In and Out of Bảo Lạc

Workers repairing highway 34. The remaking of Highway 34 in progress. The reconstruction was an undoubted boon to the whole area. As with all road making in Vietnam, the process is not allowed to interrupt the flow of traffic. Faced with the above scene all road users are simply expected to find their way between the workers, machines, and new surfaces; traffic control is unheard-of Workers posing for photographer. Young workers snapping, and posing for, the exotic westerners... Highway 34, which runs between the provincial capitals of Cao Bằng and Hà Giang, used to be dire, involving two days on a motorbike swerving between potholes. Bảo Lạc came to the traveller's attention because it lies about half way between the those two cities. A stop and a rest there were mandatory. At that time the only accommodation was provided by a grim, time warped, government guest house. In addition food was hard to find, a most unusual problem in Vietnam. Now with the remaking of the roads in the north, and the coming of at least three good hotels, Bảo Lạc is a pleasant place to stop and relax. The town is over the boundary into the beautiful and unfrequented province of Cao Bằng. This page shows a little of road improvements, and the beginning of the spectacular karst landscapes, Go to another site. of which more in due course. Laying surface on new tar with cattle passing. Cattle would not be taking much notice of traffic control should such exist. The stones for Macadamisation Go to another site. are scattered by hand from these platters. John McAdam is buried in Moffat Go to another page. Jeep with puncture. ...which are seen here, looking exotic while tending the faithful 40 year old Jeep; even it gets the occasional puncture Inside cafe at Na Phong. The road junction at Nà Phòng Go to another page. (offering roads to Hà Giang or Meo Vac) has a simple cafe-cum-shop, but little else River behind main street of Bao Lac. The river runs behind the main street of Bảo Lạc Women around vegetable seller . In some countries, sitting like this vendor, might be considered inelegant Woman selling at roadside by bridge. A woman spreads her vegetables out in an open space by the bridge, this sight of villagers bringing their produce to the local town... Woman looking anxiously interested. Sadly I have no idea what it was she had just seen Woman with panniers and street vendors. ... is seen everywhere in Vietnam. Most commonly vendors sit in lines along the road and chat to their peers Woman washing clothes by well. Clothes washing machines changed the lives of Vietnamese women, previously their days were dominated by this chore Woman with cattle on road. Out on the 'Highway' cattle often dictate the pace of progress Woman with cattle on road. There are some two million ethnic Thai people in Vietnam, predominantly in the west, but also spread across the country. On the Bảo Lạc to Cao Bằng road these splendid Thai stilt houses with with tiled roofs and adjacent paddy fields, proudly display their heritage Woman with cattle on road. Woman with cattle on road. Two ploughermen on hillside. Cattle in Vietnam are kept for work and for their meat, dairy products being of little value in a population without lactase persistence Go to another site. (the ability to digest milk after weening) Photographer and locals watching ploughers. Tourists and locals watching... Four teams ploughing on same hillside. ...four sets of ploughs at work Go to another site. on this hillside Woman in pink with billhook in her belt. From photos higher up the page... Karst at valley head. Along the road to the east of Bảo Lạc the traveller catches the first glimpse of these haunting karst hills which dominate the landscape of Cao Bằng Woman in mauve with billhook in her belt. ...two women with billhooks Go to another page. Left side of valley looking towards karst. Right side of valley looking towards karst.
These two pictures from nearly the same spot give an idea of the beautiful sweeping valley; however, they were taken with different lenses, your tolerance is needed to marry them up: the field, with the oval path, is in both pictures.
The next page takes you south from Bảo Lạc to the National Park of Ba Bể with its peaceful lake which forms the largest stretch of natural inland water in Vietnam. The lack of large lakes is principally due to the dominance of limestone rocks, for the country has between two and four metres of rain a year. Ba Be Lake. line
Saturday 19th May 2018 Murphy on duty

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