Not too much time to write now, maybe again after dinner if this place is still open. It has been a long day, not altogether satisfactory, but we have made it to Son La, near the Lao border west of Hanoi. Spectacular scenery, obscured in part by the mist but then again all the more mysterious as a result.
We have done two days of a set itinary in one day, a cool, wet and misty one at that, with a driver whose English is not so good, better than our Vietnamese though, so I suppose there were bound to be some frustrations about where we would stop and so on. Still, it has been a good experience to get out of the city in the early morning rush hour, going against the traffic, out into the Red River Delta. First through industrial estates, then rice paddies, brick factories and bamboo and rattan furniture workshops until we were out in the country proper, going through towns and villages with small markets, selling a lot of citrus fruit, pigs and chickens. Out in the country proper, the limestone outcrops, often clad in bamboo forest made their appearance and eventually ended up as high mountains with windy paths over the passes from one valley to the next.
As mentioned above, we would have lunch at a Black Thai Village where we both bought scarves (albeit ones made in China) to keep a bit warm before losing our way a bit taking the old road to Son La. It is supposed to have spectacular views but not when there is only 10 meter visibility and this was something we could not communicate with our driver, Mr Nang, condedemning us to an hour of slow very bumpy driving through the mist with the only bright spots being the poinsettia forest we drove through. After this we were subject to a bit of a go slow and by the time we reached a minority village, the light was gone. Happy to say though that it had brightened up considerably by then and we saw the sun again for the first time in three days, boding well for tomorrow, although the lady from the hotel does not think it'll be sunny. Still, we have a normal day tomorrow, starting off at the Son Lo prison where the French incarcerated the Vietnamese resistance, going onto a cave, a minority market and finally Dieng Bieng Pho, where teh Vietnamese finaly beat the French.