3 days trek in Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang - part 3
- on Jan 21, 2020       By: BN
Third day of the trek in Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
This morning, the weather is misty... A long and beautiful descent on a narrow path shared with a few motorcycles, leads us to Nam Ai village...
It is market day on the main street and we meet many black Dao who go back to their villages, hoods filled.
After a few purchases for the midday meal, including bananas and oranges, we follow a road for a few kilometres then branch off to enter the idyllic scenery of a small side valley and continue to a pass by a dusty track... The guide suggests either continuing on a road or taking paths in the mountains... It seems that the path is more direct!
After the frugal but comforting meal taken in the shade of large bamboos which collide under the effect of the wind, we find that it more difficult for us to recover. The bright sun could encourage a good nap, but the day is not over... The chosen path descents and climbs through rice fields on the second floor and particularly isolated dwellings. Solid qualities of adaptation are necessary to live thus between rice fields and dense forests.
At this altitude, we meet the flower Hmong and some red Dao who cultivate rice and pick tea leaves on the slopes. A speciality of this high region to discover! In season, the tea leaves, picked according to rigorous quality criteria, are transported in large bags to small sorting, drying and packaging units located nearby in the valley.
The region is famous for the "Tra Shan Tuyet"... It means snow tea, picked between 1000m and more than 2000m altitude on trees some of which are 2000 years old and more! A long and steep path becomes less dangerous and acrobatic thanks to the presence of bamboo that takes us back on the route...
Another hour of walking on a broken track to reach the bottom of an isolated valley with a beautiful late afternoon light...
Tonight I am sleeping again at the Red Dao, a family that lives in isolation in the cold mists of late autumn. Despite this cold which easily crosses the walls made of disjointed planks and makes the house freezing, I receive an attentive and warming welcome, drinking several glasses of rice alcohol during the particularly abundant and festive meal. It seems that when you love something, you don't count! Then, I quickly go up to take refuge under the duvet, forgetting to fold the mosquito net! It doesn’t matter because I’m sure the cold drove them to milder horizons.
Another beautiful day in contact with these ethnic groups who came from China several centuries ago and who sculpted these mountains to make them the works of art that are their rice terraces.
To be continued
Text and photo: Marcel Labretelle