You cannot go to South East Asia without hearing about Sapa, and you can tell somebody who has been there by the fabric bracelet that they have inevitably been sold by the locals.
It is a travelers dream – a mountaintop town surrounded by cascading rice paddies, minority villages with the people bedecked in colourful fabrics, breathtaking scenery and fantastic trekking. However, getting there and arranging said trek is another matter. Feeling overwhelmed by options and a bit lazy (out of character we know – perhaps it was the New Years drinking) we booked a three day trek with homestay so through Central Hostel.
After our night bus ride, we were met by Ly, our wonderful guide from the H’mong tribe. We inwardly sighed as we could barely see our hands I front of our face, the fog was so thick. But, as we started our hilarious expedition down the steep rice paddies, the clouds cleared and we were awarded some beautiful views through the valleys. We spent the next four hours slipping and sliding our way down and around the muddy hillside. We were given the option at one point of ‘hard route’ or ‘easy route’. Of course, despite Abby’s reservations, we took the hard route with a pair of kiwi guys, leaving the rest of the group on the easy route. We were a lot muddier, but had much more fun!
Over the next three days we saw some amazing scenery, walked some stunning paths, met some wonderful people (Western and minority tribes), drank a lot of rice liquor (happy water) and apple liquor (happy tea) in home stays and discovered a new card game called Swedish A**hole. Pictures can’t do it justice, but we will, as usual, try our best. Abby’s could, but we still can’t get them off the camera…..
On our last day, the sun finally decided to make an appearance and once we arrived back in Sapa, what had been a white wall of cloud had become one of the best views in the world. How could we leave!?
So, we spent another day in Sapa, browsing markets, buying a few souvenirs (those H’mong and Red Dzao ladies sure can sell) and particularly buying Abby a H’mong skirt which she is very proud of! Of course, much of the day was spent drinking in the view, while drinking up a local beer – the extremely watery Lao Cai.
We would still probably be there if it wasn’t for the call of Ha Long Bay and some sunshine. So, back on the bus to Hanoi we went. Two hours sleep later we arrived at 3am in Hanoi and got another two hours sleep on a sofa in a hostel, before starting off to Cat Ba Island. Coming soon!