Ha Giang – Sitting on the top of Tay Con Linh mountain in Vi Xuyen district, Xa Phin is one of the most beautiful villages in the northern border province of Ha Giang and have attracted more and more visitors.
Winding roads like silk ribbons, traditional stilt houses with mossy palm leaf roofs, the friendliness and hospitality of the locals and their traditional culture are all part of the charm of Xa Phin, which is a village of Dao ethnic minority people.
The village is located at an altitude of 1,200m above sea level and located on the road to the mountain peak of Tay Con Linh which spreads over the districts of Hoang Su Phi and Vi Xuyen and is one of the highest mountains in Vietnam.
Along winding roads through the mountainside, we were head to Xa Phin and on the way, we explored the primaeval forest with rich and diversified vegetation and beautiful forest flowers.
The small and beautiful stilt houses were inserted into the terraced rice fields, hidden away in the mist. The rice fields stretched to the horizon, alternating between hills and streams and the open space of the mountains and forests to create a charming beauty.
Going through the village’s welcome gate, the small village appeared unobtrusive and poetic. In the village, we experienced the unique culture of the Dao and saw the oldest Shan Tuyet tea trees which are hundreds of years old.
We seemed to be lost in green tea heaven. The fresh tea buds are rather big, coated with ‘lanugo’. After being processed they are covered with a milky layer of ‘snow’ with aromatic scents. So it is called Shan Tuyet (snow). This tea tree is considered a huge part of the lives of people here.
“Xa Phin Village has a cool climate all year round so it is suitable for the growth and development of the Shan Tuyet tea tree. Many ancient tea trees have existed for many generations, witnessing many changes in this village. Xa Phin villagers are very familiar with tea trees. In recent years, Shan Tuyet tea has become the staple cash crop of the village, bringing a good income for locals,” said the head of Xa Phin Village, Dang Van Hau.
The village has 70 households, all of whom are ethnic Dao. People still retain many unique traditions which are expressed in customs, rituals, folk songs, folk dances, costumes, folk games and festivals such as le cap sac (maturity ritual), a rite of passage declaring the coming-of-age of Dao men.
These features are also the foundation for the village to promote ecotourism in association with building community-based cultural tourism village, according to Hau.
Ha Giang is also land with miracles of nature, among which are the mysterious caves that visitors love checking out.
We continued our journey to visit Tung Ba cave in Hong Tien Village, Tung Ba Commune. Unlike most other caves, Tung Ba cave appears across the mountainside, about 10m from the valley’s surface.
Tung Ba is a system of large and small caves connected to each other. It has exits and skylights. The cave is about 890m long and in some places up to 25m wide.
Tung Ba is surrounded by a complex of limestone mountains and a rich valley. Along the valley, there also many ravines with other small caves.
The stalactite and stalagmite system of Tung Ba cave is very diverse and colourful alongside the cool and pure water wells. Another rare feature is that the cave also has symbiotic products, adhering to the walls, ceiling and bottom of the cave.
In the east of cave, there are primaeval forests with wild animals like snub-nosed monkey which is one of the rarest primate species in the world today and is endemic to Vietnam./.