Rice fields and hill-tribes

Sapa Travel Blog

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I awoke at 5:30AM, to some guy knocking on our door, I guess telling us we were in Lao Cai. Last night was all a bit hazy, but it seems I slept, ‘cos we finished the whisky at 1AM, so I must have passed out. Anyway, we gather all our shit, and hop onto the minibus, which will take us to Sapa. It’s only 400m from Lao Cai to the Chinese border, and the people do look a lot more Chinese up here, than further south.


It’s 38km uphill from Lao Cai to Sapa, and takes an hour, though in semi-drunk state, it seems like 5 minutes. We are dropped off at Anh Yuan hotel, which is $8 a night. Not the greatest view in Sapa, but it’s a bed, so we say yes, and sleep.


After some food, and a wander round town (which is full of Black H’Mong people and Dzao people selling their goods) we get a free tourist map from the tourist information centre, and wander in and out of the various handicraft shops. You could spend so much money here on stuff you don’t really need, but is quite cool. The Dzao people offer you Opium and Hashish, which we politely turn down. The Black H’Mong are distintinctive by their Indigo clothing (which stains everything, including their hands) and silver jewellery. The Dzao people have their hair shaved at the forehead and wear red turbans.


The map we get shows us the communications tower, which apparently has a great view of Sapa, but we get there, and it’s surrounded by trees, no view at all. The map, we find out later, is wrong. The Lonely Planet guide shows us the proper location of the tower (over the other side of town) but we can’t be arsed by then. It’s a long trek up, and on the way down 3 vicious bastards of dogs growl and bark at us, looking like they’re ready to bite. Burger wards them off, while we go for rocks, but they stop. The leader eyeballs us all the way down the hill. Mangy little gits.


I decide to book a tour, whilst we’re here, we might as well go trekking. It seems the guides are all local people, so the money is good for them, and it’s a good cultural exchange. For $16 we get a tour the next day, which involves a 6km trek from our hotel, to Lai Chau, a Black H’Mong village, then a further 2km trek (after included lunch) to Ta Van (a Dzao Village), then a jeep back.


After food at Bamboo Village ($3.50 for 6 courses!), we head to English Pub, and have a drink, but it’s cold outside, and I stupidly didn’t wash my trousers before I came here, so they stink, and are unwearable. We eventually find a pool table, though, and end up playing pool with the locals, and some H’Mong girls, who are tour guides. Two Aussie girls give us some tips and hints about trekking the next day, and we wander home at midnight, through the dead of night, that is Sapa. Vietnam is definitely not a country for nightlife lovers, it seems to die after midnight, even in the cities. It’s understandable in Sapa (a small village, but even in Hanoi it’s the same!) Oh well, I’m sure we can make up for it in Thailand!
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photo by: Paulovic