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Published: December 5th 2009
I was interested in the scenery and feel of Northwest Vietnam. Initially, I had planned to tackle the Northwest with a rented motorbike. The cost of that seemed too high, so I went with the cheapest option-public bus. Public bus can be kind of fun in Vietnam, squeezed in a vehicle that is always overloaded, sometimes someone sitting on your lap, there develops a comradeship among the passengers. If you have anything to eat, you share. It won’t be very neighborly just sitting there eating and not sharing with these close neighbors.
My ride from Sapa to Dien Bien Phu started out all right, I actually had a full seat, but, it soon went down hill. I was in an oversized van, in the front passenger seat which holds three people, with a man, women and baby and me. We hadn’t moved 200 meters when both the Mother and baby started throwing up. This is not uncommon as it seems the Vietnamese aren’t all that used to riding in a vehicle. Throw up bags are always provided. We were lucky, they were throwing up and not me. They were the polite, quiet type of barfers,
I make a sound
like some martial art war whoop. I was concerned that she would become dehydrated. I offered her water and she refused. She offered me an orange, I ate it. She rode with us nine out of the 10 hour trip, regularly throwing up. They actually could walk off the bus.
As stated, I wanted to travel across the Northwest by motorbike to properly photograph the region and get the feel
of the land. I severely limited my ability to photograph the area going by bus. Most of my photos are taken out the window and at the stops we made at construction sites, they were usually fixing landslides. Furthermore, at Muong Lay the government is developing what will be the largest hydroelectric station in Southeast Asia. For miles upstream they are doing construction work. I had a hard time really figuring out what they were doing. Whatever they are doing they are moving a lot of dirt and rocks.
I wanted to get a feel
of the land because of my next destination, Dien Bien Phu. Dien Bien Phu is the site of one of the historic great decisive battles of all time. Most of the travel literature plays down
Dien Bien Phu as a place where there is not much to see. I beg to differ, it is a must see to understand the greatness of the Vietnamese people. To travel through the Tonkinese Alps (Hoang Lien Mountains), you're not only seeing spectacular scenery in Vietnam, but you get the feel
of what the Vietnamese overcame to defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu. That is what my journey through the Northwest was all about.
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