It was a foggy morning and we decided to abandon our bike for a while, and have a morning hike to Don Cao Fortress located on a hill next to Dong Van town center. It was a fortress build by the French in 1925 as observation tower to surrounding area and stronghold to defense from military invasion by the local forces. The path walk through few houses and all the way narrow uphill path with stony surface, almost impossible to get lost along the way. The fortress was basically abandoned but there was few folks still working on some machinery here. The best reward was no doubt the panoramic view over Dong Van and its surrounding from top of the fortress hill, it was just simply magnificent! Definitely must do if you visit Dong Van for sure!
Based on the MAPS.me reference, the fortress should be on the top of this hill.
Q ready for the morning hike with her multi purpose sneaker.
Not a very tough hike, probably around 15 minutes we reached the entrance to the fortress.
Wandering around the abandoned fortress, and very smelly too...
Spectacular view from the Don Cao Fortress!
Flew my drone as high as possible to capture the most out of it along with Dong Van township.
The blur hilly range towards the direction of Ma Pi Leng Pass, it just look like a majestic painting artwork.
The road that we will follow later on the day.
The paddy terrace was indeed iconic piece of attractions in Ha Giang.
A maze of paddy terrace.
The variety of colors and borders was simply astonishing.
The city center of Dong Van.
Don't miss the hike if you were here in Dong Van!
We have Pho at a local restaurant after a very satisfying morning activity, and hop on our bike and continue our journey. It was a steep climb all the way since leaving the town of Dong Van and I truly glad we have the bike fixed earlier, else we won't make it cross the stretch here for sure somehow. The curly road lead to a very striking monument to the right on the road, which was the famous Youth Monument that remembering the youth volunteer's efforts in building the 185 KM long 'Happiness Road' all the way from Ha Giang city to Meo Vac town in a stretch of 5 years time until 1965. The 24 KM over Ma Pi Leng Pass was the toughest part among the entire road. As the name 'Happiness' describe, the completion of the road led to immense happiness of the ethics group of peoples that lived in isolation for generations, by improving the life of local people and brightening future of the children. They will always be remembered for their blood and sweat shed.
Great Pho as breakfast to boost up the energy for the ride today!
Can start to see the Nho Quế River while riding along Happiness Road.
Youth Memorial the youth's efforts in building the 185 KM long 'Happiness Road' in Ha Giang.
The road that we went through all the way from Dong Van to the Youth Memorial spot.
We supposed to start the stretch of 'Happiness Road' through Ma Pi Leng Pass, but was somehow attracted to a narrow off route that seem to be leading the way to a place called Sky Path. Our curiosity decide to pay a visit to the place, and it brought us all the way up through a super narrow and steep road until we reach a small village, with only few houses around. It seem that a even narrower path to the left leading the way to Sky Path, and we have a choice to either park our bike and walked over, or simply just ride through it. With full confident, I decided to ride it through, and the experience simply become the most adventurous ride I ever experienced throughout my life! The trail barely fit two bike simultaneously, and it was just next to a cutting edge cliff just next to the path, without any protection at all! Yes, simple mistake and we might be at the foot of the cliff! Truly outrageous decision to ride on it but it for sure become the one of the most unforgettable experience for me!
I am glad we make the call at that time to ride on this scary route.
Even with both my hands and legs shaking along the way...
I ride very carefully along steep cliff until we came to a rocky limestone hill with few motorbikes parked at its foot. We heard some noise coming from top of the hill and it seem we can did some minor hiking here. Those are fellow travelers with some local guides and they keep mentioning the view from top was simply marvelous. We did our hike step by step very cautiously as the trail itself was quite a challenging one. Not a very long hike, probably just around 15 minutes but the view towards the Sky Path and the endless wave of mountain range along the legendary Ma Pi Leng Pass was simply astonishing. Truly a must to do sub-route when you are visiting Ha Giang for sure!
Slowly make out way back to main road through the Sky Path once again and meet a big group of western travelers try to walk their way into the path. Since they saw us riding a bike from the path, they trying to know if it was feasible to ride the bike in, and I give them an answer, ride the hell in, you won't regret! But just have to be extremely careful!
The view on the area from where we parked our motorbike.
Partially hike up the small limestone hill, but where these guys going down to?
The view on the limestone hill just opposite the one we hike, and the Sky Path route circulating it.
Truly fearless for doing that...
The view from the peak of the small limestone hill that we climbed, with the Sky Path to the left and main QL4C road in the middle.
The view towards the Ma Pi Leng passes and Nho Quế River located some where down there deep into the valley.
Can you spot us from this aerial photo?
The wind was too strong and I can't barely control the drone well from the small peak.
Q wants to have a shot from the iconic cliff as well... I seem too old for that level of adventure nowadays...
The road along legendary Ma Pi Leng Pass make us feel how small we were compare to the world of nature. We can start to see the iconic view along the Ma Pi Leng Pass on the road, which was the Nho Quế River view deep down towards Tu San Canyon, which was also known as deepest canyon throughout South East Asia with depth at about 800 meters. The total length of this marvelous route was probably 1.7 KM but we truly enjoy the slow ride and just keep on having minor stop along the way, until I saw a coffee shop, Ma Pi Leng Panorama Coffee by the road side. Its time to for another coffee break!
Built just by the cliff at the iconic location, for sure we were expecting a great view point that we can sit and enjoy the Nho Quế River and Tu San Canyon combo, and it definitely exceed our expectation! The drinks were little bit over price but I do not have complaint at all with the advantages it offered. We spend great time enjoying our drinks, at the same time, the otherworldly viewpoint that simplify astonishing although the color of the river wasn't the iconic natural green that I truly wish for.
The iconic road that seem cutting through the mountainous range here in the middle.
The Nho Quế River, but wasn't in that trademark natural green color, probably because of some rain water.
We probably can have a very good viewpoint from the road on that opposite site.
And the balcony seat on Panorama Coffee was just astonishing!
Pairing with some icy drinks, it was a perfect pit stop.
Close up view on the Nho Quế River along Ma Pi Leng Pass.
That was the downhill road that we rode through earlier, truly not recommended for amateur rider.
Towards the dam side of the river that control the flow.
The panorama view on one of the deepest canyon in South East Asia here was truly amazing!
Panorama Coffee, they for sure name their shop perfectly and I am totally agree with it!
Following QL4C road for a while after exiting from Ma Pi Leng Pass, we quickly reach Meo Vac township, and it was already afternoon already! We spend whole morning effectively since departed from Dong Van until Meo Vac which was just around 20 KM away. Q chose a random eatery shop in the town, and it definitely was a great one, especially the juicy pork!
I checked on the distance towards Du Gia from Meo Vac, it was roughly around 70 KMs, but since it wasn't riding on the main QL4C road anymore, and the route seem required to pass through quite a number of high mountain passes, we decided to move early after the lesson learned a day earlier while travelling to Dong Van.
The first half of the road was truly not in good condition at all, with some of the part even damage heavily, hence we have to go slowly most of the time. But since there was nothing much to see all the way to Mậu Duệ, hence it seems that we were still good in our time management today.
Vegetable in soup, simple and healthy.
Stir fried beef with mushroom.
This juicy pork was out of this world!
Still very long road to go.
Q finding a good spot to snap some great photo.
Zigzag road downhill route.
Unexpectedly, after the series of hike all the way uphill from Mậu Duệ, it offered us with one of the most beautiful paddy terrace view I ever witnessed in my life! It was an open area with truly wide views all over the deep valley, and also the road that we went through all the way up to the highest passes of the road. It truly make me have that feeling staring on these magnificent view from here, make me want to shout out load, 'I am the King of the World!'
Luckily we truly departed earlier that we planned originally from Meo Vac, as we did spend hell lots of time wandering around this high passes with gorgeous view point!
The curly road that we went through until this high pass with spectacular view!
Close up view on the paddy terrace, simply astonishing.
It must be superb if we were able to stay at the house in the middle of the paddy terrace.
Perfectly crafted paddy terrace.
Looked like a helipad there?
To the other side of the view from high pass.
We were so high up and the photo taken on the paddy terrace here feel like a drone shot.
Q snapping photo with phone, wearing her Faceless helmet.
It was already close to sunset when we reached Du Gia, and I still can remember the first impression I have on it was the super beautiful and yellowish paddy field, with its surrounding, after we descend for a while all the way from high passes! It was the best and warm welcome for sure from a very small village, but surprisingly crowded with foreign tourists. Our original plan was to visit a waterfall upon reaching the village, but the sky already turned dark when we done checking in to a dormitory. Well, we weren't disappointed at all as we have our time well spent on the right place in our opinion. We can have the visit to the waterfall next morning, not an issue at all.
Planning was always good, but surprises like this that came unexpectedly was truly something very special!
The distance covered today was around 90 KMs.
A small village on the road before reaching Du Gia.
Astonishing yellowish color upon reaching Du Gia!
A lone tree and paddy field.
Thanks for the perfect welcome to us here!
Welcome to the small village of Du Gia.