Intrepid journey to Ho Village leads to fairytale experience

Intrepid journey to Ho Village leads to fairytale experience

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A group from the US expressed their excitement when they related their trip to Ho Village, 20km northwest of Sa Pa.

Northern trekking: Foreign travellers visit Ho Village
It was a fairytale region, said group leader Duong Quang Thieu.

The group of seven people had been transported to an inn in the village where they hired local guide Vang A Duong, a Tay ethnic man whose household was among the first to co-operate with tour agencies.

"Duong led us to tour Hoang Lien National Park, where fauna and flora are abundant, to see the Da Nhay (Jumping Stones) Waterfall, and we took advantage of the 18-25°C temperature to soak in a fresh clean stream," Thieu said. "It was one of my best memories."

After lunch at Duong's house, they were led to a Dao ethnic hamlet further up the mountain to have a bath with 18 traditional medicinal herbs.

"Although you must trek 3km up to the hamlet, you should not miss this rare opportunity because the Dao people have to go deep in to the jungle to collect the herbs," Duong said. "They are then dried and buried under the earth for a month before use.

Relaxing destination: Jumping Stone Waterfall in Ho Village
"Soaking in the wooden tub with hot herbs leaves you comfortable and certainly more cheerful," he said.

Ho village deputy chief Nguyen Van Minh said the traditional herbs had been handed down through generations of the Dao group.

"They are already approved by the Traditional Medical Institute," Minh said.

In the area, the Lave and Muong Hoa streams weaved through boulders, hills, mountains and terraced paddy fields of Mong, Dao and Tay ethic groups in the breathtaking Valley of Muong Hoa.

Minh said Ho Village encouraged tour guiding.

"We've trained 50 guides and given them English lessons so they can introduce the traditional culture and unique habit and customs of each ethnic group to travellers."

In addition, volunteers from Sa Pa had opened a cooking class and tour guide courses for other young people in the village, Minh said.

Panoramic view: An overview of Ho Village
Duong said Ho Village was worth the somewhat difficult journey to get their because of its views and the opportunity to discover the daily activities of the Tay people.

On the way to the Jumping Rocks Waterfall, which was named by locals after seeing fish jumping out of the water in the old days, Duong's group passed water running along bamboo pipes which locals had laid down to channel water to their terraced paddy fields.

The channels also fed the wooden houses perched on the sides of rolling hills and ensured the wild flowers flourished, Duong said.

In the dry season, the boulders in Lave Stream resembled works of art; in the wet season from May till September the water formed colourful sprays as it hit the boulders.

Ho Village is divided into three hamlets: Ta Trung Ho, Xeo Trung Ho and Hoang Lien. Nearly 50 households in the village had signed tourism contracts with travel agents and welcomes 500,000 visitors a year.

In the evening Thieu's group walked around the village and watched brocade weaving, bought brocade souvenirs for VND25,000 each, or joined locals performing folk songs and dances at a traditional house.

"We joined locals performing the bamboo pole dance which was not so difficult," said group member Frank Robert, adding that he could thoroughly recommend a visit to the village and the region.

The trails and roads from Ho Village also led to the peaceful Red Dao Village of Nam Toong and other ethnic communities, where trekkers enjoyed even more beautiful scenery.

Transport to Ho Village is mainly by motorbike (VND30,000 each way) or jeep (VND300,000 return).
Northern trekking: Foreign travellers visit Ho Village

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