AsiaVietnamSa Pa

Scaring children when off the beaten path

Sa Pa Travel Blog

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The next day we decided to set off on the back of William's and Michael's bikes to avoid falling down the mountain like last time. Which turned out to be an awesome decision because we ended up going off roading with little motorbikes when really we needed dirt bikes. If I had to drive down the roads we did, I would have definitely skidded off the side of the mountain. We set off late from Sa Pa again towards a village whose name I don't remember because we actually mistakenly ended up in *** (I think Bau Phang maybe, will check with the boys), this village didn't seem to get any Western tourists. We arrived on our motorbikes and hopped off much to the surprise of the entire village. We started walking up the hill with William and Michael up front and Regina and myself in the back when Regina and I hear children screaming. Oh my god was my first reaction. They beat children here. It turned out that the children were running away screaming from William and Michael because they were tall and blonde and William has rather long wavy blond locks. As soon as we came up the hill and the children saw Regina and me, much shorter with dark hair, they seemed mollified and started coming back out. We had an entourage of little children curiously following us. We made the move to take out our cameras and they all ran away and into the house, and I cajoled them out by taking a picture of a wild dog and showing it to them, proving that nothing bad happened. I managed to take a few pictures and then continued up the hill. William came back down the hill and took a picture of a woman and then tried to take a picture of her grandchild who was on her back, but the woman held out her hand. Initially, we thought she wanted money, but we deduced that she was just saying that she didn't want us to take a picture. We read in Lonely Planet that some tribes in the area think taking a picture of someone is equivalent to taking their souls. Oops. Hopefully we didn't steal anyone's souls. We walked to the top of the hill with the children behind us and the old woman with her grandchild leading us. The wonder these children had at seeing us made me think they had never seen a Westerner. But I did spy a dish satellite up ahead so it wasn't as if we were in the middle of nowhere. We hurried back down to the bottom of town to ensure that we could return to Sa Pa in time to catch our bus back to Lao Cai to take the night train to Hanoi. We couldn't resist scarfing down instant noodles in a hut at the bottom of this town though. Once well fed, we hopped back on the bikes and sped back to Sa Pa. We got back and ran into Mee, who was expecting us to buy from her store, and I felt so guilty because I had no money left. I had loaned all my money to Regina who had to pay the driver of the car she hit. She gave us her email address nonetheless and a hug goodbye. Very sweet. A trifle different from the hotel staff who made us take 5 quick shots of rice wine in sucession to wish us a safe journey. Then they made us try porcupine that one of the guys had caught somewhere. Tasty sauce but little chewy consistency. And the 5 shots made our ride down the mountain all the more enjoyable. Hopped on the night train back to Hanoi wishing we had stayed one more day in Sa Pa.

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Sa Pa
photo by: amylaichareonsup