Monday, November 29, 2010

Sapa Home stay

Having heard such incredible stories and planning to go since arriving in Vietnam I couldn’t wait to visit the Northern Vietnamese mountainous town of Sapa. I was looking forward to relishing the fresh air in my lungs, witnessing the ethnic tribes’ lives and seeing some truly unforgettable views. Leaving on the Friday evening from Hanoi train station we boarded upon the sleeper train that would take us to Lao Cai Station. Settling into the bunk beds we watched out the window as we left Hanoi city centre and hit the outskirts of the buzzing city. Falling asleep on the bumpy tracks I slept through and was awoken as the train came into the sleepy town of Lao Cai.

Bustling through the station we were greeted and taken onto a mini bus and off we took to head through the mountains to Sapa. Upon reaching the bottom of the mountain the bus drove up the winding roads and hit the foggy mountain side. The views were something to marvel at, the greenery was luscious and dense. After an hours journey we arrived in Sapa town, passing the town square where the ethnic tribes and tourists together combed through the market for a bargain. Upon arrival at the hotel we got our first real view over Sapa and the surrounding valley. It was break-taking, and everything I desired it to be.

After breakfast we were introduced to our tour leader, a 17 year old identical twin called Vang. She spoke fluent English and explained to us that she had learnt it all from tourists. Walking along we were suddenly presented with the most incredible views over Sapa, miles and miles of rice fields and towering hills and path ways looking like fine lines on the mountain sides. She taught us about how the ethnic people make their own clothes from the plants in the valleys and their tribes’ traditions.

Walking further we were given the option to take the ‘off the beaten track’ pathway to the home stay. Of course we jumped at the chance to witness what other tourists don’t and off we set on the challenging terrain that makes up Sapa. The H’Mong women guiding us are something to marvel at, not once did they struggle whilst carrying 40kg packs on their backs and flip flops upon their feet. When I asked if they had even fallen over into the rice paddies they laughed at me claiming never to have fallen over. After walking 12km in the glorious scenery we arrived at the home stay late afternoon and watched the sun setting and night arriving upon the valleys. We enjoyed a true Vietnamese dinner, with rice wine setting the evening off.

Awaking in the morning we were guided through more of the land, ending our trip over a waterfall looking out over the amazing views. The height over the valley meant we were able to see for miles around. It was a truly memorable sight for all of those doing the trip.

We arrived back in Sapa as the fog began to set in, clouding all the views and showing us how lucky we were to have the weather on our side. The sunshine had shone all weekend and given us an unforgettable trip in Sapa.

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