Sapa Travel Blog› entry 34 of 55 › view all entries
Today, is our day of trekking! After so much debate about it all, I'm really looking forward to it. Meeting the H'Mong girls last night (who were all tour guides) and talking to the Aussie girls, made me really excited. After the usual hostel breakfast of baguette, butter and jam, our guide, Du, picks us up from our hostel. At first, she is quite quiet, but after a while starts chatting, and we have a good laugh together. Her English is quite good, considering she didn’t go to school.
It ends up being a private tour (well, if you consider private to be myself, Burger, Du, and 2 H’Mong ladies who attach themselves to us when we walk past Sapa market!). Oh, and the H’Mong children (all girls), and the mass of our tours who end up being one big mish-mash of a group in the end, anyway. It’s 6km, downhill, to Lai Chau, from Sapa. It starts off being a nice tarmac road, up to our first stop, at which point all tour groups have merged. There are some absolutely fantastic views of the rice fields, and traditional Bamboo homes on the way down.
After a little break, it starts to get dodgy. The “path” turns into mud, then a stream, then rocks, and I’m reminded of our waterfall adventure in Dalat, where death was so close. The H’Mong help us crazy, unbalanced Westerners along the “path”, which takes in some stunning scenery, which unfortunately, most of the time you’re too busy trying to stay upright to take in! The little girls run past, not even looking down, and even the older H’Mong women, find it a doddle. They do this route everyday to sell their goods in Sapa, but still!
My life flashes before my eyes, then eventually we get to another stop. From here, it’s only 30 mins to Lai Chau, Du assures me. The Westerners all sit down, sweaty, and stinky, and the H’Mong’s just stand around, some of the ladies with babies on back, wondering what all the fuss is about. The last half an hour is easier, up and then down hill, until we reach the village of Lai Chau, and have lunch. The lunch consists of bread, meat, eggs, and fruit, and is really filling. The views of the mountains and streams from the lunch point, are quite breathtaking. It’s nice to sit down and actually appreciate it, without concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.
We were told not to tip, but the way to do it is to pay the H’Mong ladies who came down with us, for some of their wares. I buy a pillowcase (essential!) and a wallet (birthday present for someone!) and the lady gives me a free bracelet. They are very kind people, without my H’Mong guide, I would have fallen into the stream, if not died. So, I really don’t mind paying them at all…
It’s off to Ta Van, a Dzao village, after lunch, and compared to before, it’s a cinch! 2km feels like nothing. It took 2 1/2 hours in the morning to cover 6km, and 2km is done in an hour. We pass through Du’s boyfriend’s home town, and she stops in to say hello. At this point, Burg has acquired a stick off one of the little girls, and is using it to great effect. In Ta Van, there is a monkey tied up, which seems a bit cruel and pointless, and a bridge of death, which Burger traverses, but I don’t dare put my weight on there too, so I sit down and watch. After watching some guys hit an opium pipe, it’s time to get back to Sapa, and Du comes back with us in the jeep. I thought it would be awkward having just us 2 and a guide, but she turned out to be cool, and really funny. She spoke good English too, and had a laugh.
We have dinner at Buffalo Bell’s, and I have some goose. After a few drinks and pool with the H’Mong, and shithead (which the H’Mong girls know!), we go to bed, knackered, but throughly glad to have trekked! Oh yeah, Burg has bird flu.