A scenic road through imposing mountains at Trung Khanh, Cao Bang
A scenic road through imposing mountains at Trung Khanh, Cao Bang

Trip through Cao Bang

It was early in the afternoon when I made my way into Bao Lam - Cao Bang from Meo Vac – Ha Giang. The drive was on a flat and quiet road with forested mountains on one side and a river running side by side with another range of mountain on the other.

It was refreshing to stop every now and then to take photos of the pristine landscape and to take in the some fresh air. The Gam River played relaxing music in the otherwise silent nature. I had a quick lunch at a restaurant by the Gam River at Bao Lac Town and continued the trip toward Nguyen Binh District.

The Gam River in Bao Lac
The Gam River in Bao Lac

 

Road through the mountains at Nguyen Binh
Road through the mountains at Nguyen Binh

The road was quite flat in Bao Lac and started getting higher and more mountainous at Nguyen Binh. The soil was dry and the mountains were more sublime here. More than a few times had I found myself standing on top of a mountain looking down at many mountain peaks and valleys. The scenery was so charming that I did not realize that the day was drawing to a close and the sun had disappeared. Now I had to drive through the dark on a pot-holed road to the city. Some parts of the road were under construction that I had to wait for a while each time for the road to be cleared. It was over eight in the evening when I got to the hotel in Cao Bang Town. A hot shower and hot chicken soup at a restaurant near my hotel put an end to a fabulous day.

Mountains at Nguyen Binh
Mountains at Nguyen Binh

 

Dusk at Nguyen Binh
Lost in  the beauty of dusk at Nguyen Binh

Then came the morning. The air was damp and chilly. It must have rained earlier today. Breakfast was simple as usual but very relaxing. There were not many guests around that it was very quiet and I had a nice time enjoying the food and the hot coffee. I'd head north-east to the Chinese border to visit Ban Gioc Waterfall and then back to the city. Hopefully the weather would be nice and if it was not that nice then I'd be happy anyway. It is lovely to travel not to worry about anything, not to hurry for anything and expect anything that you may encounter on the journey.

Road to Ban Gioc from Cao Bang
Road to Ban Gioc from Cao Bang

The sky got brighter a bit when I finished breakfast and slowly I drove out of the town. After twenty minutes or so, I was surrounded by pristine nature gain. The road was in great condition and was almost traffic free. By the roadsides, there were fertile farms that ethnic people were tilling. The mountains were so captivating that I had to stop for a photo every few minutes.

Landscape on the back road to Ban Gioc
Landscape on the back road to Ban Gioc

Charmed by the landscape that I didn't realize that I was going in the wrong direction. Someone stopped me suddenly and asked where I was going. I told him that I was going to Ban Gioc Waterfall. He laughed and told me to turn around. It was the Chinese border soon. And he enthusiastically showed me a back road that was shorter than the main one. I thanked him and made a U-turn and followed a back road along a river. The scenery here was stunning. It was not bad getting lost after all.

A backroad to the Ban Gioc Waterfall
A back road to the waterfall of Ban Gioc

It must have rained quite a bit recently here that the soil was wet and everything was green! The air was fresh, the surrounding was quiet and I was here by myself amid a heavenly landscape! Then came a little river with emerald green water and bucolic mountains in the backdrop. A rustic deserted suspension bridge was in stark contrast to the surrounding nature...

The Quay Son River near Ban Gioc
The Quay Son River near Ban Gioc

And suddenly appeared an idyllic valley with a waterfall further in the distance. It was the waterfall of Ban Gioc that I was looking for. There was not enough water just yet that it was smaller in scale than the photos that I normally came across. I got some relaxing time by the waterfall and at a nearby restaurant.

The scenic valley at Ban Gioc Waterfall
The scenic valley at Ban Gioc Waterfall

 

The Ban Gioc Waterfall
A closer look at Ban Gioc Waterfall

It got drier in the afternoon when I made the return journey to Cao Bang. The wind was blowing much stronger and the temperature seemed lower also. A few kilometers from Ban Gioc, I visited the magical cave of Nguom Ngao which hid itself in a secret valley with limestone mountains all around. The entrance and exit were both tiny while it was huge inside. There were many paths not yet explored inside the cave. The stalactites and stalagmites here were so amazing. The beautiful valley to me was worth the trip by itself, but I'd need more time to explore the whole surroundings then.

Nguom Ngao Cave
Nguom Ngao Cave

In mid afternoon, the sky got clearer and the sun came out for short while just to make the beautiful landscape more lively. The weak glaring sunbeams in the horizon added some bright tones to my photos. The breezes made the air dry quickly and my trip was so pleasant.

Captivating mountains at Trung Khanh
Captivating mountains at Trung Khanh

For over an hour or something, I came to the village of Pac Rang just by the roadside. It was a village of Nung An ethnic people and there were many shops as well as workshops selling knives, sickles, hammers... Villages with traditional occupations like this were vanishing in Vietnam and it was interesting to chat with the blacksmiths and asked about their job and life. They worked too hard here and I was wondering who would buy all these things, given that the whole village made a lot of them! But they all looked happy and their life was really peaceful here, quite a laid-back lifestyle in my thinking. Wow, it's just a beautiful life anyway.

Pac Rang Village
Pac Rang Village

Leaving the village, I had to climb the high pass of Ma Phuc which offered great views of mountains that I missed earlier in the day due to the rain and arrived back to Cao Bang Town when it was still daylight. The market below my hotel room was getting busier as people went shopping after work. I went out again and had a walk around the town center and had a hot cup of tea by the riverside and got back to the room for an early night. A wonderful day was drawing to a close!

Mountains at the Ma Phu Pass
Mountains at the Ma Phu Pass

 

Cao Bang Market
Cao Bang Market

Awakened to a cloudy morning, I opened the window to let in some fresh air. It was a cloudy day and was peaceful outside. I got some relaxing time for a stroll along the river and for breakfast and left the city when it was half past eight. The road was excellent and the mountain landscapes on the way were so amazing. It was probably a more quiet day than usual as there was virtually no traffic on the road. I was in no hurry at all and stopped every now and again to relax and to adore the fresh scenery of forests, mountains and valleys...

It was in the mid morning that I found myself going downhill on a long gradient leading to Ngan Son District of Bac Kan Province. My fabulous trip through Cao Bang came to and end here. My next trip back to this land would be for a trek along the Chinese border. What I had to do now was to plan what to have for lunch at Ba Be National Park...