A Thai Community at Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Motorbike Trip to Pu Luong - Part 2

I didn't sleep well and woke up at 2 or 3 in the morning. It was not that the cocks in the village were having a crowing race in the early morning. That was strange because everything else was perfect. The temperature was pleasant and the bedding was comfortable. Everyone in the family was deep in sleep. I kept lying in bed and dozed off for some time...

It was bright light when I woke up again. The gentleman was having tea by himself and his wife was cooking sticky rice in the kitchen. The smell was so good. Phuc told me that I should have breakfast with the family and bring along some sticky rice for the day. I thanked him and his wife, and said I still got some bread left which was enough for the day. Besides, it would not be good to ride on a bumpy road with a full stomach. They were so kind people.

pu luong hang village home
Homestay at Hang Village at Pu Luong

I got a tea with him and said I'd better leave early as there were many places I wanted to visit. The lighting was good enough that I got a few photos of the inside of the house that I had missed yesterday. Then, it was time to bid farewell after exchanging our contact details.

Homestay at Hang Village
Homestay at Hang Village

 

The outside of the homestay at Hang Village
The outside of the homestay at Hang Village

It was another beautiful day in Pu Luong with clear sky. The temperature was extremely pleasant, given it was in mid winter and it was in the mountains. I rode around the village to have a better feel of it and got back to the potholed road for the journey through the nature reserve. If it had rained, it would have been very treacherous traveling here with the sticky clay soil and slippery surface.

The Hang Village, view from the road
The Hang Village, view from the road

The sun was very bright, the sky blue and the patches of forest just green. There were small Thai communities scattered along the road. After a couple of hours, I arrived at Kho Muong Village, a little Thai community in a hidden valley. The little path to the village was small and steep. It would have been horrible getting down here in a rain. While I was wondering what to do next then a middle-aged man came up and asked if I needed some help. His family also provided visitors with homestay service. After a brief conversation, Nam - the man invited me into his home.

The forest at Pu Luong Nature Reserve
The forest at Pu Luong Nature Reserve

 

A terrace amid forest at Pu Luong
A terrace amid forest at Pu Luong

Nam's family had two houses on stilts adjoining each other. They were huge. Nam said his family had visitors stay every now and then. He asked to take me around to visit the valley and the cave. It was a pity as it was early and I wanted to move on. I told him that I'd come back and stay in his home on another trip, I didn't have time on this one.

Road to Kho Muong Village
Road to Kho Muong Village

 

Road to the secret valley at Kho Muong
Road to the secret valley at Kho Muong

 

The homestay at Kho Muong
The homestay at Kho Muong

Leaving Kho Muong, I got some more time on the little uneven mountain road. Then the road went down leading me into a big valley with flat terrain. It was the little township of Pho Doan on the way that I could refill the tank and kept on the journey to the mountains ahead. I was trying to get to the village of Kit which was high in the mountain but wasn't sure if I could do that. All would depend on the road condition...

A Thai village near Pho Doan Township
A Thai village near Pho Doan Township

The road in this big valley was newly paved and was excellent. It was only when I left the valley and climbed the gradient leading to the mountains, it started getting bad. They were expanding the road to villages high in the mountains and I had to struggle to get past the mounts of soil blocking the soft-surface path for a few kilometers. Once arriving at Cao Hoong Village, I thought it'd be better to come back. It was not possible to travel further. The sun was strong and it was very hot.

Road to Cao Hoong Village
Road to Cao Hoong Village

 

 

Road to Cao Hoong Village
Road to Cao Hoong Village

Going back was no easy task either that I consumed all the bread and water left. I made it back to Hin Village in mid of the afternoon and decided to have the night here. A villager pointed to a big house by the paddy field and told me it was the house of the chief of the commune where I could stay for the night. I proceeded to the front yard and was invited into the house by a young woman. She said her father in law was at work and would be back in late afternoon, and that I could stay with her family and showed me where to leave my luggage. She made tea for me and asked me to feel at home as she had to attend to her little baby.

Paddy field at the Hin Village
Paddy field at the Hin Village

 

 

Homestay at the Hin Village
Homestay at the Hin Village

I got some time for refreshment by the tea. When the light started getting a bit weaker I came out and told the lady that I wanted to climb the mountain and should be back before dinner. She wished me luck and reminded me that it would be dangerous if I got lost in the mountains.

Mountains at Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Mountains at Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Struggling for a while, I found a little path that locals used to get to the top of the mountain for their work. If I could climb to the other side of the mountain, then it'd be the Thung Khe Pass in Hoa Binh Province that I passed yesterday. There was no way I could do that today though.

Sunlight was very mild and the breezes were great. The summer heat at mid day was replaced by the pleasant autumn-like weather pattern now. I felt so calm and relaxed hiking up along the uneven path. I wasn't trying to make any record, just did it as long as I felt comfortable and stopped every now and then to take in fresh air and look mindlessly at the mountains around. It was so peaceful!

Dusk in the mountains at Pu Luong
Dusk in the mountains at Pu Luong

The sun had set behind the mountains before I realized that it was good time to go down. It was quite dark when I reached the house again. Everyone was back home. I said hello to them all and got a brief conversation with the father before he urged me to get refreshed for dinner.

I was quite embarrassed that the family got a feast for me. The father said he worked far from home and would come back only once or twice a week and it was normal to have a family party each time he was at home. The father and the son were good drinkers and I got so pissed after the meal that I hardly slept the whole night.

I felt relieved when the family got up early in the morning and someone started the cooking fire in the kitchen. The father got up some time later. He asked me to have some tea with him but I said we both should have the coffee that I brought along. He laughed when I told him that I couldn't sleep due to heavy drinking and next time he should forgive me not to drink at all.

After a conversation by the coffee with the host, I thanked the family and left early. The weather seemed to have changed dramatically today. There was a new spell of cold monsoon that it was getting cooler and foggy.

Countryside in Thanh Hoa Province
Countryside in Thanh Hoa Province

 

 

The Ma River at Canh Nang Township
The Ma River at Canh Nang Township

 

Breakfast at Canh Nang Township
Breakfast at Canh Nang Township

For over 2 hours or something I traveled through the countryside of Thanh Hoa Province that got stubbly fields and mountains all along the way. The road was small but fairly good and the traffic was quiet. It would have been great to have more time as the landscape was beautiful, the weather was changing for the worse though.

Stubbly fields at Thanh Hoa
Stubbly fields at Thanh Hoa

It got very windy when I reached the Ho Chi Minh Road at Thach Thanh District. It was very cold too. The clouds looked heavy and it rained when I was close to the area of Cuc Phuong National Park. The strong winds made it very difficult to ride.

Ho Chi Minh Road near Cuc Phuong National Park
Ho Chi Minh Road near Cuc Phuong National Park

The rain stopped when it got to the area between Hoa Binh Province and Hanoi. The winds were still strong and it was dry and cold. The light meal I got on the suburb of Hanoi helped me a lot to make it home at mid of the afternoon. The weather was so nice 2 days ago when I left and now it was strong winds, dry and cold when I was back home!