day one hundred and thirty-seven: february 13, 2016: ha giang to dong van
Soon after waking up, Jonathan went to take the photo below only to be accosted by several bees (maybe looking for their missing honey?) and got stung on the cheek and the back of his neck. It's the first time he's ever been stung so we were happy to learn that he wasn't allergic!
After a breakfast of pho trâu (buffalo), we hit the road toward Đồng Văn, which was the first very scenic drive we would have over the next few days.
We began climbing into the karst plateau that the area is famous for - large, pointy, spiring mountains jutting up of nowhere into the sky.
Somehow, the minority groups of Northern Vietnam were still able to construct extensive rice terraces amongst these steep karst mountains. Super impressive!
One of our stops along the way was a small tourist village where a Vietnamese movie was filmed about a Romeo and Juliet type story taking place in a H'mong village.
Further along on our journey we came to a viewpoint up along a pass covered in sharp karst rocks. As Jonathan scrambled amongst the rocks to a better viewpoint over the valley, Quang and I entertained the kids with more balloons.
There was also a series of several small pools of water that some young boys were swimming in in the nude. As they were swimming, one of the boys' pants were blown into the water by the wind, but no one saw but me. Later, we saw them fishing around in the murky water for his pants and needless to say, he looked really sad as he crouched behind a rock only wearing his shirt and jacket. Lucky for him, I knew where to look for his pants and his friend was able to fish them out for him.
As we headed down the hill, below we could see Palace of the King of the H'mong, our next stop. Vuong Duc Chinh, the self proclaimed King of the H'mong became extremely wealthy from growing and selling opium in the mid 1900's. He had this palace built for himself and his family while trying to avoid the wars going on in the surrounding territories.
After arriving in Đồng Văn, we headed up the hill for a short hike to the French Fortress that sits atop a nearby peak overlooking the city. The view was very rewarding, although much more of a steep climb than we were expecting for an end to our day.