The Road from Mèo Vạc to Nà Phòng

Bridge keper unlocking the 'gate'. Bridge keeper unlocking the 'gate' (a padlocked wire) to the pontoon bridge that allowed motor bikes to get from Bảo Lạc to Mèo Vạc, saving some 100 miles of mountain roads Pontoon bridge. One vehicle queue for the bridge of bamboos Go to another site. The last pages Go to another page. showed images of the town of Mèo Vạc from where there is a road south to the hamlet of Nà Phòng (which has gone un-photographed) on Highway 34. Until recently this road involved crossing the pontoon bridge shown here, now there is a road bridge and the beautiful scenery is open to soft car travellers such as I have become. In whatever way you come to view this road it rewards you. Farmers on teraced hillside. Farmers on the terraced hillside, preparing fields at an angle of well over 45 degrees. And to the left these workers (at the left of the picture) can be seen in context Mountainous context of the last picture. House and trees high up the valley. Houses with a view; enhanced by the curve of path and furrows House with tree. A closer view of the house in the picture above House on terracing. Perched on a slight widening of a terrace, this house lets its occupiers save some of the effort of getting to the fields Terraced hillside speckled with houses. ...most of which are Thai houses, built up on stilts Hillside with houses and terraces. Further along the valley a hillside dotted with houses... Woman on road. Hill road with woman in the overhead sun... Woman with umbrella in hot sun. ...with umbrella relief Flat valley with craigs. Flat fertile valley with craigs Hillside with mountains beyond. The hillside shown higher up the page with the context of the surrounding mountains which rise to around 5,000 feet House on terraces with paths. The house higher up the page in context River with bamboos . Rivers in the northern provinces of Vietnam are always this cyan colour due to the minerals they contain Gentler sloping terraces. Lower down the slopes of these valleys the terraces are usually less percipitous Bamboo raft being punted. A bamboo raft being punted on the river. Bamboos are bound together and soaked for a few months, this makes them remarkably resistant to disease and attack. Bamboos bound into rafts. Many companies make much money from chemical treatment of bamboos. In Vietnam bamboos are soaked in a river for several months. A paper from India Go to another site. assess the relative merits of the different processes Suspension bridge by village. Looking down onto the river and village, with its suspension bridge featured in the three photographs below Barbara and Ian on broken bridge. Barbara and Ian on bridge Motorbike on broken bridge. Motorbike going over bridge Children walking over broken bridge. Children on bridge Man preparing food in kitchen. Many cafes offer specialities, this kitchen had as its 'dish of the day' freshly cooked horse, Go to another site. which we consumed on a balcony overlooking the river seen above Locals drinking in cafe. Locals in for a chat, vodka and a free smoke. The man holds tobacco, a lighter and in his right hand a bamboo pipe - of which more photos two pages back Go to another page. Woman cooking on open fire. Not uncommonly spaces are 'open plan' here the kitchen, table for tea and drinks, and the tables for eating are all in one space, with the latter extending out over the river on a balcony Valley with road down in it. The valley through which the road winds Dirt road with Han on motorbike. Dirt road (mud after rain) with Hân on our motorbike Wooded hillsides and houses. The gentle wooded country of the Hà Giang - Cao Bằng border The next page takes you on along Highway 34 to the town of Bảo Lạc. The head picture shows that road in the process of being transformed from a truly appalling surface to one that a Jeep could just about manage! Road Making. line
Saturday 12th May 2018 Murphy on duty

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