We arrived in Dong Van at 10am after a 5 hour bumpy local bus ride from Ha Giang province. Dong Van is small and sleepy. We had a very good and incredibly strong coffee and some lunch before we met up with Ha and her friend for the ride to Lung Cu, the northern most point in Vietnam. This is a very important place for Vietnamese people.
We were the only tourists on this road and locals were a bit surprised to see us. The road is narrow and hugs the steep mountain side, curving charmingly through the hilly landscape.
The Matterhorn in Vietnam. The scenery up here is very versatile and something new and equally impressive is just around each sharp corner.
We needed a special permit / certificate in order to have permission to venture this far north. 250’000 Vietnamese Dong sorted this problem out for us. The border conflict between China and Vietnam in this region only ended in 1990.
The roads are sparse, the towns scattered, the tourists absent and the beauty everywhere. This is the single most amazing and beautiful place we have visited so far and it has definitely claimed a special place in my heart. It has been days, but I already miss it.
Explorer selfie, because we just have to take one every now and then.
The entire ride brought new scenery, landmarks and surprises. I did not stop grinning the whole way. The local people are simply going about their day and are not particularly interested in us, sometimes more surprised to see tourists.
The road took us to just a few hundred meters from the Chinese border and then to Lung Cu, the northern most point in Vietnam. This is a special place to visit for locals. Vietnamese are very proud people and I think this giant flag right at the border to China just reaffirms that. The towns around the area are littered with Vietnamese flags and an air of patriotism.
It is huge. The scenery around Lung Cu is breathtaking.
Two local guys wanted to also pose for a photo with me. The more remote we go the more I seem to get asked to feature in people’s travel photos.
It was the perfect time to visit. Hardly any other visitors and the beautiful afternoon sun. Although it was hot.
I mean just look at it! It is hard to capture the sheer scale of the mountain ranges surrounding the small hill with the flag. As far as the eye can see and 360 degrees around us featured scenery like the above. Beyond some of those closer hills is where China begins.
Of course it doesn’t stop there and the flag pole itself is a spiral staircase you can climb up in. It takes you to the dizzying height where the flag is fitted and provides an even higher perspective of the spectacular landscape around it.
Around 4pm the sun was starting to light just parts of certain ridges. The cloud cover omitted sunlight from other parts of the scenery, making for some awe-inspiring photo opportunities. We took many.
It is like a miniature model of a place in our dreams. One of the few areas in Vietnam that hasn’t been colonised by the tourism industry.
There are still traditional building methods in use, however a fair amount of houses are now built using more modern techniques such as bricks and concrete.
Not bad, considering most of these shots were taken from the back of a moving motorbike. There is an art to it and I think Emma has mastered it!
This is the closest I have found to Switzerland in SE Asia. However the mountain shapes here are very creative. We spend our primary school years being told not to draw mountains with successive round tips, however here, this is exactly what you can see. Certain shapes made me wonder if Someone had made a mistake, maybe as an in-joke to other terraformers.
We saw them carrying all kinds of goods and most of them were very smiley.
On the way back I thought that we still had the Ma Pi Leng pass to Meo Vac ahead of us and wondered how it could possibly beat today – somehow it did.
There is no place quite like it in Vietnam. Untouched and beautiful. I won’t forget our time in this region. This has managed to break through my travel wall and given me new desire to explore and find similar places elsewhere.