And boy, this area is beyond beautiful.
The valley stretches out from the back of Thon Tha and Ha Tanh villages,
sweeping slowly up the mountain in terraced rice paddies. The views all the way up this valley are stunning panoramas, the rice seems to stretch out endlessly towards the sky.
Lung Vai village sits right at the top at about 1000m above sea level. There’s a road that snakes there from the new road though, if you’re in Hagiang area people will know the ‘new road’.
So when you say you want to go trekking in Thon Tha you usually get a call from Limh.
Limh couldn’t hurt a fly, he has a heart of gold and a little book of English phrases that he likes to test out on you. He has a few catch phrases: “No danger”, “Dao people, harvest rice”, “buffalo”.
Buffalo are scaredy cats really.
He took us up through the valley on a crazy hot day, so much so that we had to stop often and fill our bottles from the mountain springs, in fact I just drenched myself in water a few times to stay cool.
It was cold and fresh.
You know what they say, When in Rome… Do you think we’ve been here too long?
Lunch time saw us eat a traditional meal with the Dao people (pronounced Zao), here’s the view from their front door.
The rest of the trip was trekking through gorgeous rice fields and lush jungle.
I said goodbye to that t-shirt the other day, tear. Probably about time.
Coming down through the villages we saw a man embroidering in his house.
He was making this traditional Dao costume, and let us take a picture of it for 10,000 Dong.
He told Limh that it takes three months to make each one, the embroidery is absolutely incredible.
The second time we came on this trek we had lunch in this village, seeing as there are no homestays here, Limh had to ask a villager if she would mind if we came into their house and cooked the food that he’d brought. To our surprise they were more than happy to and they didn’t even want money. This is the grandma of the family, possibly great grandma, she is 98. She had black lacquered teeth, which is a sign of beauty and anti-culture, and chewed Betel leaves.
It was so nice to be invited into their home for nothing other than we needed somewhere to rest and eat. They were so welcoming and smiley.
All the local villages in the area have a satellite TV.
This area was key to the Chinese war, just after the Cambodian war, with Vietnam so there are a lot of unexploded mines. It was explained to us that we need to stay on the trodden paths by Mr Thien in Thon Tha village saying: “Buffalo” then making the international sign for explosion and a sound that a kid might make when they see a bomb going off in a film. Having said that, Thon Tha and Lung Vai aren’t as bad as farther towards the border in the frontier area.
To sit there and read a book, do some drawing, or listen to music. Somewhere to get some piece of mind. Maybe this hour trek kept us in the area for longer. There was a beautiful stream nearby as well.
Overall it was so nice to come back from our motorbike adventures and to know these environments and to exercise through the beauty.