Ha Giang has unique roofs

Moss-covered roof houses of the Tay people, concentrated mainly in valleys with terraced fields – Photo: GIA THINH

Entering Ha Giang city, you have nothing to be impressed with, if not to say, it is old and poorer than the lowland towns. But just go to the suburbs 5 km away, the impression will come and not forget.

The roofs of ethnic communities in Ha Giang and Northeast are generally made of leaves, tiles, or stone with colors and textures suitable to the general landscape of the whole area. Just one roof but evokes many things about a land.

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 2.

The dull black tile roof of the H’Mong is located deep inside the Dong Van plateau. Photo: GIA THINH

Phuong Do Commune (Ha Giang City) – inhabited by the Tay community – “pulls” visitors across the road with the image of thick roofs made from palm leaves. Walking across the main road, looking at the village, emerging among the palm color, green bamboo is black and brown roofs but not in a space full of wild nature.

I remember when I arrived at Phuong Do when I returned in the afternoon, the mist fell on the roof but kept on, there was no way to get inside. Thanks to that, the wooden stilt houses seem fragile but always warm-cool depending on winter or summer.

The leaf roof is thicker than a glove and is tied, diseased with bamboo strips that have been soaked for many years. In each roofing sheet are many layers of overlapping leaves, at first glance fragile but depend on each other to protect the house on stilts from sunlight and rain.

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 3.

Tourists enjoy taking pictures with the roof covered with moss – Photo: GIA THINH

The house I live in is of Mr. Nghia – Ha Thanh village. This roof, he said, is the one that the village works for together. Not selling, not buying, everyone in the village contributed to braiding his roof when he built the house.

By the time other people built the house, no one called, he also contributed himself. The tighter the roof, the more durable, the closer the feelings of people in the village are.

The Tay and Nung go to cut old palm leaves, the broken branches in the palm garden of the house or in the big forest bring them to dry, then make them ready, waiting for the day to set up the nest. 

I heard from Nghia about building a house, I said it was like fighting the enemy, it must be long term. Nghia laughed loudly because the corn wine yeast was making him excited. 

He said: “Fighting against the enemy or building a house also has the same purpose of protecting the nest. There are only different things, big and small. So long term is right”.

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 4.

The leaf roof, the roof tiled with fish scales harmonize in the space of the hills and mountains Northeast – Photo: GIA THINH

From Ha Thanh village, I followed a small road in the mountain to go 25 km to Khuoi My. Beautiful terraced fields. Beautiful forest mountains. And the mossy roofs come to magical or far away. 

Perhaps Khuoi My is located in the middle of a primeval forest with high humidity, so the roof is covered with moss. The moss covers almost completely, making the roof no longer brown, but green. Strange roof, beautiful, special impression.

Beauty makes people rejoice, but also evokes lost thoughts. Looking at the mossy patches, many times I wonder when these beautiful roofs will be lost.

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 5.

Wooden stilt house with tiled roof made by Lo Lo people. The Lo Lo’s house is a special feature of construction in Dong Van rocky plateau – Photo: GIA THINH

The roof is beautiful but a feat, the corrugated iron roof is not beautiful but convenient. And lose something, Ha Giang lost the roof? Are not! Take up a whole space. 

I asked my friends, no one told them to come to Ha Giang because of the leaf roofs, nor to see the black tiled roofs. They come for the harmonious life between people and the magnificent space of Ha Giang rocky mountains.

But if the unique roofs made of leaves, tiles, or stones are replaced with corrugated iron roofs, the landscape space will be distorted. The harmony that was created long ago is lost and hard to save. Ha Giang’s tourist attraction will also be greatly reduced.

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 6.

The corrugated iron roof lacks harmony with the surrounding space, making the space dry – Photo: GIA THINH

Ha Giang is too attractive for tourism development, and so beautiful, that people feel sorry if the beauty is just a little chipped. And the Ha Giang roofs are not just “a little”!

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 7.

Tourists enjoy taking pictures with the tile roof in the middle of the cherry blossom season – Photo: GIA THINH

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 8.

The thick moss layer covering the roof is very unique, the inside is still dry. – Photo: GIA THINH

Ha Giang has unique roofs - Photo 9.

The hotel on top of Ma Pi Leng (Meo Vac district, Ha Giang province) is an example of the lack of harmony in the construction that distorts the landscape in the area – Photo: GIA THINH

Tuoi Tre