In the Mountains of Sapa Pt 1

Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  , Ha Nội,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My trip began with an overnight ride on a sleeper train - my first. I wasn't sure what to expect because I hadn't heard anything about it. In the back of my mind I had a bad feeling after hearing about so many bad stories regarding asian trains but happily I was in for a good surprise. It was comfortable and fairly roomy even with 4 to a room. They provided bottled water, a small snack, toothbrush & paste, comb and just after the train left the station a woman came around and poured us a cup of jasmine tea. The beds were comfortable as was the temperature of the cabin. Surprisingly the beds were 6ft long, slightly short for me but it could've been a whole lot worse and shorter. I slept pretty good and was only needing a nap upon arrival to hotel mostly because we arrived at 5:30 am and had a 1 hr van trip up into Sapa. I think the van wore me out for than anything. Once I saw the mountains and breathed in the clean, clear mountain air I found my second wind and was ready to explore. My traveling companion Ngoc Anh a girl I regard as the little sister I never had wasn't quite as energetic as me. She took a short nap while I investigated the hotel and asked about treks for the rest of that day and the following days. By the time she was awake and alert I told her the ideas for trekking and she was cool with whatever I wanted to do. I had no idea what her fitness level was so we did a somewhat short mostly downhill walk to Cat Cat village about 5km, one way. 

We visited Cat Cat Village and the kids, the colors and the people were totally fascinating. Watching one little guy chomp down on grilled meat on a stick held everyone's attention and then we all laughed because while sitting there at one point he just peed on the ground for a few moments and then went right back to eating.  After taking in all the sights of Cat Cat we then took a motorbike ride back up the long hill. Normally I would walk it but the day was a hot one and a ride seemed like the thing to do. Once back into Sapa we went to the market for lunch at a place that is well known for its Pho and it earned its reputation - the Pho was good.

After lunch we walked around town, mostly the market area, had dinner later and sat out on the porch behind our room and took in the stars and the city lights of Sapa. Early to bed because we needed to get up early for breakfast and out on our trek. It was a two day trek so we saw three villages of Red Dao and Black H'mong people and were all incredibly interesting to watch and photograph.
The mountains, the rice fields and the ethnic minorities all were so fascinating that the day was a total plus. I love the mountains and these certainly are no exception, the rice fields rising up into the sky and then the people walking on the trails with us or stopping us to say "buy from me" made for a great day of trekking.
In part two of the Mountains of Sapa I'll show you the incredible meal we had at the home stay and the end of day one at the home stay; and the second day of trekking and the rest of my trip to Sapa. 
There is just too many photos to put into one entry. Many photos shown here have more info when you open the photo by clicking on it
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john serra on

enjoying your adventures i wish my compromised health status won't allow me to visit you keep up the journey see you in cincin

kwai_chang on

From Snake Village to Cat Cat Village--I'm sensing a pattern here. I'm glad that you got some fresh mountain air, and that you got to spend some time H'mong women.

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