Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Thanh Hoa, Vietnam
Pu Luong Nature Reserve Thanh Hoa Reviews
Untouched beauty! May 26, 2011
I wasn't surprised that nobody had written about Pu Luong. A part of me didn't actually want to write a review of this natural wonderland. Pu Luong nature reserve remains untouched by the clutches of tourism and manages to retain its delightful sense of humanity and magic. For this hillside haven to become just another Sapa would be a travesty in my opinion...
Like everyone, when I thought of trekking and home-staying in Vietnam, I immediately thought of Sapa...this is what Lonely Planet told me to do after all right? I visited Sapa and for me, it was a massive anticlimax! Sure the landscape was amazing to behold, but the whole place stank of commercialism. On our hike our tour guide took us to her Grandmas house, which coincidentally happened to be a makeshift shop...this about sums up Sapa.
Pu Luong's scenic majesty not only matches that of Sapa, it goes beyond it profoundly! The lush green landscape of the rice fields is strikingly intense and as you walk through the hillside you feel privileged to be one of the lucky few to take those steps. It's difficult and pretty expensive to reach, I myself chartered a private personal guide to take me by motorbike through the villages.
The journey is ruggedly picturesque and the people you meet along the way are genuinely curious. Unlike Sapa nobody will try to sell you bags or postcards, they will however open their hearts to you. Everybody is just living off the land and willing to share everything they possess with a rare guest. Driving the motorcycle soon becomes impossible and you have to hike an intense journey through the hills. You pass through a variety of tiny villages built on wooden stilts and witness the locals working in the rice fields. My guide was superb and he explained to me how these people were so distanced from the civilized world of Vietnam. They spoke their own language and they still performed archaic customs to this day. He told me a story about a local tradition relating to the birth of children. Apparently if the Mother dies during child birth, this is perceived as a sign that the child is evil. The child is then buried alive with the Mother...interesting if not macabre!
I slept in the top floor of my homestay families house and was completely at one with nature like never before. In the evening everyone celebrated my presence and we all drank Pu Luong water (rice wine) until the early hours. The landscape was precious, but the people I met were what made my journey so unforgettably special.
Nothing I have ever done quite compares to those few days I spent in Pu Luong and probably never will!
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