Published: August 4th 2012August 4th 2012
Remember that song from Cat Stevens- Morning has Broken?...
"Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day"
This is how I can describe the view driving up to Sapa at 6 in the morning. Jeff was so enthralled by the view that he was literally sticking his head out of the van to take pictures. It took us an hour to get to the city of Sapa where we were taken to a hotel room for the sole purpose of taking a shower after the train ride. After freshening up and being told by the guide that it isnt advisable to take a backpack weighing so much on the treck Jeff and I went about trying to figure out how we had so much weight. Penut butter jar? crackers? 20 granola bars? towels? and then proceeded to figure out what we actually did need and put aside
We are looking chipper!
the exta's so we could handle the uphill road. I say "we" but really it was Jeff shlepping the bag.
The route the first day was a 10 km hike that would take us through a muddy narrow track through the terraces of rice and corn fields through the Muong Hoa valley. We would then head off to the village of the Black H’Mong Tribe eat (or watch everyone else eat) and then we continue our trip to the village of Ta Van inhabited by the Zay minorities where we would stay the night with a village family. The second day would be a 6 km hike and then back to Sapa. All this with our guide Dinh
As we started our walk we were joined by an entourage of women from the ages of 7 to 80. These women were all wearing the traditional costume and had come to join us in our trek with the hope of selling us their wares of bags and bracelets made from hemp and dyed with indigo.
In the beginning of the morning trek, I bought a few bracelets from some girls ranging from the age of 3-7. It was
A business model
they walked with us for four hours where I eventually bought 2 bags. Everyone wanted me to barter but it didnt seem ethical when you saw how they lived.
rather heartbreaking to see these children , dirty and alone begging for us to buy something. These children were carrying their baby siblings tied on their back. Our guide kept instructing me not to ask them why they were not in school and if I ignore them long enough they would leave us alone. After the 50th kid begging for me to buy a bracelet I was exhausted and made a decision that I wasnt buying anything not even from the older women who was following us with one of her companions. I was aware that their selling pitch was trying to hoop you in emotionally Everyone of them has an introduction sentence that starts like this: "Hello, what is your name? Where are you from? Do you have kids? etc.then as you walk on the precarious trails they are their to catch you and hold your hand so you wont fall into the muddy mess. They create amazing art work from branches and give them to the travellers and you can imagine after walking with them for four hours you can't help but talk to them and in the end they have told you about themselves, maybe true maybe
not, and then that's it! you buy something.
Great business model!
We walked passed green fields of rice. Fields that were in many different shades of green, so much green that all we wanted to do was take a million pictures to capture the different colors, to consume it and to envelope it.
These fields are the grace of hard work of farmers toiling , harvesting and caring for the only food they will have during the year. As you pass the green you also pass the poverty, the houses with no running water and children with torn clothing tending to the fields and animals.
After walking for six hours we finally got to the house where we would be staying the night. The family was very warm and their children were nice. They didnt speak English but our guide translated for us. The house basically looked like a barn with rooms. No floor and the kitchen consisted of a cooking pit but dont worry they had a rice cooker to make sure the rice was perfectly cooked.The family couldnt understand why we would only eat bananas - go explain kosher to them.
kept saying to our guide " she looks happy but she's not eating". To them if you don't eat it's a sign that you are not happy with their hospitality. Our guide was totally going crazy that all we ate were bananas and crackers. At the end he was willing to buy me a buffalo just so I would eat.
Exhausted from walking in the humid heat and feeling blessed that there was no rain. At 8:30 in the evening we went up to sleep on the second floor-a loft that had no air but did have a great mosquito net. It was a far cry from what I'm use too , I cant say I was totally relaxed but I really worked on myself to just enjoy the experience and pray that I dont get malaria.
There are more photos below