Northern Vietnam... Ha Giang to Dong Van
I woke up later than I wanted to, perhaps I was tired from the long ride from the previous day. I picked up some bread from the little bakery and headed down the road.
My objective for the day was to reach the town of Dong Van which is the northernmost town in Vietnam and a place where there is a colorful market on Sunday that is attended by many of the various hill tribe people. It is not well known by the backpacker crowd, and I actually discovered that it is not known by many Vietnamese. But my Vietnamese friends in Hanoi told me about it and encouraged me to try to visit it.
I encountered a million shades of green.
Away from the city I passed by village after village. The houses were no longer made of brick, but were made of wood and bamboo and elevated on stilts.
Rice fields as far as the my eyes could see. Some were deeply seeded and lushly green. Some were newly planted in orderly rows.
A panarama photo of the long and winding road.
Check out the video on youtube.
I was trying to ride swiftly because I did not know how long the Sunday market would last. But at the same time I wanted to stop and take a few photos of the beautify scenery and the twisty road. Truly it was a motorcyclist's dream.
While I was stopped on the road taking the previous photo, this man wearing the traditional clothing of the people in this area walked by. I waved hello to him and he waved hello back to me. I held up my camera to show him the photo that I had taken. He smiled with an assured smile as if to say... yes I live hear and yes it is beautiful.
I then asked him if I could take a photo with him. He nodded his head in approval. I reversed the camera on my iphone and snapped this photo. I showed him the photo. He smiled, then continued walking on his way.
Then this gentleman walked by with a look of curiousity.
I motioned for him to step close to me. He was skeptical. But then I stepped close to him and snapped this photo. I showed him this image and he burst out laughing. I don't know if it was the image of himself, the image of me or the image of this odd pair from opposites side of the world standing next to each other that was so funny. We both had a good laugh. He was walking in the same direction as I was riding so I motioned to him to ask if he wanted a ride. He nodded in agreement. I did not know how far he wanted to ride, but luckily it seemed that the road was going downhill. After rounding a few corners I saw a mid size town. I assumed that he was heading into the town.
I did not know exactly where my new passenger and friend wanted to go, but I just assumed that he would tap me on the shoulder when we arrived. He actually knew exactly where he wanted to go. He started to motion to me to turn right, then left, then right, then straight. I saw a gathering of people ahead of me in an area that looked like a market. When we arrived to a clearing I slowed down to a stop. There was a crowd of people staring at us. I'm guessing they the sight of a foreigner giving a local a ride to the market was just not a common experience. My friend jumped off, we exchanged smiles, then he disappeared through these gates into the market. I thought about following him in, but it was already getting close to noon time and I did not know how much further I needed to ride. So I turned my moto around, wound my way through the town and back onto the mountain highway.
The Sunday market had already come to a close. I had an indication that I might be late because as I was entering town, I saw many people leaving town. Oh well. Sometimes you roll the dice and you end up rolling snake eyes. There were a few people still lingering around.
It was just a reminder that an adventure should really be about the journey and not only about the destination.
So I checked in to the hotel and just kind of forgot to get the second visa.
The next day I rode around the hill country taking photos, then I would start to make my way South and West.