Sunburnt And Soggy.

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Asia » Vietnam » Northwest » Lao Cai » Sapa
July 6th 2006
Published: July 10th 2006
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I rented another motorbike this time going to the next major town from Sapa some 50km away. Despite Sisi insistance that there was no need for one I insisted on a skid lid as a condition of rental - certainly a rarety in South East Asia. I was very glad of it too - not for its safety features but since it kept the rain off of my head! My second day on two wheels and I was driving down switchbacked mountain roads with 10m visibility. The bike struggled going uphill, making me feel very heavy! I eventually managed to master the gear changer, which initially gave me a few problems being clearly designed for feet a lot smaller than mine.

We stopped for a bit to eat before turning round and riding the 50km back to Sapa. At first the weather cleared, but once we hit the pass again is shitted out spectacularly. Then back into Sapa, and the weather was fine again.

One thing Ive aimed for while travelling is to get a homecooked meal so when Sisi asked me to take her to her parents village in exchange for lunch I did not take any convincing. The road there was far from ideal - I was forced to drive through rivers, down unmade tracks and it was pure luck and no skill that meant we got there unscathed.

Sisi's parents house was strange. It was tiny - just two rooms with an indoor open fire for cooking. There was no door, a dirt floor, no running water and no toilet. Not even a long drop - literally nowhere to do your business at all. The kids were all grubbily dressed and there was hardly any paraphenalior in the house at all. But there was a DVD player and satellite TV. No toilet. No running water. But a DVD Player and TV. Crazy! And kids. So many kids. One 4 year old sat there chopping a piece of wood with a 7" sharp knife while its parents just sat watching vacantly. Telling any gender was very difficult - all the kids looked the same! Lunch was a simple meal of boiled rice with some fatty meat and some sweet potato flowers. Looking at the hygeine arrangements in place I decided that if I was due a case of the runs anywhere, then I was going to get it here... just need to wait and see!

Arriving back in Sapa I saw an absolutely hilarious motorbike crash. One girl was riding a bike with a bowl of noodles in one hand. She crashed the bike on the road outside where I was sitting and jumped clear of the bike, noodle soup fully intact. She handed it over to the destined recipient before standing the bike up again and riding off into the sunset.


18th October 2006

sounds like you have enjoyed the biggest "cultural shock" in your life?!!!!

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