Northwest Vietnam


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Asia » Vietnam » Northwest
November 30th 2009
Published: December 5th 2009
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 Video Playlist:

1: Tetter Totter 13 secs

Northwest Vietnam


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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5th December 2009

Đường lên Tây bắc quanh co...
I have never reached the Northwest by the route from Sapa to Dien Bien, but I think it's perhaps nearly the same with my way. Mountains, rivers, curves, pop corn terrace with spectacular, imposing scenes and the ethnic people all attracts me. If there's the second chance, I will guide you my route. And the best time visit is Spring and summer.
5th December 2009

teeter totter
At first we thought you were being attacked with the bus engine noise in the video, but then we saw the large group on the teeter totter. Moving lots of dirt, is what they are doing in our neighborhood area - building a huge overpass on the main street near us. Enjoyed your Northwest travels.
7th December 2009

Your travel is changing the images I have of Vietnam. Another reason you cannot believe everything you read, you need to see it for yourself. Your bus ride, picturing in my mind, will be one you will remember for awhile. Question: the pictures that show a woman carrying a child in a "child carrier", how long do they do this? Some of the pictures look like the child is at the toddler stage. Cold her today. In a winter advisory, but that may be even later today or evening. 18 degrees. Waiting for summer. Safe travels. Will you be back before Christimas?
7th December 2009

I will be back late afternoon the 25 of Dec.
want to pick me up? No one else does. Kent

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