The grandma of our host family.
The first day of our trek from Bac Ha to its surrounding villages provided us with deeply rewarding cultural experiences. We woke up the next day feeling energized and excited for the new experiences that lie ahead on our trek back to Ba Cha. But we were also bit sad knowing that we had to say goodbye to our wonderful host family. We only stayed with them for a night but we felt we knew them for a long time.
After sharing a hearty breakfast with our host family, it was time to say goodbye. We left as early as we could so as not to interfere with the family’s daily work activities.
Our guide Tihn, informed us that today’s trek would cover 12 kms of trails. We were delighted that it was 4 kms shorter than yesterday’s trek! But we realized later that we rejoiced too soon. The trail maybe shorter but it didn’t mean it was easier.
We passed by this Flower Hmong woman working in the field with her baby bundled on her back. Women in the villages seem to do the same physical work as men, but with extra loads on their back women’s work seems to be more challenging.
We reached a Flower Hmong Village, where we were surprised to see a road construction underway. They were actually paving the roads in this quaint hilltribe village? We also noticed some concrete modern buildings. According to Tihn, they were community centers built by the government, who is also funding the building of the roads not only in this village but in many other villages as well.
We wondered – do the hilltribe people welcome the road construction? Don’t they feel that this kind of development intrudes into their traditional, simple way of life? Tihn said, “they welcome it.”
We noticed more Flower Hmong women arriving on the scene. They seemed so excited, so eager.
And then the women started picking up tools and began working. We asked Tihn if these women were paid to work on the road construction. He said no, they were doing it on their own accord and it was their nature to pitch in. We guess that confirms how much they welcome the road development in their village. Maybe such development is to their advantage after all as it will make it easier for them to travel and transport their goods from point A to B.
Even this little guy with no pants was seriously hard at work!
And this little one was just hanging out on the mound of pebbles while intensely observing everyone at work. He seemed to sense a big change coming.
While we were observing the the road construction, more super Flower Hmong women came carrying roofing materials on their head!
From the village, we slowly climbed our way on the terraced fields tihat hugged the mountains in the area of Thai Giang Pho.
This was the magnificent view of the rice terraces as we climbed higher.
We were huffing and puffing but it was exhilarating to finally reach the top after a challenging climb and to be surrounded by such amazing landscape.
Oops…. Apprarently, there were more rocky and steep climb ahead. Tinh was saying, “C’mon guys, move it!
When we reached the top, we came across these two Flower Hmong girls gathering weeds. This must be some special kind of weeds for them to climb up this high to gather them.
Tinh advised that we take a break — as we needed more energy for more steep trail ahead! And so we rested our tired soles and took in the breathtaking vistas around us.
This was the spectacular landscape on one side.
And this was the lovely landscpade on other side. See that strip of orange-colored area close to the center? It will soon become a paved road. That view may still be beautiful but it will never be this pure.
Tihn was true to his words – there were more steep ascent.
As the climb got steeper and higher the reward of a view was even grander.
What comes up finally comes down!
The view from the other side of the mountain as we were descending.
What a well-dressed scarecrow!
We had fun crossing a river. This river was criss-crossing that we had to traverse it several times.
We passed by a another village. Seeing the clotheslines, it was easy to tell that it was a Flower Hmong village.
We passed by this school building. According to Tihn, it is a secondary school for the children in the hilltiribe villages. We then realized that we didn’t see much children on the trail today. It was a school day.
I was happy to learn that children in this area stay in school, unlike the kids in the area of Sapa who mostly leave school early to peddle trinkets to the tourists on the trails.
Some more picturesque view from the trail
Keith on the edge on the cliff. Behind him is the path that would take us back to Bac Ha. We were on the last few kms. of the trek and we have not come across any other trekkers nor have we been approached by any hawkers. It was a peaceful trail indeed.
Finally, we made it back to the town center of Bac Ha. It was so sleepy, so unhurried, a far cry from the bustling town we arrived in during the Sunday market.
First order of business in Bac Ha – to treat ourselves to a refreshing local beer!
And here we are with our excellent guide, Tihn. We thank him for making this trek a wonderful and memorable experience for us, for educating us about the culture and tradition of different hilltribe people, for making sure we were safe and for his friendship.
This post is included in the Travel Photo Thursday. Check it out to see more interesting travel photos.
Booking the Trek: We booked this trek through a company based in Bac Ha called Huang Vo Tours or BacHaTourist.com. It was highly recommended by Lonely Planet and we highly recommend it, too. Lonely Planet refers to its owner Mr. Nghe as a “one-one tourism dynamo.” He offers trek from one day to one week duration and only employs people who are from the local area. Our guide Tihn spoke highly of him and the good things he was doing for the community.
Getting there: We took an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. We arranged for a private transfer from Lao Cai to Bac Ha through BacHaTourist.com. With the improved roads, the drive took less than an hour. There is also a bus service between Lao Cai and Bac Ha.Trekking Tip: Our one regret was not bringing our trekking poles. Bring yours!