Thursday, 18 September 2014

Lào Cai-Ha Noi | Report 8 | The People of Tay Bac

On The Lao Cai-Hanoi Road. Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
The itinerary has us today returning from Lào Cai city, the capital of Lào Cai Province. It borders the city of Hekou Yao Autonomous County, in the Yunnan province of Southwest China, and the Chinese influence is quite pervasive. The beautifully appointed Swiss-Bel hotel was virtually empty of guests, except for a handful of local Vietnamese, and us being the only non-Asians. Our Ha Noi minder Huyen rode an overnight train to take us back, and to solve any issues if we had any during our return trip.

The journey back to Ha Noi took us from 09:30 am to about 5 pm, door to door. A middle section of the highway is still blocked off due to last minute repairs, but the toll gates are open and we drove on this new highway for quite a while. The back roads were in bad condition due to the rain caused by the typhoon, but I've seen much worse.

On the way, we stopped to photograph the rice harvest in the gorgeous paddies, and chanced on a small house where these elders were tending to their grandchild. There was some reticense after this photograph was made because traditional Vietnamese normally do not like to be photographed in threes (and/or other odd numbers).

Ha Noi felt like home. The chaos, the commotion, the noise...and naturally the lip-licking Pho Bo at  Pho 10 on Lý Quốc Su street. A bowl of pho bo and a bottle of Hanoi beer set each one of us 60,000 dongs or just under $3.00. It really can't be beat.