain parts of the road was very steep. We were offered with great view over the valley once we reach the highest point of the pass.
Good portion of Pho before the start of the ride today.
The valley that we drove through along the road.
It was rather challenging driving the uphill road to this height.
Found some friend on one of the grass there.
A small bee just wandering by itself over the world of nature.
Just around 10 KM after Bac Sum pass, we have a stop at Heaven Gate Cafe to have some refreshment and coffee break. The cafe was definitely great with reasonable price of beverages as well as offering a panoramic view upon the great valley of Heaven Gate! I met fellow Malaysian that having 3 weeks of motorbike journey from Hanoi to Ha Giang, and ended all the way south at Ho Chi Minh City! That was definitely a crazy plan but it definitely show how much they love riding a motor bike!
Continue the down hill for a little, keep it left and we take another stop at Quan Ba visitor center. The main purpose here was to have a little hike over a series of staircases, which offered you a absolutely great scenery view on the yellowish Tam Sơn village, and also a iconic trademark view here, the Fairy's Breast mountain a.k.a Quan Ba Twin Mountains.
The windy road at the Heaven Gate.
The scenery as view from the cafe.
A small hut for the farmers to take a rest during a working day.
Take a break witness the beauty of the surrounding with some great drinks tagging along!
Panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Beautiful scenery view of yellowish Tam Sơn village, and obvious Fairy's Breast mountain to the right of the photo.
Tam Sơn village supposed to be our rest point for the day, but since it wasn't too late in the evening yet and we think of visited few other places before make it back here to get an accommodation. We continue our journey pass Tam Sơn village, all the way to a weaving village of Lùng Tám, to visit the traditional linen industry here. Linen has been the center of life for people in Ha Giang province since long time ago, and the establishment of the industry here in Lùng Tám offering stable livelihood in the village by creating close to 150 jobs for the local. It was a fantastic experience understand how they making the fabric out from scratch, dyeing colors without chemical usage, and making beautiful garments out of it!
The senior workers at the Lùng Tám Linen Cooperative.
Younger teenager also very flaw in the sewing skill.
A senior elder showing us the traditional way of making the loom works using Spinning Jenny.
The video on how it was actually being done.
The way they used to make the linen to have a softer surface, by rolling the stone left and right consistently.
Visiting their finish products shop.
Shy kids on the village.
Variety of products available to be purchase here.
Younger kids were also helping with works in the shop.
Get our self some goods as souvenirs home!
Back to Tam Sơn village and its time to treat our hungry stomach some local dishes. There were quite a few eatery shops along the main street and we just randomly pick one shop to have some simple lunch. We then exploring nearby streets in order to look for a place to stay and decided with Dao Lodge home stay at Nam Dam village nearby which looked cleaner and the price was quite reasonable too.
Random eatery shop by the road side.
Common choices of fried rice and noodles.
Unknown fruits on the tree.
The exterior look of Dao Lodge.
We have few more hours to spend before the night approached, hence we decided to explore one more place nearby to Tam Sơn village, which was a masterpiece created by millennia of geological activies of Lung Khuy cave. It was a newly discovered cave here in Ha Giang just recently on 2015. The entrance fees was 50 Vietnamese Dong per person, and the cool weather inside while enjoying these stunning formations of stalactites and columns were simply astonishing!
We have simple pizza as our dinner via the home stay, while also having some good conversation with the local minority ethnics workers with Q help as translator, and get to know some of their ancestors were origin from China as well. However, most of the generation today not able to speak Chinese anymore but still able to do some writing somehow!
Today riding distance was around 100 KMs.
Starting our hike towards the Lung Khuy Cave.
The entrance towards the cave.
Stalactites with variety of shapes and types scattered all over the cave.
Just follow the staircase direction to wander in the cave.
It felt so cold inside which was so comfortable compare to the heat outside.
Just too dark inside for me to capture a bright photo.
The view of the valley just outside of the cave.
Beautiful paddy terrace over Quản Bạ village.
A unique pyramid look-alike mountain caught our attention.
Manage to return back safely to Dao Lodge before the sunset.