Tề Lỗ – Scrapyard Town
For anybody who has just even a mild interest in motorbikes, engines or machinery- Te Lo makes for an intriguing visit. This 4km square village is home to over 700 scrapyards, mechanical parts garages and vehicle dealerships.
Each dealer here specializes in one area of vehicles or parts. You can see hundreds of decommissioned motorbikes, piles of scooter engines chaotically piled upon one another, yards of excavators, big diesel engines and refurbished cars.
If you are looking for a certain part for a vehicle, it’s almost certainly somewhere in Te Lo – the challenge is trying to find it. The amount of gear for sale is staggering and if you are on a motorbike tour in the area it a fascinating stop for an hour or two.
From Rags to Riches
Back in the 1960s Te Lo was just a basic farming community that raised mostly poultry for meat and feathers and buffalos. Sometime in the 70s the collection of scrap metal began and as locals realized this practice produced a higher income, more and more people started following suit.
Initially vehicles were sold whole for scrap and later on, folk understood that stripping a vehicle for parts could turn a higher profit. The diligent people of Te Lo not only undertook the task of learning about mechanics but also travelled up and down the country, even sometimes abroad to source defunct machinery and vehicles in disrepair. Slowly the scrapyard industry developed.
This trade developed further as locals learnt to repair old engines and transport – gaining yet higher returns for their efforts at resale. They also learnt to target the parts and machines that were in demand at the time.
Nowadays many citizens of Te Lo have been rewarded for their tireless efforts and the town is home to many multi-billionaires (In Vietnam Dong) that are of a young age. Vehicles are now sold online and even exported as far as Europe and the Middle-east.
Farming in Te Lo and the Surrounding Area
In recent years there has been another development by the savvy people of Te Lo in the farming sector. The cultivation of Demon chilli (also known as birds-eye chilli) has taken hold.
This particular chilli is resistant to the North’s cold winters and produces bountiful harvests. Farmers can now make 3 to 4 times the amount of profit than previous crops.
It is hoped that the produce will soon be exported to foreign markets such as China, Korea and Japan where the Demon chilli is decidedly popular.
Places to Visit Nearby
Te Lo is only 30km south of Tam Đảo National Park, a forested mountain range that was once a summer retreat for French Colonials.
It’s an excellent motorbike ride to the top of the mountain along a windy, steep yet well paved road. There are also some very good off-road trails around the park if you know where to go.
On the west side of the mountain there is the Tây Thiên Pagoda a site of early Buddhism that now has a cable car to its top.