User login

Beauties in Rocky Garden

By: Nguy Ha Posted: January-17-2011 in
Sping coming to Sung La Village © Nguy Ha - Click for more photos
Nguy Ha

During the 160 kilometres from Ha Giang to Dong Van, you can experience the beautiful and dangerous mountain passes that snake between rocky mountains and an ocean of clouds. Ha Giang’s landscape is beautiful all year round.. In the spring, Ha Giang may be cold but it is good time to come in order to see peach, plum and mustard flowers blossom, and experience the ethnic minority peoples’ new year, offering the chance to take part in their traditional games.

Dong Van is set in the rocky outcrops that stretch through the districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and Meo Vac. A late dinner of ethnic sausage with sour chili sauce and corn wine has never been more delicious. Each gulp of wine will warm your body. There are only three hotels in Dong Van and prices are generally very reasonable, the hotel Hong Ngoc opposite the market costs 200,000 VND per night.

Dong Van was built in the early 20th century and for a period of time was controlled by Tay ethnic mandarin as a separate region. Originally only Tay ethnic people and Chinese lived here. It was only from the 1940s onwards that Kinh, Dao, and Nung people settled in the area.

The sizable market in the valley of rocks makes an impressive sight. Designed in a combination of Sino-Vietnamese architecture in 1925, it is set in the environment according to the guidelines of Feng Shui.

Opposite the market is the chain of local houses which combine with the market to create a busy town situated in the middle of a rocky plateau. Houses have two storeys with double tiled roofs and walled enclosures. The most ancient house in town is Ms Tan’s house in Quyet Tien commune. The famous Tay ethnic mandarin Luong Trung Nhan hired builders from Sichuan to come here to build the house in 1890. Despite its run down appearance the old house is well worth a visit.

If you are lucky, you can attend the Pho Cao market, which is notoriously difficult to visit as each week it moves a day backwards, if one week it is held on the Friday, the following week it will take place on the Thursday. Similar to other ethnic minority markets it represents more of an opportunity to meet up, chat, drink and have fun than buy anything. The market is also a great place to explore local culture. Lolo, H’mong, Nung, Dao come here wearing their traditional costumes, laden with a variety of products, and wonderfully coloured fabric. Despite their ethnic differences, they all share their love for the locally brewed corn wine, and typically by the end of the market men can be found being dragged stupefied back home, sometimes being led on horseback.

In Dong Van district, Vuong Palace is a must place to see. It is not only a home, but a fortress of the Vuong Duc Chinh family. Here there remains evidence which reflect the typical highland power of the hereditary chiefs of the H’mong ethnic group in Ha Giang.
Vuong Duc Chinh was follower of hereditary chief Hoang Tu Binh but he was appointed as a canton chief by the French, because of his reputation in the area. When Hoang Tu Binh was too old and weak, Vuong Duc Chinh succeeded him. As construction begun, Vuong Duc Chinh invited a Chinese geomancer to survey the area and he chose the Sa Phin valley as the location for his palace as the terrain resembled tortoise shell; and therefore was considered as a place that the golden tortoise god had come to visit.
The two mountains behind the house were compared to two big steamed glutinous rice trays which believed to bring prosperity to the family.

The Vuong palace was built at the beginning of 20th century and finished over eight years by most skilled Chinese and H’mong workers and cost 150,000 silver piastres. It measures fifty six metres long and twenty metres wide, with the tallest part of the building at twelve metres in height.
In 1993, the Vuong family building was recognized as a national cultural historical monument. The whole Vuong family to this day lives within the building and are entrusted to maintain it and guide tourists whenever they visit this unique architectural relic.

From Nha Vuong, it is about 20 kilometres to Lung Cu flag tower, the farthermost northern point of Vietnam. It might not be that imposing, but it is well worth saying you’ve made the trek. The Vietnamese national flag that flies proudly here measures 54 square metres to symbolize the country’s 54 ethnic groups, and standing at the tower you can peer into China.

Dong Van is only one of 11 districts of Ha Giang but it can take you 3 days to visit. But if you want to explore the whole Ha Giang, prepare for up to half month. Be aware that foreigners require a police permit to travel in some of the districts.

Read more articles by Nguy Ha


Whats on! See our help pages - add your own events

This location does not have any events. Why not add one here!