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November 27th 2008
Published: November 27th 2008
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Roadside Maintenance CrewRoadside Maintenance CrewRoadside Maintenance Crew

These ones we understand are wild...they seem to spend their day(s) munching on grasses in the ditch. Can you say Pig Stop! (Okay, enough).
Thanks to Mr Tung, we had travel arrangements that took us from the coast - on buses, boats and an overnight train - to Lao Cai. A little groggy (it was just after 5 am) we refused enticing purchases outside the train station including sexy lighters (damn - if we were more awake we would have bought one - lighter PLUS porno projector...), we boarded a bus away from the Chinese border town to climb 1,000 m to Sapa. Most of us slept, but the winding hills and motion sickness kept Jen awake (and sympathetic Rob) - silver lining was a great view of rice terraces / hills on the voyage up.

Sapa is a beautiful (albeit rainy) mountainside village - lots of locals and two local hill tribes willing to house us, and sell more handmade fabric consumables than imaginable. It's the low season tourist-wise so Bill stepped into bargain-mode all the more! After viewing a few spots we agreed on the Tulip - for $6 a night (two dollars extra for a heater....mostly for our little friend, but we'll admit to enjoying it's a wet-cold, you know?!)

Once checked in, we negotiated a guide and two
Givin' erGivin' erGivin' er

9" wheels, 6.8 horsepower, a scooter named "dream." What else can I say?
motorbikes for the day. It may have added up to $6 a person...of course 2L of gas was separate, so very pricey. What a good idea having a guide - we took these little scooter-type mechanisms down dirt roads, through rivers, rocky terrain and up steep hills - and all endorsed by their owner! On the bikes, we toured small villages, saw great views (the gods must like us because the skies cleared up - blue even!), and gawked at the roadside zoo. Linh organized a special stop for her and Jen....we tried on traditional tribal fashion. No surprise, the formal (rich-person) outfits are far more flattering than the labourer garb.

Then "somehow" we came upon a good friend of our guide's. He invited us over for lunch and did we want our own duck or our own chicken?! We went with the ga (chicken). Fortunately / unfortunately, the ga was served hacked apart in a little bowl (bones and all)...Linh seemed to be able to identify all its pieces but we sure couldn't! Nor could we chew most of it off the bone, but the flavour was delicious. Was a bit of a symbiotic setup - we'd chew

The mannerisms of the locals were quite peculiar to us
what we could, hand off to the cat who'd eat the meat. Once the cat released the remainder the dog would cowardly retrieve the bone and devour its portion.

That night we had our first western meal of the trip. The hotel promised wood-fired pizza, other guests said it was delicious so we gave it a try. We tried two pizzas and a four-dollar bottle of Vietnamese wine (who knew!?) all in all, surprisingly good. Thin-crust, lots of cheese (Vietnamese don't really like / trust cheese)...yum!

For dessert we ordered in four ladies to come give us massages in our room! Can you say spoiled!? We believe it was a combo thai / more delicate massage - all felt great after.

The next day we went a little slower. Wandered away from town and the repetition (often by many tribal sales-ladies at once) of four questions: where you from? what you name? how old are you? you buy from me!!!! For a bit of exercise we head toward a steep set of stairs and continued uphill and into the countryside. On the way back we asked Linh to translate a sign on a government-looking building - "Biology
Got Rice?Got Rice?Got Rice?

This one's for you Ray
Museum". It didn't exactly look like we could go in (chained up dog outside) but we did nonetheless. After some confusion, a couple apparently researchers led us into an exhibit room. Lots of critters, big and small - all dead! Apparently Vietnam has lots of snakes and larger cat-type animals. It was hard for us to ascertain whether these (bears included) are still in existence. (Anything tasty gets eaten in this country.)

Before leaving town Linh sat us down for a streetside bite to eat. She ventured for a kabob of baby pigeons while we three tried "jungle pig" Very delicious! Yum!

Okay - enough detail! We're in Hoi An right now and need to get fitted...Jen bought about a kazillion dresses. (How can you not I argue - $15!!!!!)

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Hotel Balcony ViewHotel Balcony View
Hotel Balcony View

Not bad for $6
New and OldNew and Old
New and Old

Hand-woven cloth produced by the nearby tribespeople... and scooters!
Meal of the dayMeal of the day
Meal of the day

Lots of delicious things to eat at the market - just add hot sauce!

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