Dong Khe Market
Dong Khe Market

Trekking in Dong Khe (Cao Bang)

For long I had been longing for a thorough exploration of the area between Cao Bang City and Lang Son City. It is the peaceful ethnic villages, small valleys amid thousands of mountain peaks which are so appealing to me. My several journeys through the area had been quite brief due to limited time.

 Mountains on the trek at Dong Khe
Mountains on the trek at Dong Khe

 Then came a time that I got some work in the area of Dong Khe Town (Cao Bang Province) and was determined to have at least a day going on my own adventure. It was autumn but it seemed winter had come earlier than usual. I woke up to a brisk morning with pleasant temperature and really fresh air. After breakfast, my local tour guide came and we quickly set out on the familiar route that I had trekked on a few times. This time, we’d head off in a different direction though.

A breathtaking view of the nature on the trek
A breathtaking view of the nature on the trek

 The trek brought us through a cluster of ethnic houses and some forest and, then upwards through several rugged mountain peaks. The deserted trails were mostly encroached by trees, local people wouldn’t take this path nowadays. It was mid day when we reached the vertical cliff with a tiny single path descending into a well-concealed valley. We stopped for a quick picnic lunch then made our descent.

A part of the valley on the trek
A part of the valley on the trek

 There were quite a few ethnic houses in this area. They valley had a single path running in between ranges of high mountains on both sides. It must have rained here last night that the path was extremely muddy and sticky. Sometimes I felt the soles of my shoes were about to detach. The sun had come out and was certainly of some help. Still it was nearly mid afternoon when we got out of the muddy area.

A mountain on the trek
A mountain on the trek

 

A concealed valley
A concealed valley

 

A muddy path in the valley
A muddy path in the valley

 

Ricefields in the valley
Ricefields in the valley

  A short transfer further brought me close to the Chinese border. The rice fields here looked so beautiful with bright tones in the afternoon sunshine. The villages, the rice fields, the mountain peaks of the border region looked so peaceful and idyllic.

Ricefields near the Chinese border
Ricefields near the Chinese border

 I got to the base of the Bao Dong Mountain when sunlight was weak and it was about to get dark. The steps to the top were very mossy and slippery which showed that it was not visited often. There were hundreds of mosquitoes welcoming my arrival that I had to put on the long-sleeved shirt before taking the ascent. 

A good road to the Bao Dong Mountain
A good road to the Bao Dong Mountain

 

Steep steps at the Bao Dong Mountain
Steep steps at the Bao Dong Mountain

 

A cave at the Bao Dong Mountain
A cave at the Bao Dong Mountain

 

The last ascent to the summit
The last ascent to the summit

  The path was steep and long and I was exhausted. But I made it to the top in less than 1 hour even to my surprise. The views from the top were definitely worth the efforts and it was lovely gazing at the jovial gathering of mountain peaks around.

A breath taking view from the Bao Dong Mountain, Cao Bang
A breath taking view from the Bao Dong Mountain, Cao Bang

Then sunlight became weaker and the air cooler; it was good time to go down and get back to the hotel. It had been a lovely day and I felt I had completed a part of my plan to explore Lang Son and Cao Bang.