The main road.
Well, that wasn't what I expected at all. Ha Giang town isn't a particularly interesting place. There seem to be more dogs than motorbikes in most places. Even the town centre, a modernish place, doesn't seem to be a hive of activity. I tried to have lunch there, but it all seemed to be closed. I had nothing to eat until about five this evening when I noticed that the little place opposite the hotel was cooking up some brochettes, which were very good and cheap. Until then I'd subsisted on coffee and a couple of cans of beer. Spent this morning trying to find ways to get up to Thon Tha Village, which, according to the Internet is only 10km from here. Even taxi drivers didn't seem to have heard of it. At least, I think that's what they said, as no-one here, with the exception of young kids, seems to speak anything but Vietnamese.
Now I know what you're going to say, but it is a huge problem when you're stuck up a mountain with seemingly no way of getting back down again. For example, you can get by asking a German or Italian a question featuring the word 'manana,' and they'll probably understand. Here is not the same. Even ordering a meal is a major task. You can go for pot luck, but you don't know whether you've ordered a bowl of soup or a pair of Wellington Boots.
Thus I went to the bus station, having given up on the idea of visiting the Tay village. Even gestures are met with blank stares. One guy offered me a cigarette, but that was as far as I got. Finally, I went back to the hotel, having spent all morning trying to get on top of the situation, and got onto Google translate. I used the feature where you can hear what it sounds like, which in itself isn't so easy with a tonal language, and wrote down what I thought it was phonetically.
It sort of worked. I discovered that, theoretically, there is a repeat trip back down to Lào Cai tomorrow at six in the morning. I say theoretically, as they don't go unless they can fill the bus with more vomit enthusiasts. From there, I hope to get a bus to Dien Bien Phu, (Don't listen to this bit if you're French).
Something to look forward to tomorrow.
I've only got until Saturday to get to the Laos border.
It really is very frustrating, as the landscape is magnificent. The two girls I travelled with yesterday hired a scooter to have a look around. It was twice the price of anywhere else, even after some serious haggling. I'm not a scooter rider, especially considering that other road users all drive like lunatics over pot-holed roads. Going up a mountain in those conditions doesn't appeal.
I knew that I'd have a few moments like this and so far am managing to stay calm and philosophical about the whole thing. Am praying that I can get on that bus tomorrow, even if I do have to hand out more sick bags. I'll certainly use my elbows to get a front seat.