Published: July 24th 2007July 24th 2007
The Hard Sell in the Hill Country Asia
July 24th 2007
We rode an overnight train into the Hill Country of Vietnam and spent two days in the regional hub of Sapa. Like Sri Lanka, it was beautiful and lush, only with rice paddies instead of tea bushes. One negative aspect is that the place has become a Class A tourist trap. The local Hmong and Dao tribes descend on the village daily to meet the bus loads of tourists from Hanoi and persistently try to sell their wares. Their English is pretty good, but they don't know the phrase "No thank you, I don't want any." And while I can accept that this is price for being a realtively well-off traveler visiting a poor country, it got to be a bit much. The amazing part was that this just wasn't in town, but also out in the countryside. On both days in Sapa, we went on multi-hour treks through the hills and each time singles and even groups of ladies followed us, holding up bracelets, bags, hats, and even blankets for us to inspect and purchase. Most would leave after about 30 minutes
of constant "no thank yous", but almost immediately another group would pick us up.
There are more photos below