I travelled from Hanoi up to Sapa in north Vietnam on the overnight train, a popular way of doing this trip and far safer than the overnight bus.
The scenary in Sapa is amazing, especially when you think it has been transformed by hand, farmers for hundreds of years have farmed and created the rice terraces cut into the hillside. The temperature is a lot lower than in Hanoi and quite often the mist comes rolling through at different times of the day.
In and around the hills of Sapa live what are know as the minority groups, different groups of people who originally came from different areas/countrys and settled in the hills. Some came from China, some from Laos, some from Burma. Each has their own costume and have their own design on clothes and jewellery.Apparantly they use to keep themselves to themselves but now as the children all go to school together they live happily together and work together.
The biggest activity to do in Sapa is trekking in the hillsides and as it was a busy holiday period i decided to book a 3 day trek to get out of town for a while. I booked a custom tour which meant there was just me and a guide, not a big tour group. I had already done a one day trek but it was the same as most people do if they haven’t got much time. As soon as the mini bus stopped the souvenir sellers swarmed the bus and then followed us around throughout the whole day.
Fortunately that didn’t happen again as we went off to places where there were very little tourists. The scenary in Sapa is fantastic and all the more impressive when you think that the whole landscape has been crafted by hand, the rice terraces have been cut high up hundreds of feet into the hillside.
The people that live up in Sapa are very poor, all the food they grow they keep to feed themselves and their cattle. On my trek me and my guide came across a group of children who simply playing in a muddy field. My guide gave them simple biscuits and washed their hands with her water, even she must have been worried for them even though she must see this all the time.
Up in the clouds in Sapa.
The Tea Bag bath. The local Hmong people like nothing more than stewing up a load of leaves and twigs for an hour and then putting the water in the bath. You then sit in it for as hot as you can take for 15-30 minutes. After a days hiking in the hills this seemed like a very good idea. I didn’t fit very well into the barell but it kind of worked. I don’t know if it was just the hot water or not but it was very relaxing, so much so that i very nearly fell asleep. If i get offered the same again at the next homestay i will definately stew again for a while. Lets hope i don’t wake up tomorrow with some strange rashes all over my body.