Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van Karst Plateau
Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van Karst Plateau

Motorbike Tour Ha Giang: Trip of Dreams Part 5

As I leave the restaurant after lunch, the gentleman shows me how to get to Dong Van via a back-road. I thank him for the information and for the great meal, then dash off into the fog that is getting thicker. It is about mid day now but the fog makes the atmosphere just like late in the afternoon. It is very cold, but luckily the air is very dry.


Back road to Dong Van at Ho Quang PhinBack road to Dong Van at Ho Quang Phin

 It is about 3km out of Lung Phin Township, the road forks: one to the right leads to Meo Vac, the other goes to Dong Van Town. I take the latter one which goes up slightly. To my right, it is high limestone mountains; the the left, the road passes a series of hanging valleys with clusters of houses. People must be at work or having siesta that I don't see anyone going about. The air is so quiet all around. It is amazing that there is no bird chirping sound around here. 

Back road to Dong Van at Ho Quang PhinMountains at Ho Quang Phin

  Then I come across a small house in the middle of nowhere. The house looks new and does not have either wooden doors or wooden windows just yet. It is normal here that newly married couple get a new house for themselves after the wedding. To prevent cold wind from entering into the house, the owners put up sacks covering the openings. People here are poor and I'm sure it would take them some years to complete their house and furnish it. I hope that does not stop them from having happiness that they should deserve...

Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van A little house at Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van Karst Plateau

  When I am about ready to get on my motorcycle and move on that my eyes catch a scene that makes me feel really hurt. There are two little girls collecting grass by the road side. The younger one, who is clad in a thin short shirt and a short skirt, is about 3-4 years old. She starts crying and running away upon seeing me. The older one, clad in a long-sleeved shirt and a  long pair of pants, is about 5-6 years old. She is busy fastening a bundle of grass and shrub plants. It is Tuesday today and it is a bit over mid day. I don't know if there was any class for them in the morning, or will be one in the afternoon; and I do not know if they have got or will have lunch at all? Here I am with piles of warm clothes on me trembling in the cold. There is something not right about this world. I feel like having tears in my eyes...

Little girl at Ho Quang Phin, Dong VanLittle girl at Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van



Girl at work at Ho Quang Phin, Dong VanA little girl at work at Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van

  The road continues upward. After I pass a mountain gorge, the view of the road ahead and the mountains around is scenic. By the road side, there is a mother and child having a rest. They seem to be having a great time enjoying the landscape around. They must be living somewhere nearby and I am not sure if they enjoy the scenery as much as travellers like me do? In road in the front settles down slightly and my journey goes on with a smooth ride through the limestone mountains.

Mother and child at Ho Quang Phin, Dong VanA mother and her child at Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van

 After a turn, there is a school with red roofs and yellow walls. There is no one inside. It is a weekday today and it is about 01:00 P.M now. It may be that they have classes in the morning only. I often hear that teachers have huge difficulties persuading ethnic families to allow their kids to go to school in mountainous regions in Vietnam. Parents normally want their kids to work only; they do not see the benefits of education. It is hard to change their mindset which is passed on from generation to generation, given that their life has been grabbed in poverty. Kids normally want to go to school instead of toiling in family's farms. I have also heard of some heart-touching stories about ethnic kids' passion for learning that they put up tents near their school and take care of their own life while away from family... 

A school at Ho Quang Phin, Dong VanA school at Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van

  Riding for a while further, I stop my motorcycle and have a coffee break. My flask was refilled at the restaurant after lunch and the coffee is still steamy hot. For my long day adventures by motorbike, coffee is indispensable. It brings me warmth in the cold, refreshment when I am tired and inspiration for creativity. While I'm absorbed in the tranquility, there is a brightly dressed Hmong lady walking on a mountain trail. Her colorful clothes bring great decoration to the gray limestone mountains...

Lady at Ho Quang Phin, Dong VanA brightly dressed lady at Ho Quang Phin, Dong Van

 The road goes flat for a while and I suddenly see some new buildings in the front. There is a sign informing the visitors that this is Sinh Lung Commune. With the good infrastructure, this will turn into a township, then a town some time in the future. I could see some the public clinic, education center, administration buildings...The life of the local population is definitely getting better here then...

Sinh Lung, Dong VanSinh Lung, Dong Van

 The road from Sinh Lung goes up steeply and I could feel the change in the altitude. My ears keep popping, the wind gets stronger and the fog is thicker. When I arrive at Ta Phin Commune, the fog is so thick that my jacket is wet and the houses down the valley are barely seen. The weather is getting worse and I think it's better to move onto Meo Vac for the night. I have been to Dong Van and do not want to spend much time here again in bad weather...

Ta Phin, Dong VanTa Phin, Dong Van