Seth and Gali
We boarded the 9 hour night train to Sapa from Hanoi Wednesday night only a few hours after returning from our beautiful Halong Bay excursion. Having showered, repacked our little blue matching packs and Pho for dinner, we were off on another adventure. After settling in to our 4 bed (2 bunkbeds) train cabin outfitted with clean sheets and complimentary bottled water, we anxiously awaited our cabin mates as we heard some horror stories from other travelers about whom they got stuck with. We were pleasantly surprised when we met the Austrian couple we would be sharing the cabin with for the evening, both university students in their 20s. After chatting for just under an hour and swapping Vietnam travel experiences as well as advice, we all called it a night as we would be arriving in Sapa 7 hours later.
The next morning we both discussed how we did not have the best sleep as it was warm, noisy and just uncomfortable on the train but we were afraid to wake the other couple so Seth lay awake on the bottom bunk while Gali stared at the ceiling above...
At 5am we pulled into the Lao Cai train
station where we disembarked. We were to be met by our guide, however, due to miscommunication with our hotel in Hanoi and the tour company in Sapa we were stranded and we had to find our own way to Sapa (45 minute car journey). After settling things with the Hanoi Hotel they quickly and apologetically rectified the situation and we were met by our guide, Hai, who was with us for our 3 day stay in Sapa. After having been fed Pho and bread rolls for breakfast we suited up; sneakers, hiking clothes, sunscreen and bugspray... ready to begin our first 15 km day of hiking.
Hai started our journey down into the valley by leading us through a local footpath as opposed to the main trail. We walked through people's yards and along the terraced rice patties. Once arriving in the valley we walked through the rice fields passing towns of the H'mong People.
After finishing up the 15 km, we arrived at our "homestay". A homestay is exactly what the names suggests - instead of sleeping in a hotel, you sleep in the home of a family in a village. We were very lucky with our
homestay as our hosts were very welcoming.
Shortly after arriving, we started to help in the preparation of dinner which turned out to be a feast. We started by cutting vegetables for spring rolls. Our host then took all the vegetables, added some egg and mixed everything together. All of us then started to wrap the spring rolls. We were so excited to eat them - they looked delicious. We then went out to the garden and picked morning glory - a vegetable that quickly became one of our favorites.
From there, the night kept getting better - we chatted, feasted and then played a bunch of drinking games!
The next morning we woke up early, had a little breakfast and hiked back to Sapa through a different path than the one we came on. We had intended to go further into the valley and go mountain biking but it had rained all night and the rain continued coming down making the rest of the path un-bikable.
On the way back into Sapa we hiked through other villages and many more rice terraces, this time we were focused on avoiding the mud pile-ups from the heavy
Once back in Sapa we cleaned up at the hotel, dropped our sneakers off to be dry-cleaned as they were COVERED in mud and went out to walk around and grab some food. We felt as though our 30 km hike warranted a massage, so we treated ourselves. That night we slept like babies in our "luxurious" hotel room. The following day, despite the rain, Hai took us to see the silver and love waterfalls- beautiful!!! (some more hiking was involved). Hai then set us on our way to the train station, at this point we attempted to exchange information and "keep in touch" Hai informed us that facebook access was illegal. We caught our overnight train back to Hanoi - another uneventful but sleepless train-ride.
Tot: 0.155s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 7; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0132s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb