The third day in Sapa and the most awesome place to visit. The landscape is hilly and the land is fertile and rich with plant life with a moderate temperature at this time of the year which is the rainy season.
After breakfast with our team of six, one of Katerinas’ girls was sick, we left for yet another trek down the steep hill to the Cat Cat village where they colour hemp using plant extract and make their clothing from the marijuana plant. Some of the items for sale are machine made, but much of it is handmade and that includes the silver and tin products and the many colourful scarves, hats and bags that are available.
By visiting the village we gained insight into the daily lives of the locals and how they go about making a living too. We saw the large containers of dye they create from a plant they grow expressly for this purpose. I purchased a lovely colourful hat only to later find that it was not handmade, so bought another in the market place.
We travelled further down the hill until we came to a community centre where
we used a bridge to cross the river with beautiful and magnificent waterfalls that were abundant with water due to the current rains. As we headed into the village we could hear music that attracted us and we walked towards it to find a group of teenagers playing a jumping game on a stage. The teenagers use bamboo sticks close to the ground and move them backwards and forwards and the player must jump between them to the music tune. I got up on the stage and had a go and Kim, my Korean friend, videoed it for me. Great stuff!
Well the walk down was challenging enough but I totally understand why most people hire a motorbike to get them back to the top. The walk up was challenging and took about an hour. I wondered if we were ever going to get back to the top. We left Pin our guide here in the village though before heading into the markets. She was a great guide and we all thanked her and tipped her before moving off to do our own thing with the promise of the group meeting up for lunch together.
I wandered around
the lovely shops in the town where there was minimal pressure from the shopkeepers (actually some of them were not even present in their shops) and this allowed us to look at their products. I also had a look at the local market where many of the women were selling the products they made for the market. This is where I found my second hat.
It was so funny about the hats. I showed an interest in a hat with tassles, but none of them fitted me, so next thing there were five women with hats all trying to make them fit. It was funny and they laughed too, but in the end I chose a hat without tassles, bargained for it and the lady sewed the tassles on while I waited. I love it. And proudly, I wore my hat back to the hotel feeling it was money well spent….but now wonder if I will ever wear it except for a fancy dress.
On arriving back at the hotel restaurant for lunch I encountered Kim and he was sitting having a beer and listening to the 70’s music there. We both were relaxing and laughing as we
sang along to the tunes realising we were of the same era and even in South Korea they had listened to the same music as we had in New Zealand and of course elsewhere in the Western world. By about 1.30 we were all there for lunch and headed to a table that accommodated all of us.
After lunch we headed off to do our own things again and found ourselves together for tea which was early as we needed to prepare for the train journey. I went back down town to organise some money and trudged back up the hill with the thought of a massage, but as I had to wait in the line for a shower for an hour it didn’t leave enough time, so I sat and read my book for a while.
Before we separated here we had a photo taken of all of us, so it is a nice memory. This was one of the best trips I have done due to the environment and the people. They made it a special time too.
The whole group of us headed off to the train station in the mini-van together. But a
funny little story first. In the van it got hotter and hotter with no air conditioning. No one seemed to be taking the initiative and all of you know I am not slow in coming forward. So without realising it, I used my teacher voice to ask for the air-conditioning to be put on for us. Once I had done that I realised I had spoken like a teacher again and laughed and Elena who is a teacher also laughed too. I suppose you had to be there to see the funny side of it. LOL
By now we were at Lao Cai station, Katerina and her two daughters were to catch the early train, so Elena, Eugene, Kim and I sat on the streets of Lao Cai chatting and looking at photos for about two hours before it was time to head off to the train station across the road. Katerina and her daughters, Susan and M….(sorry about your name) were absolutely lovely and I hope we keep in touch. Elena, Eugene and I were pleased to find we were in the same cabin of the carriage so we went off with light hearts knowing that three quarters
of the inhabitants for the trip were us three and there would be only one other. How wrong we were!
While we were settling in organising our stuff, a Vietnamese man with no English arrived at the door with the intention of coming in with his bag. We were accommodating him in this regard when next thing a child appeared followed by a grandmother who was followed by two adult young women and all were trying to get into the cabin. Now the cabin is small like just enough room for you to get into the room and the depth is the length of the bed. I am beginning to panic as the claustrophobia set in and trying with my fingers to make it clear that only four are allowed to be in the cabin. One of the Vietnamese girls spoke enough English to inform us that they had paid for a bunk for two people. Next thing a chair is being jammed into the doorway to keep the door open and sort of enlarge the space for everyone. Inside I groaned.
At this point I stood outside waiting for the guard who made it clear only two
in the bunk and the others had to leave. Well that seemed okay at the time. But it did not end there.
Next thing, the grandmothers’ phone rang and she spoke loudly into it. Then the little girl was sick and had to be rushed out to the toilet. This meant everyone has to reorganise themselves. Elena let me sleep on the bottom bunk and her and Eugene climbed up there to rest and we all did rest for a short time. Then the phone conversations started again. The lights went out and the torch went on to find what she needed. The door opened and she went out. A few minutes later the son came in and another conversation. Then finally things started to settle down. Oops! The phone went again…by this time I was thinking that sleep was not going to be an option and it was time to be assertive. So I shhhhhed her and that worked for a short while. Then the phone went again and it is now 1am. So that was a comment to her in English that she did not understand but would have guessed from my voice that I was not
happy. Sigh. During the night there was more coming and going but for a few hours it was fairly quiet. At 5am it all started again. Phone calls, visits from the family, phone calls and more visits. The worst part wasn’t so much the disruption but the realisation that we didn’t know who might enter our room at any time. Still it made for a very interesting trip and Eugene tells me he had a good sleep so it worked for him. LOL
I farewelled Elena and Eugene at the train station as they were heading off to Laos for more travelling and I was staying in Hanoi for another four days. We left Kim the night before and didn’t see him this morning, but he was heading down to Tam Coc and as it is fairly close to Hanoi and a day trip I might go and have a look too.
Once back in the hotel it was sleep time. Later in the day I headed off to find something interesting to see and ended up at the Historical Museum. Mostly it was pictures of people and war scenes from the 18th
century through to the present
day. The hardest bit for me was looking at what was happening in this country in the 60’s and 70’s and realising how little I was aware of it in my little cocoon New Zealand.
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