Ha Giang Adventure Tours

Ta Xi Lang

Ta Xi Lang (Hmong language means "land of banyan tree") is home to 5000 Hmong people. It takes more than 2 hours from the center of Tram Tau district (Yen Bai province), over the sheer mountain paths, deep abyss and thick fog, Ta Xi Lang commune appears on top of Ta Cao peak, kingdom of Po Mu wood, Ta Xi Lang is situated below the canyon and immense green wood.

Situated at an altitude of over 2000m above sea level, Ta Xi Lang has an area of 9000 hectares, the commune consists of 5 villages Ta Cao, Xa Nhu, Chong Chua, Lang Manh, La Ta. From ages ago, Hmong people have lived on this harsh land. Ta Xi Lang is one of the poorest and most difficult communes in Tram Tau district. People here live mainly by raising livestock and maize, rice is mostly planted on the hill sides as there is very little water, all facilities are very basic, there is no electricity, the shool is poorly equiped, only the health centre was newly built. Due to the poor level of cultivation so there is usually a shortage of food between harvests.

The first visitors came to Ta Xi Lang about 15 years ago when the young Vietnamese backpackers from a travel forum crossed the mountain passes by motorbike or bicycle to Ta Xi Lang. At that time there was no road, Ta Xi Lang could be reached via the buffalo paths winding around the mountain and forest, it was a challenge to reach Ta Xi Lang on the bikes, only the hardened drivers arrived, especially in rainy seasons. Weather conditions in Ta Xi Lang is more difficult than other mountainous areas, sometimes temperature drops to below zero in winter and that even makes cultivation in the area harder. Around 10 years ago Ta Xi Lang was famous as the "territory" of precious woods Pomu but now, due to the over exploitation the number of old Pomu trees are just scattered in the jungle.

A few years ago, Ta Xi Lang like a different world. Teachers assigned to work here were just afraid and tired because of poor conditions in the area. Most teachers working in this mountain peak are men as the women don't want to face the risk of "becoming an old maid".

In Ta Xi Lang, all teachers and pupils work together to face the difficulty. The teachers' bedroom is too small and they have to share, in dry season they have to walk up to 4km to fetch water, food is mostly groundnuts and dried fish stocked for months. In the rainy season, Ta Xi Lang is isolated for weeks as the roads to the commune is blocked by soil erosion, people and cars cannot pass.

At all school places, the children's meals are very simple and hard. Their food is mainly vegetables sometimes with a fish caught from streams. Yet the kids here still eat very well and go to school regularly. Like in Sapa, Ta Xi Lang is covered by fog all year round, temperature is usually 5 degrees Celsius, freezing, sometimes when it was too cold many horses and buffaloes died however the children still went to school on bare feet, on rainy days the teachers had to burn a fire in front of the classroom for the children to keep warm.

Ta Xi Lang has no electricity, only lamps flickered from the mini hydroelectric source made by local people, mobile phone coverage can hardly reach, only a few places that get phone reception and the teachers have to use 3G network to access the internet, teachers must use Dcom3G.

In recent years, Ta Xi Lang have welcomed many voluntary groups bringing gifts and clothes to the children. Program "firefly light" has overcome the mountains to give light to the students here, the kids are so happy because of this lighting device instead of oil lamps.

Ta Xi Lang Tet in the days before Tet holiday is more foggy in the Ta Cao peak but from within the homes, the classrooms, the firelight flickering in the cold night as if driving away the coldness of this remote place. From the distance, the looming ancient Po Mu trees stand imposingly in the fog.

Ta Xi Lang - Yen Bai

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