Mist in the Mountains
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Winter 17/18 from Đồng Văn to Yên Minh

We had a good nights sleep in the nice beds of the Cao Nguyen Guesthouse in Yen Minh.
We continued the trip after Mitsos had his breakfast. Today we drive to the Northernmost Point of Vietnam: Lung Cu. Or the North Pole as the locals call it. It was quite a warm day so no North Pole feeling on the bike. And even less climbing the up to the tower. But lets get there first.

Vietnamese Mountains
Cool mountains in the morning
Mountains and Rice Fields
With lots of rice fields between them
Rice Fields
Time to prepare the fields
Frontier Area
Along the Chinese Border
Interesting Landscape
Interesting Landscape
Mountain with Farm Houses
Dotted with Farm Houses
Mountain Roads
So many roads to everywhere
Fields in the mountain
Fighting with nature to get a few more square meters of land
Mountain Road
Finally Blue Sky
Farmers on a field
Tending the Field
Village in Vietnam
Another Village
Mountain with Village
Some Forrest left – but not that much
Mountain in North Vietnam
The trees do change up here quite a bit compared to the low land
Mountains in North Vietnam
Imagine that hills with blue sky!
Farming in Vietnam
Lots of farming going on all the way up from the valley to the top

Ma Le Anicent Village

River in the valley
A small river makes its way in the valley. Farming took over the forrest.

Ma Le is located in the Dong Van district in the Ha Giang province. It is down there somewhere. 97 households of mainly Giay people. They settled here about 200 years ago. In the good old times, they used to build two-story houses out of wood. But since there is less and less wood left they fell back to build earth houses like the Mong nearby.
If you pass Ma Le you should stop and take a look at what is left. A few of the 200 year old wood houses and a few of the up to 100 year old earth houses!

Forrest on the top of the mountains
Only all the way up you still see some trees
Not a lot of nature left
Mountain Road
If you look close you can see the flag on top of the tower at the “North Pole”
Lung Cu Flagpole
In the Ly Thuong Kiet Dynasty the first tower was errected here. The French rebuild it in 1887. Later the pole was renovated a few times.
Washing Day
Washing day at the village down in the valley
Power station construction site
Great view on the other site. Why do we need a power station right here?
Vietnamese Flag
At last a picture with the flag and blue sky!
Free Wifi
Free Wifi at the tower. Sweet!
Some farm houses
Back towards the West

The Vương Family Castle

Vương Family Castle
The Vương Family Castle

The palace is located in a valley that was carefully selected according to feng shui. The terrain here emerged as a turtle shell, which represents long life and wealth.

It was the home of Vuong Chinh Duc and his son Vuong Chi Sinh.

The whole palace is surrounded by a 2 meter high and 80 centimeters thick stone wall. The stone walls inside are between 50 and 60 centimeters thick. The palace is divided into several different areas such as a dining room, bedroom or kitchen. Storerooms for marijuana or food. There are rooms for his wives and room with the prayer altar. There is also an are for the executions of criminals

Vương Family Castle Entrance
Entrance to the compound

You reach the main gate trough a lines of ancient Sa Moc trees. The palace were built with 4 horizontal and 6 vertical rows, 2 stories and 64 rooms.
At the back of the building are two horizontal rows on the two sides, linked together by doors. To protect his mansion, Vuong Chinh Duc also built stone walls with holes and post for his men to guard day and night.

Vương Family Castle Gate
Gate into the inner courtyards

Vuong Chinh Duc became rich from trading different good, especially opium. Sa Phin is the middle of the old Golden Triangle region of Myanmar, Yunnan, and Indochina. Duc also set up his own army unit of loyal Hmong people and equipped them with weapons.

Soon enough the Opium trade made him a very rich man and he could get more man for his army. It took only a few yeaar to control the whole Dong Van area. This made it easy to deal with his “internal rivals” and his “external enemies”; the Qing Dynasty of China, the French, the Japanese.

After the French – Hmong Peace Treaty (1913), the political and financial power of Vuong Family had been culminated. Vuong Chinh Duc started to build the Castle. (1919 -1928)

Vương Family Castle Central Part
Entrance to the middle courtyard

The castle is a combination of traditional Chinese and Hmong architecture. The material is from Yunnan and local Vietnamese.
There are underground rooms to keep opium, weapons, and food. A semicircular swimming bath is chiseled from a giant block of stone. The King usually had his bath with goat milk.

Vương Family Castle Last Courtyard
The center part
The back part of the Vương Family Castle
The back of the compound
Decorative Opium fruit
Guess how they made money?

Most construction workers were skillful Hmong craftsmen from China. The wooden parts were sophisticatedly engraved which represented his wealth and prosperity.

The roof from above
The roof from above
View of the courtyard
View of the courtyard
Valley road
The road into the valley
School kids on their way home
School kids on their way home
Winding Road
Winding road into the valley
New house in the making
Mountain Road
At last it stayed dry
Blue Sky – where are you :-(
Last green left
Last green left on that hill
Valley from above
The road goes further down
Picture Time
Picture Time
Viet Ha Beer
Viet Ha Beer
Coca Cola Bottle
Quite a different bottle!

Yên Minh

In the evening it started to rain a bit. It was already dark when we arrived at Yên Minh. The city is quite small so it was no problem to find our hotel in Yên Minh. The Cao Nguyen Guesthouse, Yen Minh is in the middle of the city. I recommend this hotel if you want to stay downtown Yên Minh! It was super clean and the staff was friendly.

Nhà Nghỉ Cao Nguyên

Cao Nguyen Nha Nghi
Our room at the Nhà Nghỉ Cao Nguyên
Bathroom Cao Nguyen Nha Nghi
The bathroom at the Nhà Nghỉ Cao Nguyên
Dentist Hairdresser
First to the Dentist or Hairdresser – Hmmmm

Today’s drive:
We drove 106 kilometers in 6 hours, 17 minutes with gas and food stops.

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