mardi 26 juin 2012

On friday august 12, the Red Dao village of Ta Phin, about 15 km north of Sapa; and also another Black H'mong near Tam Duong.

Vendredi 12 août 2011: Ta Phin, village Dao et près de Tam Duong, villages H'mong.

The village of Bing Lu.

Village de Bing Lu.

The Thac Bac waterfall, 13 km before arriving in Sapa, 1650 m altitude at the foot of Mount Fan Si Pan, the highest mountain of Vietnam. It is said to be one of the ten best walking, trekking places in the world, so says Lonely Planet. Located in the remote north-west  mountains near the chinese border, also knoxn as the Tonkinese Alps! Sapa has in recent years become a real tourist hotspot! There are many minority ethnics living in and all around Sapa.

Chutes de Thac Bac et arrivée à Sapa (1650m d'altitude) au pied du mont Fan Si Pan, point culminant du Vietnam, et marché.

On saturday august 13, we left for Can Cau where a very colorful market is held each week where there are mostly H'mond villagers. On the way, some very very beautiful rice paddy fieds.
Samedi 13 août 2011: départ pour Can Cau, rendez-vous hebdomadaire des peuples du Haut Tonkin, marché au bétail.

Paddy fields. The lanscapes are particularly beautiful between may and october, so we're in luck.
Rizières en terraces.

Arrival in Can Cau where the open-air market specializing in livestock is held each saturday from 6 A.M. to midday. As you can see it is very colourful and still seems authentic! There were western tourists with their triggering cameras, but I was able to ignore them!!! The advantage of traveling with a tiny camera is immense and so much more discreet! 8 different minorities are represented here, the Flower and Blue H'mong being the majority. Located 9 km south of the chinese border, Can Cau also attracts Chinese traders.

Arrivée à Can Cau.

Here is the H'mong king palace in Na Hoi Tho hamlet in the Bac Ha district or Hoang A Castle 110 km away from Sapa. It was built between 1914 and 1921 by Hoang Yen Chao of Tay origin. Hoang A Tuong was his son. For your information, in Bac Ha there is a much bigger market  than the previous one sunday mornings and it's probably a better place than Sappa to start trekking around and going to other markets in the vicinity. 

Bac Ha, palais du roi des H'mongs. Les H'mongs de la région sont surtout Fleurs ou Bariolés.

A few more stops in some villages before arriving in Lao Cai, on the chinese border, where we took a night train to return to Hanoi .

Lao Cai, frontière chinoise et temple, avant le départ en train de nuit pour Hanoi.

On sunday august 14, after arriving in Hanoi, we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum with the changing of the guards outside; you'd better believe that security is tight; no sun glasses, dress above the knee or other inappropriate attire, and of course, no photography inside! Next to it, the presidential palace, which was built between 1900 and 1906 for the French Governor-General of Indochina Paul Doumer; Ho Chi Minh refused to live there when Vietnam achieved its independance and built a more traditional vietnamese house on stilts, which I think was the palace electrician's former quarters close by from 1954 to 1958; and finally the Litterature temple dedicated to Confucius.

Dimanche 14 août 2011: Hanoi. Mausolée de Ho Chi Minh, quartier de Ba Dinh, palais présidentiel, temple de la Littérature.

This is the Vietnam  Museum of Ethnology, and as you may have guessed I really like those minority dresses. What craftmanship, what variety... I cannot help think of the richness of the culture, each minority group having its own traditions and customs, and of course costumes. Sadly enough, in France, not so long ago, it was the same thing, but our modern civilzation has permanently put an end to that, everyone wearing mostly t-shirts and jeans, everyone looking the same. I wouldn't call that progress, but rather the empoverishment of the culture. Unfortuntely pretty soon it will probably be the same here in Vietnam, too. One day day my son (not the place we visited!), my son will tell his grandchildren: "times have changed. I remember the days, not so long ago, when minority hill tribes in Vietnam, wore their own personal and various ethnic costumes!" Oh well...

Musée d'ethnologie de Hanoi.

On monday august 15, we hit the road again for the Ha Long Bay which literally means the descending dragon bay, another UNESCO Heritage Site since 1994. The bay features a dense cluster of thousands of monolithic limestone isles, which come in all sizes and shapes, rising spectacularly from the sea.
Lundi 15 août 2011: La baie d'Halong sur une jonque traditionnelle.

Some of these isles are hollow with caves such as this one. This has got to be paradise for all geologists! 

La grotte des merveilles

From seeing all the pictures I took, you can easily imagine how impressive I thought this place was. Simply magnificent and breathtaking.

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