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Ha Giang is good for your soul 13 June 2011

Posted by uggclogs in Happiness, Travelling, Travels, Vietnam.
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Yes, we are back in Ha Giang. This is my third time. And I still haven’t had enough.

Last time we were in Ha Giang, I had a lot of things to deal with. I felt devastated and fragile. But the mountain passes shrouded in mist gave me time and space to process my emotions.

Today, we are back. And this time, the mist, which made everything mystical, beautiful, heavy and wet (and freaking scary when buses popped out of the mist in front of you) had lifted.

Imagine valleys stretching one after the other, each as different as the one before. One moon landscape, the next rice paddies. The next again limestone mountains full of caves, then valleys of corn waist high.

Meandering along steep mountain paths, alongside rivers bursting at the seams with clear, frothing water. Playful shades of fresh green mingling with more established leaves from yesteryear, fading into blue in the distance.

Hairpin turns along breathtaking drop-offs into nothingness.

Buffaloes and little black piglets keeping you on your toes.

And that does not even begin to describe Ha Giang.

Today, we rode 160 kilometres through cool, clean air, which after Hanoi onset of summer was a marvelous relief.

And then there’s the people. Little half-naked urchins with gigantic, black eyes, women in flashy coloured minority costumes with hoes slung nonchalantly over their shoulders, elderly men with missing teeth lounging on a plastic chair at the front of their house. And each one of them smiling, welcoming. Nods, smiles and waves.

The children sometimes run to the road when they see you coming, yelling “bye!!” as you pass.

How could this be but soothing?

I will never get enough of this place. It wins hands down every time. We discussed whether we should see a place we hadn’t been yet for our last domestic holiday in Vietnam, but the pull of the clear, tall mountains was irresistible.

If you get the chance, go to Ha Giang. It is not really on the tourist trail yet. And you might be better off with a motorbike, as it is so much fun. But if you are ok with that, and relatively hard beds, Vietnamese style, it is amazing.

Signing off from Dong Van. Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s installment, as we will attempt to move on to the next province, Cao Bang.