Cast your mind back to the year 1205. I’m sure you remember it well, because it was the year Ghengis Khan’s Mongol armies first crossed their borders and invaded China. In doing so they went on to conquer that whole vast country, leaving a trail of rape, terror and destruction in their wake.
I mention this because, last week, we did the same thing! Well, sort of. We didn’t conquer the whole of China, admittedly. That’d have taken more than an afternoon (its actually quite big). Nor did we leave such a trail of desolation behind. But, one warm February afternoon last week, our small platoon of a dozen hardened travellers lined up afoot a hill in far northern Vietnam right on the Chinese border, and then proceeded to invade the world’s biggest superpower with little more than a selfie stick and a few iPhones for armor.
All there was separating China from Vietnam was an easily scalable hill, which we quickly climbed. When we reached the other side, we checked Google Maps and were assured that we had now indeed entered Chinese territory. It was all really rather straight forward. I mean, I don’t know, but when you think of a border between two countries, you imagine barbed wire and spotlights and blokes with machine guns and check points. This was just a hill with some bushes and a path. Hardly Checkpoint Charlie.
For confirmation that our invasion was successful, we noted a nearby telephone pole which included only Chinese writing. The paths we found on the other side of the hill, in China, were also different, paved with a little more order and precision (dare I say, with more skill) than paths in Vietnam. So this definitely seemed like China.
The matter was put beyond doubt when we encountered a small group of youths, walking along the aforementioned path. At first they could have easily been either Chinese or Vietnamese. But then they gave themselves away: one of them walked straight up to me, and asked me to pose for a photograph with him. It’s a well known phenomenon that a Chinese person cannot be in the presence of a white person without asking to have a photograph taken with them. Bless their cotton socks. We so stopped for a photo and exchanged pleasantries. If only invasion was always such a pleasant affair.
So, yeah. There you go. We invaded China. Not bad for a morning’s work, I’m sure you’ll agree. You can invade China too, if you want too. All you need to do (Vietnamese military take note) is drive your bike or scooter to QL4C west from Dong Van, and then take a northern turn towards the Lung Cu national flagpole. Get a GPS on the go and follow the road (it’s a perfectly drivable road) until you can see you’re at the closest point right next to the border. There will be a hill to your left. Climb over it, walk down the other side, and Ghengis is your uncle!