Sapa Travel Blog› entry 14 of 20 › view all entries
April 13th, 2009 – by: Harrietknowles
Sorry about the lack of news in a while, we have been so busy! We got the 12 hour sleeper to Sapa in the north west of Vietnam, with a view to going for a nice walk in the hills and meeting some "minority" people as they are so called here- although in Sapa the tribesmen and women make up 60% of the population. We arrived at the truly horrific hour of about 4am in the morning and we ushered onto a minibus to take us to Sapa. The road to Sapa is terrifying, very very very windy and steep and our minibus broke down twice on the way there. I think his engine might have been overheating, but thank god it wasn't his brakes! When you arrive in Sapa, around 7am if you get the train - you are literally hounded by touts trying to get you to stay at their hotel. We were so tired we just took the first room we came across - the rather grotty Mountain View, and had showers. We had a great English Breakfast at the red dragon pub, and decided to take a motorbike tour around Sapa to cover as many sights as possible, and then do a short trek tommorow. The tour was good, but our guide didn't speak any english really, or his accent was really strong - I couldn't tell which! The mountains here are really beautiful and dramatic, and seeing how the grow the rice crops is actually really interesting. The villagers here are very tourist savvy, they speak a smattering of english and have lots of wares they want to hawk. Some travellers we saw had a whole entourage of villagers following them! Communities here are very poor, so you can't blame them really - though I did manage to talk to one of the young villagers who was the same age as me about her life, and learnt a smattering of information from my guide. The villagers in Sapa marry very young usually, around 16 but I think they get to choose their own partners at events called Love Markets. They only go to school for a couple of years if they are lucky, and then they have to make a living through the land. The only negative thing about the motorbike tour (apart from the lack of english!) is that some of the roads here are not really roads - they are very bumpy and rocky dirt tracks. The tour was 6 hours in total, and I was worried my bum would never be the same again. The next day we had a bit of an unfortunate time, if you come to Sapa, never eat at the Lotus Restaurant - it will make you very sick - and we ended up getting the sleeper back in the evening. Sapa is worth the trip, but bring something warm with you as the weather can turn quite easily, and be prepared for the fog!
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