Using the smugglers route to cross from Vietnam into China

In May 2016 I visited Lung Cu all the way up the most northern part of Vietnam but this is not what this story is about

After Lung Cu I thought it would be cool to see the border here. I’m drawn towards the border because I’m intrigued with the idea that a border to a country as closed as China would be completely unsupervised. I’ve always had this idea of a completely remote border, you know, without even a border control post where only shepherds roam somewhere deep in the mountains.

As I drove out the road the pavement suddenly stopped and before me was about 6 motorbikes and a tiny dirt path along the ridge of the mountain. It looked like something you would only want to walk and the direction took you straight towards China. This is it I guess – the border.

I could see pretty far ahead and it looked like at least a 15-minute walk down along a very muddy path before anything would change so I decided to opt against it. However, as I turned around a little bit I noticed a definite path going up the mountain, not towards China, so I figured it would be safe to go up there, at least for the view over the valley.

When I got up I saw several road marker stones with skulls on them all over the area. Skulls, just skulls. Frightening.

Thoughts of land mines and stuff like that popped up in my head and I was about to turn around. Enough is enough.

But when I was about to turn around I saw a shepherd with two cows on a definite path, albeit small, meaning that at least it would be safe, landmine wise – and so I continued towards him.

Around the corner I saw a paved road pop out in the middle of nowhere, Chinese signs and more skulls. I’m pretty sure this was the border. I walked up on the pavement, talked some with the farmer – who was Chinese! – and walked back to my bike.

On the way out, with mud all over my shoes, I got some concerned looks from locals who could only wonder what I’d been doing out there. I’ve heard from other people that the area is used for smugglers as well – which would make sense since it’s so easy and remote.

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