Winter 17/18 – Double Chinese Border Circle

Not to much time left before I have to fly home again. It is the same every time. My longest trip was 365 days with when I had a Round the World Ticket. Good times in 1990/91. The longest I go for many years now on one trip is 5 months in winter. Starts out super with endless time but a few days after you left home you realize you only have two weeks left. Where is the rest gone? So you better make the best out of it. Specially if you have a nice day and a bike.
The forecast calls for blue sky and a few clouds. Looks like another nice day for the road. Today I want to explore the roads near the Chinese border and see Ban Gioc Waterfall or is it Waterfalls?

Corn field and mountains
It looks like it will be a nice day again.
Karst mountains behind fields in Vietnam
I love those mountains
3 Water wheels in Vietnam
These water wheels are used to get the water from one level to another

I love those wheels. They are so simple but do work so efficient. 24 hours and 365 days without electric power.

Corn fields with Karst mountains in the bag
Corn and Karst

It is the beginning of the season so most fields are full of fresh green

Small graveyard
Small graveyard on the right. Yesterday was a special day and everybody was at the graveyard. All the graves are decorated with flags.
Sediment explanation
Geopark route

Ancient Continent

That is what we can see here! Let me explain. This one is in the Minh Long commune in the Ha Lang district. On top, you see sedimentary rocks consisting of slightly brown colored conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, and shale. They are about 400 million years old.
The bottom layer is only 15 – 20 cm thick and made from rounded gravels and grits, and mostly quartz and sandstone.
Below that boundary is the thinly-bedded schist which is early Cambrian and about 500 million years old. Between these rocks is a long disruption – that is why it is called an unconformity boundary.

It is believed that this was once part of the ancient Gondwana super-continent. Once the whole area was uplifted and where it was deep sea before it became land. The marine deposition was interrupted and the sediments changed.

This lasted for about 120 million years before the sea came back again to burry the unconfomaty boundary.

This is the short for of what you can see above.

The sediments – can you see it?
Stream in a valley
This stream comes from China. The road on the left ends 100 metres bevor the border. There are some concrete blocks to stop bigger trucks from going further. I turned around cause I was not sure where the border is. Do not want to get into this kind of trouble.
Water Buffaloes
Water Buffaloes on the way to their grazing ground
1959 War Monument
1959 War Monument
Stream in the valley
Behind it the valley openes – the water looks nice for a swim
Dead Pig
But after closer inspection I decided against it!
Karst Mountains
More farmland and mountains
Farmland and Karst Mountains
The farmers plant all sort of vegetables but no rice up here
Buffaloes on a street
More buffaloes
A floating sand digger
A floating sand digger

It looks nice and quiet but if you are on the road towards the chinese border you have a lot of truck traffic. Uphill or downhill they are slow but quite fast on the flat aprts of the road.

Truck and bridge
All people study and follow the ideology and morality, Ho Chi Minh’s style! There is propaganda all over the place. The truck drives towards the Chinese border
Local girl
A happy local girl. Not to much in the house. But Uncle Ho and all the family that was in the military on the wall.
Village road
Well look at the rest of the village
Nice hanging bridge
Corn field in front of a Karst hill
Corn field in front of a Karst hill
Horses in a field
That looks like rice fields but who knows?
Farmland and a wodden water pump
Another water wheel
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall – China on the right of the river
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Not that many tourists here. Guess it is to far from everything
Floating Bridge
China on the other side.

Not sure if they move the goods legally over these bridge. Saw plenty of them and some places where they had boats and shipped people to the other side. But that was a bit further in the mountains on a smaller road. And I would pass most of the ferry places if not for the parked bikes and cars in the middle of nowhere. Who knows what they do on the other side?

Vietnamese border marker
Vietnamese border marker

For a while, there is also a road on the Chinese side of the river. Nice cars and busses drive there and it is flat and smooth. Thanks to all the trucks on the Vietnamese side it is pothole hell and super dusty.

The Chinese border
Here you still have green hills
Karst Mountain
Down towards the chinese border at Daxin Xian
Karst formation
Nice formation
The gate of Ly Van Ly
The gate of Ly Van Ly: The border crossing to China. Construction in Daxin Xian. Looks like I was lucky and had less truck traffic.
Lavender fields
Lavender fields at the Chinese side
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall when everybody left
Horse on a street
Guess this is one of the tourist horses. It find its way home in the evening
3 Karst mountains witht eh sun behind
Sun set at the guesthouse
Vietnamese Food
Another one of those good dinners at the homestay

I drove back to Kim’s Homestay to get another excellent dinner with beer and happy water!

Today’s drive:
I drove 185 kilometers in 8 hours, 18 minutes with gas and food stops.

Winter 17/18 – Daytrip to Pác Bó Cave

After last nights hailstorm, the sky was blue in the morning with nice white clouds. A perfect day to visit Pác Bó Cave. Choose a nice loop and was on the road after a hot shower and some coffee.
Little did I know I was going to discover the worst road in Vietnam in a few more hours. And I had my first and only flat tire of this trip.

Karst formation
Karst formations along the way
Blue sky! Looks like a nice day to drive!
Karst Rocks
Great landscape with the karst hills and rice fields
Farmhouse with a view
Cows on the road
Party committees and people of ethnic groups of Cao Chương Commune strive to reach goals in the National Targeted Programs for New Rural Development 2017. The cows do not care!
Karst Mountains
Karst fields and mountains – clouds are moving in
Karst Mountain
Lucky trees – the karst mountains are to steep and nothing else can grow there
Farm House
From time to time you pass a farm house. But in general there is almost no traffic here.
Mountain Road
The Vietnam drama: Power lines everywhere. But a nice street to drive.
Farm Houses
The planting season started here in the mountains not to long ago
The old lady checking on the corn
Farm with mountains
And look what a nice place it is for a farm. This one is one of the few buildings that are not next to the street.
Frontier Area
Frontier Area: China is close
Some rocks in that field
War Memorial
In quiet good shape compared to some others I passed
War Memorial
List of martyrs from Lũng Nặm Commune, Hà Quảng District
Rural Road
The road to nowhere – or in this case to the start of the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail
Green Karst Mountain
All that green…

The worst Road in Vietnam

A few kilometers before I reached the cave I noticed that I had not a lot of air in the front tire. Went back a few kilometers to find a repair shop. One guy had a pump outside the house and he gave me some air. No repair shop nowhere – no wonder here in the mountains. Only a few more kilometers to the cave. And since I drive back to my homestay on the big road it would be easy to find a tire repair shop down there.

Mountain Village
Mrs. Google told me to drive down to that little village and take a right. After that, it is only down the hill to the houses you see there in the valley.
End of the Road
End of the road… NO! This is the DT 203!

Oh – this is not looking good. I had almost no more air in the front tire. And now I have to go off-road. Turning back was not an option since the last bigger village was to many kilometers back so down the “road” it was.

Broken Road
The street turned out to be a off-road challenge
Broken Road
And after a while there is only one way – down! With no air in the fron tire and my road racer bike it would have been to much work to get the bike back up the hill.
Mountain Road
There is kind of a path in the middle at some parts of it
Mountain Road
The better part of the road

Ho Chi Minh’s Cave: Hang Pác Bó

Pac Bo Historical Site
KM 0 of the Ho Chi Minh Road at the Pac Bo Historical Site

I was happy to arrive in the village. Drove super slow to the souvenier stand area and parked the bike. I only later found out that there is an big entrance gate with parking before the village. But only if you get into the village from that site. Well – saved me the entrance fee and the walk.

His house: Where president Ho Chi Minh’ stays and works in the early days of returning home

After 30 years of exile, Ho Chi Minh re-entered Vietnam in January 1941. This was and still is one of the most remote regions of Vietnam. The cave is about 3 km from the Chinese border and the area was home to the Nung tribes.
From here he started to form the Viet Minh, trained cadres, translated the History of Communist Party in the USSR into the Vietnamese language. On top of that, he also edited a revolutionary newspaper called the ‘Independent Vietnam’.
More and more Vietnamese tourists come to this site and the government built a big museum close to the entrance as well.
Interesting fact: He stayed only 7 weeks here before moving south.

Fishing Pond
Here Uncle Ho was sitting and fishing in his free time
Pac Bo Cave
Inside Pac Bo Cave. You can see Uncle Ho’s bed!
Pac Bo Cave
Nice place in summer when it is hot outside
Pac Bo Cave
The formation in the middle is called Karl Marx
Pac Bo Cave
Uncle Ho was boiling water right here! Thank you nice lady for pointing that out!
Fire Pit
Something like: Cooking kitchen location. Serving the president Ho Chi Minh
Memorial Site
The beginning of the Lenin stream where Uncle Ho made the famous “Tức cảnh Pắc Bó” poem.
And the Poem:
In the morning, at the stream bank,
I went to the cave. Cement sheath
vegetable porridge is ready.
Stone table against the Party history,
Life truly is revolutionary too.
Well, Google translate…

Another take:
In the morning went to the river, in the evening into the cave
Rice, vegetables are always available
Stone table to tottering party history
Revolution life is luxurious
Interesting color – this is Lenin Creek
Something like: Twenty years ago in this cave, the party marked the path of the Japanese-Western path. The leaders of the entire population fight, the unremarkable river has this day
Stone Table
Where Ho Chi Minh president often sat to work – the stone table
Pac Bo Relic Area
Pac Bo Relic Area! Do not do this and that and beware – it is at the Border Belt as well!
Pac Bo
The stream towards the entrance in the evening sun

Tire Repair Shop

Tire Repair Shop
At the Tire Repair Shop
Tire Repair Shop
With the help of soopy water you find the hole. Now you have your little drill and make the hole bigger. On the left you see tool #2 with a piece of rubber waiting
Tire Repair Shop
Tool #2 in action. The idea is to press the rubber string in the hole to fill it. This way the tire is ok to go again.
Tire Repair Shop
Last step: Air!

The first few kilometers to the tire shop where smooth sailing. Brand new street, wide and no potholes. But I had no idea how the street looks when I have to take a left and it was getting dark. So No more pictures for this day. I went back to Kim’s Homestay to get another excellent dinner with beer and happy water!

Today’s drive:
I drove 148 kilometers in 6 hours, 22 minutes with gas and food and tourist 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!