Located five kilometres from Cốc Pài Town, Xín Mần District, Suôi Thầu Steppe is an attractive place in the west of the northern mountainous province of Hà Giang. Suôi Thầu still retains its wild, rustic features.
Crossing the winding road to Suôi Thầu Village, we saw a vast steppe covering hundreds of hectares at an altitude of 1,200m above sea level.
We used to dream of steppes with endless grasslands like some parts of the European countryside. We wished that we could wear vintage clothing to take pictures with giant hay bales. But it was a distant dream, and also because we didn’t know our homeland had such a beautiful place like Suôi Thầu Steppe.
Suôi Thầu Steppe doesn’t stretch as endlessly as the fields in Europe that we dreamed of, but it is enough to make us feel extremely small.
We walked in the middle of the steppe, not grass but the rice and corn fields, dotted with rustic pine trees, making us think of somewhere in Europe. The strips of rice, corn, and grass mixed together like a multi-coloured brocade strip in the free shape of nature.
From the steppe, we could see many beautiful communes such as Pà Vầy Sủ, Chí Cà, Thèn Phàng, Cốc Rế and Cốc Pài Town. Dotted around that majestic picture are rice fields and green orchards like rivers winding around three sides of the steppe.
Standing on a high windy slope, in front of us are mountains, clouds drifting overhead, and deep below is the deep green the Chảy River. We felt touched by this wonderful beauty.
We sat leaning against the old pine trees, watching the new rice plants fluttering in the wind. We had a feeling of warmth, vitality and peace.
A few ethnic Mông women with flowered skirts walked on the trail, their backbaskets full of corncobs. They talked and laughed while walking. A few herds of buffalo were grazing along the edge of the forest. Sometimes we heard the bells under the necks of the buffalo and the sounds of children playing in the wind.
Not only captivated with the wild beauty, Suôi Thầu Steppe enchanted us with its wild flowers. At this time, Suôi Thầu was covered with the pure pink colour of the “flower of the stone”, buckwheat.
Sùng Văn Sin, head of Suôi Thầu Village, said that when considering the buckwheat flower, people often think of Đồng Văn Stone Plateau. However, in Xín Mần, buckwheat has been planted by locals for many generations. In the past, when life was still difficult, people planted buckwheat to make cakes. This flower is still associated with the life of people here. In October and November every year, the buckwheat stretches to show off its brilliant colours in Suôi Thầu Village.
Xín Mần District is nearly 150km from the centre of Hà Giang City. With a remote location and rugged roads, this place is less known to tourists than other destinations in the province.
Travelling the dangerous roads to the district, we were amazed by the scenery. Gradually appearing in front of our eyes were the overlapping mountains, steppes and immense primeval forests.
Each season, Xín Mần welcomes visitors in a different way: September – October is the fragrant aroma of ripe rice from the terraced fields; the early days of winter are the dreamy pink colour of buckwheat flowers covering the hillsides; spring and summer are the majestic scenery of verdant mountains and clear rivers and lakes.
With an area of nearly 600sq.km, Xín Mần is currently home of ethnic groups such as the Nùng, Mông, Tày, Dao, La Chí, Phù Lá, Hoa, and Cao Lan with diverse cultural identities.
The kindness and sincerity of the ethnic people here make for a very peaceful experience. Upland rice here is the product of nature, heaven and earth and human labour, making the rice bowls delicious, and the rice wine served to guests strangely fragrant. VNS