Winter 17/18 – From Phía Tháp to Thái Nguyên

Time to move down South again. Packed the bike and said Adios to the Kim family. I had a super time here in the North and the dinner was excellent – every time! Thank you!!
Today I wanted to see the Mountain with the Hole that is not too far from Kim’s Homestay. When I was close I could not find it and gave up – and I was so close. Stupid me but I also hat many kilometers to go.
I detoured a second time to go to Tân Lập since I was almost out of petrol and there was no gas station the last few hours. It is always a lot of fun – you see that you are getting really low – in this case, the needle was in the red for a few minutes already. I stopped and consulted the map. There is a small hamlet up the hill that looks big enough for a gas station. And sure enough, they had one. So I had a beer and some snaks as well. Anyhow got into Thái Nguyên late and was happy to take a hot shower.

Vietnamese Graveyard
Still some festivities at the graveyard
Fields and Karst Mountains
Fields and Karst mountains
Corn Field and Karst Mountain
Corn fields
Green Karst Mountains
These Karst mountains might stay green since you can not farm there
Farm house in the mountains
What a nice spot for a farm house
Green mountains
Still some green mountains
Fields and Mountains
But you can see how agriculture takes over more and more.
Mountains and Farm Land
More cuts in the mountains
Farm in the Valley
Some farmers houses in the valley
Fresh planted fruit trees
Coming round the next bend and you see this for an hour or so. Makes you really sad
The only good thing about it is that they will be green in the future if you look at this hills
Burnt Land
More forrest gone
Clear cut forrest
And more and more and more…
Mountains and more mountains
Local House
Another old school local house
Small village in a valley
Small village in a valley
Mountains at sunset
The gate to paradiese
Small road
Small road in the valley
Sunset in the mountains
Sunset in the mountains

Today’s drive:
I drove 275 kilometers in 9 hours and 4 minutes with gas and food stops.

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Winter 17/18 From Nà Hang to Phía Tháp

The next morning was the usual gray and cold one. Not too cold but enough to wear the windproof jacket. Today I had to cross a few mountain ranges to get to the northern part of Northeast Vietnam or Đông Bắc. Looking forward to seeing a lot of limestone mountains again.

Dam in Vietnam
There is a big dam above the village. If this one breaks the village will be gone for sure.
Low water in the dam
Low water in the dam – seems to affect way more places
Restaurant Boats
Restaurant Boats. There was a bit of sun for a few minutes. Look how the water color changed.
Workers in the Filed
Lots of workers in the field and some buffaloes in the green
Another gray Day
Another one of those gray days
Green Mountains and a green valley
Green Mountains and a green valley
Hazy Day
Mountains and more mountains
Lots of big and small roads
Nobody likes the sun out here
Ricefiles and Mountains
But I was quite happy to have some blue sky for a change
Information board
Ma Phuc Pass Information Board
Nice mountains
Nice mountains

Phía Tháp Insence Village

Valley Road
This is where I had to turn right to get to my Homestay. Insense stick dry in the afternoon sun.

Incense production in Phía Tháp has a long tradition. The Nung An people of the village hand down the incense making craft from generation to generation. The whole family is involved.
The Phía Tháp Incense is made entirely from natural material found in the region. Bamboo trees to make the sticks. The bark of the bombax ceiba tree, sawdust, and leaves of the “bau hat” tree to make the glue to bond the materials together.

First, you cut the bamboo into pieces that are about 40 cm long. After that, you split it into fine sticks and polish them. The “bau hat” leaves and the bark of the bombax ceiba tree get ground into a fine powder. It has to be mixed very well with sawdust. The bamboo sticks get soaked in water and coated with powdered “bau hat” leaves to create the glue. Now you only have to apply the mix you made earlier. Now it is time to dry them.

When dry the bottom part gets dyed red and the whole stick is dried again. Now you only need to tied them into a bundle and you are ready to sell them!

Information Board
Phía Tháp Information Board
Incense Sticks
Incense sticks in the sun
Incense drying
Incense drying all over the place
A mix of corn fields and incence dry concrete
Incence wood sticks
Incence sticks in the sun to dry
Farm Houses
Farm houses

Mr. Kim’s Homestay in Phía Tháp

Mr. Kims Homestay in Phía Tháp
Mr. Kims Homestay in Phía Tháp

There is only a hand full of places to stay up here in the far northeast of Vietnam. So I made Mr. Kim’s Homestay my base for the next few days. The whole upper floor is a big sleeping room and a family shrine. There are 3 double rooms up there as well if you want more privacy. The rest can be diverted with curtains and you will have a mattress on the wood floor.
There are a few bathrooms and hot showers at the back of the house. Downstairs is the kitchen and dining room as well as the rooms of the family.

You can book your room or room or mattress at!

Mr. Kims Homestay in Phía Tháp
Cooking dinner at Mr. Kim’s Homestay
Mr. Kims Homestay in Phía Tháp
Everybody helps
Mr. Kims Homestay in Phía Tháp
Old School Kitchen
Mr. Kims Homestay in Phía Tháp
My Vegetarian Dinner – it comes with a small bottle of Happy Water!

Had the best dinners of the whole trip here at Mr Kim! Each day it was really good and plenty. And you will not go to bed hungry.

Sleeping Room Mr. Kim
My bed on the left- I moved the other mattress so I had space next to the bed as well
Family shrine
The family shrine in the middle of the upper floor
Phía Tháp Village
There was a storm coming into the valley. Started to rain hard when we had dinner. It turned into a big hail storm in the middle of the night.

The owner of the place – Mr. Kim – is 61 and never saw hail before. So you can imagine. Some of the roof tiles got smashed so the whole place got flooded later. Today we cleaned a lot and fixed the roof.

Phía Tháp Village
After the storm – the next morning
Phía Tháp Village
After the storm – unhappy corn and banana trees
Phía Tháp Village
Heavy rain turned into hail and back into rain again

Today’s drive:
I drove 224 kilometers in 7 hours, 19 minutes with gas and food stops.

Support my blog!
Book your room here please. No difference for you but I get a little bit of Coffee money 🙂 Thank you!