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Stunning scenery in Sapa

Sapa Travel Blog

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Picturesque part of Cat Cat village

We took a night train from Hanoi to Sapa on the 18th and arrived in Lao Chai station at 5.30 am. The train was suprisingly comfortable with soft beds and snuggly douvets. Although we managed to get a little bit of sleep we were still very tired, from the train we got onto a mini bus which would take us to our hotel in Sapa. Bleary eyed we looked out of the window of the bus and although we were half asleep we could still appreciate the beautiful surroundings we were driving through. After half an hour of driving through a mountain pass we arrived in Sapa. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were surrounded by the noise and colour of the tribal women who were trying to tempt us to buy their wares.

The H'Mong Mafia!!
Once we had managed to escape we dumped our bags in the hotel, got some breakfast and then decided to find somewhere to have a strong coffee. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel we were appraoched by more ladies wanting to sell us their goods, after saying "no thank you" about 10 times we nipped into a cafe and ordered a strong Vietnamese drip coffee. After our coffee we decided that we definately needed a nap so made our way back to the hotel. After our power nap we woke up and decided to take a small trek to a village called Cat Cat where some of the H'Mong people reside. The H'Mong is probably the largest tribe which resides around Sapa and is one of 5 tribes which have made this region their home; the Red Zao (the women where red head dresses), the Black H'Mong, the H'Mong, the Tay and the Xa Pho people.
H'Mong girl

Cat Cat was a relatively small village set in the valley of the mountain range. In the middle of the village flows a substantial waterfall which is quite pretty. The villagers houses are made from bamboo and mud and each family usually has their own farm animals and patch of land on which they grow rice and corn. The way that rice is grown in this region is really interesting as the land is made into steps, each step being planted with rice, it breaks the landscape up and looks pretty cool! On the walk to Cat Cat from Sapa we were accompanied by 3 ladies from the H'mong, who obviously wanted to try their luck and eventually get us to buy some things from them but before they got down to business, we had a lovely conversation and it was really surreal walking down a mud track with 3 traditionally dressed tribal ladies, I felt quite under dressed and dull looking!

The next day we had booked to do a one day trek which took us to 3 villages; 2 H'Mong and 1 Red Zao.

H'Mong ladies
The trek was a great chance to gain a small insight into the daily life of a villager and it was a really interesting day. Each villager has their own farm animals and they share the land and the work that goes with it. The main plants grown are corn and rice but they also plant things like Indigo which the H'Mong use to dye their clothing. All the clothing worn by the villagers is hand made and each tribe has its own distinctive clothing. Tourism for the villagers is like a mixed blessing, on one hand it provides the main income for most of the families in the villages but on the other hand it brings with it new technology and development which can entice the villagers out of their tradition. However, at the moment it seems to be working and hopefully it will continue to do so.
Walking through the villages

For our final full day in Sapa we decided to hire Motos (motorbike taxis) and go check out a mountain pass which we hadnt yet visited and see a waterfall which was on the way. The waterfall was the first stop and it was absolutely beautiful, it was a very peaceful place to stop and for the first time in a while we heard bird song which was really nice. Alot of the wildlife here is hunted, the birds are caught and then sold as pets. Whilst in the H'Mong village we saw some children practicing their sling shot aim on butterflys so nothing here is really safe!! After our visit to the waterfall we drove on through the beautiful scenery to a kind of view point. Looking out across the lush mountains which stood strong for as far as the eye could see was breath takingly beautiful.

Stepped rice field
 Dashing down the sides of a few of the mountains you could see some waterfalls and the sky which was a lovely shade of turquoise blue gave the perfect backing for the awe inspiring scene in front of us. I felt truly lucky to have been there and seen the stunning landscape and just hope that it is still going to be there in 10 years time, I am worried however that it won't be.

Today we are taking the night train back to Hanoi, I would definately recommend a visit to Sapa for anyone thinking of coming to Vietnam. Sapa is a place where you can mingle with really interesting looking, beautiful traditional people and see some amazing sights. All in all a great place to travel to.

kumikob says:
I will definitely have to go there for my 2nd trip! Thanks for sharing :)
Posted on: Oct 21, 2010
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Picturesque part of Cat Cat village
Picturesque part of Cat Cat village
The HMong Mafia!!
The H'Mong Mafia!!
HMong girl
H'Mong girl
HMong ladies
H'Mong ladies
Walking through the villages
Walking through the villages
Stepped rice field
Stepped rice field
Baby on board
Baby on board
Sapa
photo by: Paulovic