Backpacking in Asia #3: Ha Giang!

After hiking in the beautiful nature of Sa Pa, it was again time for exploring the nature of Vietnam. But a little bit less active this time. With motorbikes (although I have to admit that sitting on a motor for three days in a row is a real workout for your ass)!

´´Oeeh, you are going with the local bus?´´ The friendly lady from the hostel we were going to stay in Ha Giang sounded worried on the phone. ´´Maybe it´s better to take the night bus.´´ Unfortunately, we already booked the local bus and so our ´local transport experience´ from Sapa to Ha Giang started.

After being in the bus for 10 minutes, the bus stopped under a bridge. A fast break, I thought. But it turned out it was not a break for us. The drivers left the bus in the middle of the road (without air conditioning) and took all the time to eat some lunch with other people who were chilling under a random bridge next to a busy road. Soon, the people in the bus reunited with the same feeling: ´´Wtf is going on here?´´ And the feeling: ´´This is gonna be a long ride.´´ The bus stopped at more places, for example at a place with a toilet where you were not alone, but cosy accompanied by lots of insects. But at the end, it was all worth it.

We got some sleep in the homestay and then our 3 days motor loop with easyriders through Ha Giang started.´´Where are you from?´´ My easyrider asked while I was sitting on the back of his motor. ´´From the Netherlands´´, I said. He immediately became enthousiastic and proudly showed me his Dutch, which was: ´heeeel mooi!!´. At the end of the motor loop, I heard ´heeel mooi´ for sure more than a hundred times. The easyriders stopped at beautiful spots where we could take pictures. Of course, this is perfect for me because I want to photograph everything. We drove on the motor the whole day and ended in our homestay in the middle of nowhere. The only life I saw was a dog who was playing. And a football, which I played with together with an easyrider. After fanatically playing soccer in 35 degrees, the easyriders showed us our beds, which actually were matrasses on the ground with (I was so happy) mosquito nets without wholes in it. The beds layed exactly like a concrete floor, but it didn´t matter.

´´JULIA!!! MOOM!!´´ Our easyriders screamed at us. ´´Dinner is ready!´´ While we arrived in the kitchen, a whole family dinner was waiting for us. The food was so good and just as in Sa Pa, accompanied by lots of happy water. Our easyriders learned us the Vietnamese version of cheers. Which means that you invite someone at the table, or everyone, for a drink and say three times the same Vietnamese sentence. On the third sentence you drink together and after this you thank each other. Our easyriders invited us lots of times for drinks, which resulted in one easyrider telling us that the other one loved karaoke. Before I knew it, I had a microphone in my hand and I was singing Dutch and Vietnamese songs with the locals. It was the most funny and random thing ever.

When our voices were trained enough, we went to our ´luxury beds´. The next day it was again time for the motor loop. We jumped on the back of the motors and saw many ´heeel mooi´, also known as ´beautiful´ things. The nature in Ha Giang is very vast and unaffected so you can enjoy the view endlessly. I was completely in my nature dream, while I startled awake from something that also belongs in unaffected nature: a huge snake was laying on the floor. And when even the locals get scared, you know it´s serious. ´´Is this snake dangerous?´´ I asked my easyrider who looked worried. ´´Yes, it is!´´ Two seconds later he asked if we wanted to have a photography stop. I kindly rejected that request.

During breakfast, our easyriders told us happy that we were visiting the border of China the second day of the loop. And we did! We left the snake in Vietnam while I was standing with one foot in Vietnam and with the other one in China. You immediately saw that the nature in China was so different than in Vietnam. Okay, not true. But of course it´s cool to say that we stept foot in China.

This day, we didn´t sleep in a homestay but in a private hotel room. Although primitive sleeping has its charm, I have to say that it was heaven to sleep in a real bed again. Okay, still as hard as a stone, but it felt good. With help from Google Translate, one easyrider asked us if we wanted to ´walk and play´. We had no idea what we were going to do, but we politely said yes. With the idea in my head that we were going to a casino, we started the ´walk and play´. At the end, it turned out that Google Translate left us in the dark this time. ´Walk and play´ meant just exploring the city and before I knew I had really nice local street food in my hand that an easyrider gave to us.

The last day, we were on the motorbikes again. My easyrider had basic English but there were things we could both understand really well. The whole motor loop was filled with ´heel mooi´ (really pretty), OMG in Vietnamese (I don´t know how to write it) and ´let´s go´ in Vietnamese (also, don´t know how to write it). This day, there was one more thing: my but is hurting (my easyrider started with it and we all had the same feeling). Three days on a motorbike is not good for your ass, but it is really good for your holiday. The motor loop was amazing and Ha Giang one of the most beautiful places during my trip in Vietnam. I would really recommend it!

In my next blog: getting some rest in the beautiful Cat Ba (Halong Bay), a completely dark city and the most kind hotel manager. Oh, and lots of geckos.

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