Walking. More Walking. Why Are We Always Walking?

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
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Trip End Mar 31, 2014


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's our final day in Sapa and brave, couragous Ian has managed to fight off his Malaria, Anna is breating a sigh of relief as his constant whinging was becoming very very VERY boring. Today we are reunited with our two Vietnamese friends and joined by two new couples - French and Canadian, both in their 50s. We also have a new guide today and the sun is shining fiercely. There is only a thin smattering of mist and yesterdays rain is long gone, we have beautiful views all around us.

We walk through Sapa and the hillside until we come to Cat Cat village. It is the main Black H'mong village and has a bit of a touristy feel to it. A little smattering of Disney perhaps. We take tours inside traditional houses and workshops but they have all been spruced up to be more inviting to the tourist. They are still wonderfully interesting though and give a nice insight into the daily lives of the hilltribe people. After the last two days walking through other villages and staying in a real family home, we are a little disappointed by the massive effects tourism has obviously had on this village and are eager to get back into the Sapa countryside.

We continue walking down through the town, deeper into the valley. Eventually we come to the river and a lovely waterfall. We rest here for awhile. There are a few buildings around and one of them houses a small theatre. We pile in for a traditional music and dance show, performed by local tribes people. The show is really colourful and lively, we enjoy it very much indeed. It has a similar narrative to the water puppet show we saw in Hanoi, but with real people.

After the show we walk along the river for a few kilometres before we start to ascend back up the mountain. The going is fairly steep, up winding mud paths and along rice terraces. The track  winds up along the mountain side and at one point we even have to pass through a gap in the mountain itself. Once we reach the summit of the peak we have been climbing, we are greeted by a couple of water buffalo and a panoramic view of the surrounding region. We sit on the grass and sweat.

Once the group has finished looking around and taking pictures we begin our descent down more muddy paths. In keeping with our reputation as unstable-walkers, we slip our way along but manage to keep upright somehow. That is until Ian, distracted by the amazing scenery, stops looking at where he is putting his feet and goes down with a bang. Anna laughs until she is sick. Luckily, only a few people witness the fall his pride is only a little damaged. He has a small bruise on his arm and a muddy bottom but is okay. After a sit down and some lunch, we catch a minibus back to Sapa town for a free afternoon.

We still have a couple of hours daylight left when we reach the town so we head out see what the town has to offer. As Sapa is tiny, we walk about it quickly and end up back near the hotel where there is a market. We dive into the hustle and bussle of it in search of roasted-sweet shelled almonds that we have tasted from our Vietnamese friends back at the hotel. Success! We get a bag! And we manage to haggle a decent price too. There is a lake nearby so we take our nuts and go check it out. It is a really lovely, peaceful lake..... with massive swan pedalos for hire! We are out on the lake faster than you can say 'massive swan pedalo'. We quickly tire of peddling so instead we float about whilst we munch through our tasty bag of nuts. Heading back to the docking point we pass by another couple whose swan has become stuck on a shallow piece of lake bottom. A rescue swan has already been launched to save them and we try not to let them see us snigger as we sail by.

A few hours later and we are on a minibus heading back to the train station in the nearby town of Lo Cai. We are heading back to Hanoi tonight and share our sleeper cabin with two really nice German women. After three days of trekking, we sleep much much better on this journey. As the train tosses us about like rag dolls, we dream of clean clothes, soft beds, rest and not having to do much walking. These are just dreams though because once we arrive in Hanoi tomorrow morning we only have a half day of recovery before we board ANOTHER night train to the city of Hue. Ideally we would just travel straight down the coast to Hue from Sapa, but our stupid, heavy bags are being held for us by the wonderful Posh Hotel back in Hanoi (sigh). We plan to lie down and sleep for a few days once we arrive in Hue...
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