When you know much about this rock world, set your free soul in rock valleys, rough roads that may take all of your energy to complete, or just making short exchanges with local hill-tribe peoples, you will feel your life extremely comfortable. For busy people from bustling industrial cities, when reaching the rock plateau, your stressful life seems to let go before the spectacular landscape, the immensity of rock and the simplicity of indigenous peoples.
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Along the legendary Hanh Phuc Road that runs across the Dong Van Karst Plateau, the story about more than 10 provinces struggling with rock leave a sense of might on us. That was the beginning of a process of conquering rock, fighting poverty, and winning the trust of ethnic groups living on this plateau with the road that the Party and Uncle Ho had chosen. Over the past 50 years, Hanh Phuc Road – literally, the way of happiness – is increasingly enriched by many generations, giving strength to a domain impregnable to any force of enemy. From the road with branches reaching every direction on this rock plateau, the life is getting happier, which is easily seen from rhythmical dances during weekend market days. More markets which open on certain days in a month are known to the public like Lung Phin, Sa Phin, Pho Bang, Meo Vac, Dong Van and Dong Ha. Perhaps, those fairs help cultural identities of ethnic minorities enliven and sustain more strongly. The joie de vivre of the people on the Dong Van Plateau needs to be strengthened by “market culture.” Markets are like a fountain of life aspects on this rock domain, from economy to culture, emotion and even fortunateness.
Following the steps of men and women walking slowly and relaxingly after each market day, you will feel the road, rough though, is so short, completing opposite to the feeling when you go down to the market in the morning. Market culture is not over after the fair is closed. It seems to last during the time they go along the road and reach their villages. A man sleeping like a log on the roadside seems to have nothing on earth to worry about. In the rock world, the rhythm of life seems to slow down to give way to the freedom of soul. Struggling life makes the moment of relaxation and rest more meaningful.
Climatically, the rock plateau has four different seasons but, for the people here, it has only two seasons: The season of farming and the season of loving. Life is free from industrial dust. There are only the sounds of hoeing and ploughing on rocky farms and there are days of brotherhood and friendship of people who share every sip of maize wine. The elderly usually over-drink in the happy atmosphere while the young are still shy of harsh and strong flavour of maize wine. The young invigoratingly do farming to have free time playing and resting in some rocky valleys they like. Then, after happy laughter and looks into each others’ eyes, girls will voluntarily place their palms into muscular hands of love partners they choose and follow their new husbands to their homes. The space after residential villages turns out to be the valley of love in the rock plateau. Rock and man blend together as they exist as a special affinity. Waterless and cold rock is thought to “shackle” local residents with the fetter of extreme hardships they bear to earn a living but it turns out that in the middle of immense rock world exists a peaceful life. During market days and love seasons, the rock domain turns out to be a colourful and boisterous paradise. Freedom and liberality makes ways to Khau Vai love market and many other unnamed love markets where there are no jealousy. All doubts are mixed with the running flow of rock. When someone depart their life on the rock world to fly to the heaven to gather with their ancestors, the roads to the places where the living ones see off them for the last time are also incredibly serene. Living with the stone is as great and gentle as in paradise.
Going in the middle of the rock domain, you will possibly see someone sitting with their arms holding their knees and stretch a faraway look weighed with anxiety or a woman painstakingly stripping flaxes. Sometimes, you will feel that time and space is something indefinite. It will be hard for someone just familiar with the rock world to sense this feeling. Previously, I used to be absorbed in an amorphous thinking in the middle of stone world like the people here. Miraculously, that precious silence made me understand myself after days of struggling for a living in hustling and bustling cities. It turns out that there is a paradise of freedom on this rock world.