Six millions years ago, the Northwestern parts of Vietnam were deep under the sea. After three naturally physiographical changes, especially new global creation of 100 millions years ago, Hoang Lien mountain appeared to be a lofty and long range.
It is 280 kilometres long from Phong Tho to Hoa Binh and the widest of the mountain is 75 kilometres, the narrowest is 45 kilometre with three peaks: Bach Mong Luong Tip, Fanxipan (3.143 metres) and Pu Luong. The whole range is a miraculously natural museum, rich in a diverse fauna with more than 700 species.
Under the range are plenty of kapok or jackfruit trees and hundred of other species, famous with the names: Coc Leu (kapoks) or Coc San (jackfruits). At the height of 700 metres, there is a tropical green belt of virginal forests, bushy densely-grown. At 700 metres higher, there are old trees, so big that three or four men can't hold and of normally 50 - 60 metres tall and hundred of years of age - po mu, known as goldmine in Lao Cai. Apart from po mu, there are precious others: lanh sam, thiet sam, lieu sam, kim sam, hoang dan and the needlelike-leaf plants intertwine with kinds lower plants, wet always, because the higher it's the more rainy it seems. Sometimes it rains for a month on end.
Colourful flowers: rhododendrons or yellows hide among green foliage that make the whole Sa Pa look like a flowered shirt: lay on, thuoc duck... the flowers that are rarely to be found in the lowlands.
Rhodendrons alone, have four branches and 20 species, here and there in the region, nothing can be seen but flowers only. Orchids in Vietnam vary in 111 branches and 643 species, Fanxipan only owns 330 species.
It's also home to sub-tropical fruit-trees such as: peach, plum, apricot .... Especially, peaches in Hoang Lien are big and tasty. By the end of June, the whole region is reddened with peaches, the end of the season, another kind, ie yellow peaches, distinguished in taste and flavour Sa Pa's plums are worth trying, it varies in species, but all are sweet and tasty, typically Ta Van plums, very rich in fruits.
At a height of 2.400 metres forests meet clouds and wind.
Sometimes, it seems to hold clouds in arms but from 2.800m higher, it's clear, the whole sky looks cloudless, surprisingly clear, but it's windy, so windy that green trees have to hold tight to the stone. Everywhere, it's covered with low ivory-bamboo. Only 25 - 30 centimetres tall, it's also called: feather-brush bamboo, because there's only one or two leaves on. There are also rush-like plants, rose-like flowers or butter-cups...
At the height of 2.963 metres, there is a stone set up by the French in 1905 to mark the first conquer of the range. Higher to the top, there's a large stone-block lying on smaller ones that look like a stone table, i.e. the peak of Fanxipan, originally given the name locally: Huaxi-Pan, meaning a large stone block on the mountain: the peak stone seem to be touched by clouds.
Fanxipan is said to be the roof of the Vietnam house, lofty and conquering the hearts and souls of those who wish to reach it, the climbers, the researchers and the adventure tourists.
Nhandan - (29/10/2003)