The Road to Lũng Cú

Layers of hills. The road to Lũng Cú has spectacular views all along its length - this is my favourite The most northerly tip of Vietnam is landlocked, but nevertheless, just like Land's End, it acts as a magnate for tourists. The road from near the Đồng Văn Palace to Vietnam's apex at Lũng Cú village is completely absorbing with its mixture of a vast countryside, and the daily routines of local people. Karst landscape. Most of the spectacle found in the views comes from the karst landscape. The area has now been designated the 'DVKP Geopark' Go to another site. for this reason Valley and fields. Terraces, valley and karsts New house being built. The site of a new house above the valley Pounding the clay. The clay soil, dug from beside the house, is pounded into a wooden former Traditional houses in this area are built from the clay soil Go to another site. on which they sit. A level patch is cleared and a wooden mould about two metres long and 40 centimetres square is filled with the soil dug from the hill beside the house. This is pounded, the mould moved on, and the process repeated until the desired height is reached when beams are placed to hold a thatched roof. Men's working hat. Women wear the familiar conical hats, less common is the male equivalent, these domed hats. They are of a similar loose weave, allowing some air to circulate Moving the mould. The former or mould is filled, the clay pounded, and the former moved along. The seams of the blocks so created are then filled. The whole process taking a few tens of minutes per block Man turning. A man, with the traditional back basket, and black toggled jacket seen everywhere in the northern part of Vietnam, turns apprehensively on hearing the Jeep Women with firewood. Three women returning with wood they have been gathering for fires, not at all apprehensive at the sight of us Woman adjusting shoe Shoes come undone everywhere Woman in yellow sitting. It was a warm day, but still the pace of life makes it absolutely normal to just sit for a while Women walking with bundles. Most transportation of goods in these parts was like this: bundles on women's backs Man and two women walking. And although there is no role division, as in India, it is mostly women who do the carrying. Here a man and a woman have no burdens While paved roads are valued by locals, freeing them from the slithering mud that otherwise dominates Vietnamese tracks, they bring many heavy vehicles for which the carriageways were not constructed resulting in the road collapsing altogether. 'Improvements' may bring money but also fresh problems. Bundles watching road. While on the road it is obviously a bundle is being transported, on the hillsides it is sometimes hard to distinguish such bundles from the vegetation, as is the case where these appear at first as two 'bushes' Girl with bundle. The burdens are, as always, impressive... Boy sitting watching. Some, such as this schoolboy, are unburdened Children with bundles. ...although as the smiles show these bundles are not in fact so heavy These distant and wild places have always offered surprises at the very activity and density of the population, this is now rather sadly being supplemented by interpretation boards, gift shops and a denser stream of tourists inevitably detached from and looking in on local life. Karsts and terraces. Valley in Ma Lé commune, the location of the Tia Sáng caves Display board introducing the Geopark. Interpretation boards, like this one about the Tia Sáng caves, are very new features of the landscape Notice board detail. Notice board with its endearing Vietnamese English View into China. At the north end of the road the country all around is in China A hill with a brow At the southern end of the road, this eyebrow of a hill guards the valley to Lũng Cú The next page is about the most northerly tip of Vietnam, at Lũng Cú village where an enormous flag - 54 square metres of it - marks the apex of Vietnam with China on three sides. The hill and flag at the northern tip of Vietnam. line
Saturday 7th January 2017 Murphy on duty
While travelling these pages are produced using a Microsoft system.
Colour consistency and quality is sadly much diminished until my return to my Mac.

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