Ha Giang Adventure Tours

Off the beaten track

The past week was truly blessed!Actually, I went to work for a week in Ha Giang. A province in the North East of Vietnam. This is the poorest province in the country and also the only province where tourists come so far. Since 2010, UNESCO has an area recognized by the province as a Geopark. This means that the region is recognized for its exceptional geological value and unique landscape. But otherwise, there is a lot of cultural heritage in the region since there are 17 ethnic minorities live in the geopark.

The government is now trying to boost tourism in the region as a means to combat poverty. The management of the geopark is now working on the implementation of a strategic action plan to achieve that. One of the components of the plan is the creation of four ecomuseums. My actual goal for the last week was so formulating advice for the management on the basis of what I had learned from my research on the existing eco-museum in Ha Long Bay. But that is so well turned out a little different!

Last Monday I arrived in the early morning in Ha Giang, after  a short night on the sleeper. After a few more hours to have slept in my hotel, I had an appointment with the director of management.Obviously this was again not without a struggle, as I have just now am here.The girl that would translate for me barely spoke English and I think also that they did not understand most of what I said. Much was staring at papers and it was the main conclusion of the call that I needed a 'border license. Foreigners may not be without the geopark. Obviously this would not come the same day in order so I had to wait until Tuesday. 

Tuesday I met with Don, he also works for the management and with him I had been contacted before I came to Vietnam. He has sent me on the road with Ly through the Geopark. Ly and I are Tuesday afternoon, when I had my license, left with the scooter for a tour through the Geopark. 2 girls, one backpack, two small backpacks and one scooter, uphill and downhill! It was truly blessed to tear through the mountains! 

Our first stop was  Quan Ba, one of the central cities where we would spend the night. After having dropped our stuff at the hotel we went to the first ethnic minoriteitendorp. However, most people were working in the country so there was little enthusiasm. The next day we had a long drive ahead, 120 miles to the next town: Meo Vac.Although I had another really enjoyed the scenery and the people again and again very strange looked up, it was still a hard ride! Arriving in Meo Vac we met and Quan Hoa, where we evenings also go out to dinner with and where I was first introduced to corn wine or the vietnamese tequila. After two shots gave me was also kept the men to challenge me to drink. 

The next day we are going to visit two villages where I will probably be the first and the last white man has ever been there. It's really great to discover the 'real' Vietnam, with local people and where no foreign tourists just yet. 

Friday Ly Quan and I moved on to the next  City: Dong Van. Also we are going to an ethnic minoriteitendorp visit and we have a family lunch. Vietnamese people have the habit of doing every afternoon nap of 1.30h and was therefore no different today. Quan was tired and went promptly into the bed of our hosts some sleep. I got me nice laid outside in the sun with views of the mountains. 

Saturday we took the scooter to Lung Cu, a town on the border with China.Here is a very large monument commemorating the war and with stunning views of the surroundings. We had to first 800 steps up before we could admire this view. Sunday was my last day in the Geopark with Ly. We would travel all the way back from Dong Van the scooter to Ha Giang, some 150 km. Fortunately, I can give my backpack with a bus. Sunday morning we first have visited the local market where the ethnic population from the area came together to sell anything. It was really a nice sight to behold, all those colors! 

After our six-hour  ride on the scooter we finally arrived back in Ha Giang. I received a farewell meal with the parents of Ly and then I went back to the night bus to Hanoi. 

It was truly an unforgettable week with super nice people! The next stop is Sapa, where I'm going to take 2 days of trekking with Dad!

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