Today: 25/09/2023 11:01:34 (GMT+7)

Journey to northern Vietnam’s 2,000-meter Pha Luong peak

From the top of Pha Luong in Son La Province my eyes roamed the mountainous Laos territory, a feast for the senses.

Pha Luong peak in Chieng Xuan Commune, Moc Chau District is dubbed the roof of the Moc Chau highlands, a popular tourist attraction. The destination is well-loved due to ease of access and scenic beauty.

Journey to northern Vietnam, 2,000-meter Pha Luong peak, Son La Province, feast for the senses, scenic beauty, popular tourist attraction

Xu Kien at the rock ledge on Pha Luong peak.

One day in early February, I left Moc Chau's center for Pha Luong Village, 30 km away. The journey commenced along mostly flat concrete routes, made easier with the help of Google Maps.

That night, I lodged at the house of A Chong, my Pha Luong tour guide. He has five children, all small, dirt-covered and fragile, the outlook of poverty-stricken offspring.

My conjecture was confirmed at dinner, a meal, despite the host’s well-intentioned hospitality, that only included some boiled vegetables and small fish. The kids, on the other hand, had little else but plain rice and water.

The whole of A Chong’s family had gone to bed at 8 p.m, leaving me alone to enjoy the brilliant night sky outside. The next morning, after breakfast, I dedicated a few moments to admiring the mountainous scenery, with the morning dew glistening off the leaves.

At 7 a.m., A Chong took me on a seven-kilometre journey to the border post, a journey that took my breath away, not with admiration but with fear. We traveled along an under-construction dirt road, with one side a tall mountainous cliff and the other an endless abyss. The horror soon got the better off me, as I started to imagine the rattling sound of the old motorbike. One mistake could take us to the bottom, I thought.

After one hour of traveling, we reached the border post, the first stop on my Pha Luong itinerary. As Pha Luong peak lies in the middle of the Vietnam – Laos border, all trekkers need to obtain a travel pass, available for VND20,000 ($0.86) from the border station, before proceeding with their journey.

A Chong first took me to a H’mong ethnic village at the foot of the mountain. Though the first few steps were rather steep, my shoes maintained their grip. I had a chance to meet many ethnic families, with children playing outside and mothers sewing clothes inside, blanketing the village in a peaceful atmosphere.

The following path was bare, with no covering jungle. From the back of terraced rice fields Pha Luong peak rose majestically, waiting to be conquered.

I slowly reached the natural jungle, with ageing vines and tree trunks everywhere. The route felt endless with repetitive foliage, though no flowers since it was around winter’s end.

Throughout the route, there were many food stalls operated by ethnic local hosts, selling sweets, boiled eggs and drinking water. We stopped at one for refreshments.

I slowly followed A Chong along the mountain route, which was not too challenging for an avid traveler like me. After only two hours, we passed through the forests, which ended at an 1,900-meter altitude.

Journey to northern Vietnam, 2,000-meter Pha Luong peak, Son La Province, feast for the senses, scenic beauty, popular tourist attraction

H’mong kids in Pha Luong Village.

I followed the bare mountain path as rough winds started blowing. Tightening my hat, I proceeded on my journey, experiencing slight shortness of breath. An additional half-hour was needed before I reached Pha Luong peak on the Vietnam-Laos border.

Suddenly, as I stood still, the air around me froze. Standing on the peak along the two nations’ border, I did not feel a hint of fatigue. Though, as I traveled on a windy day, there was not a layer of clouds covering the mountain, which should have been a rare treat for the eyes at another time of the year.

To celebrate, I asked A Chong to take a photo of me on the rock ledge. The strong gusts soon forced us to commence our descent.

In the late afternoon, after paying A Chong for his excellent services, I left Pha Luong with great hopes of a return journey.

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Source: VnExpress

Journey to northern Vietnam, 2,000-meter Pha Luong peak, Son La Province, feast for the senses, scenic beauty, popular tourist attraction
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