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Published: July 18th 2015
At 0915 we started our trek from Sapa. It was pretty tough going as we started with some rain making it so, so humid. I didn't even bother with the rain coat and just used an umbrella which was much cooler. Most of the trail was very rocky and muddy making it difficult and it wasn't long before. Our guide is called Mi and she kept up a good pace. These ladies do it every day. Apparently the men stay at home to look after the kids while the women do treks and sell things to tourists. The families make enough rice to feed their families most of the time and they thier own produce but still need extra money to buy meat etc.
It wasn't long before I lost my balance on a stream crossing and ended up with my right foot in the stream. It didn't rain too much which made things cooler. I was under the impression that we'd be the only tourists but there were still throngs of them trekking on the same path. It wasn't until we got to the homestay at about 1430 that they started to thin out. At every twist and turn
we are completely in awe of the spectacular scenery of terraced rice fields. The mountains aren't as high, but I would call it an Asian Switzerland. There were so many Black Hmong people passing by and trying to sell things. They are very friendly when they want to sell you something, but others completly ignore you as I guess thay are bit over tourists, even though they need us. I should have come 20 or 10 years ago as tourism has kind of spoiled things. There is so much rubbish, but sadly most of it is actually attributed to local people. It's a double edged sword because as unspoiled it has become, the tourist trade has improved their standard of living immensely. I was expecting no one to have electricity but everyone has. Mi said electricity came about 7 years ago and it's only recently that all children go to school and she pointed the schools out. At the homestay, the living conditions were quite crude but I was surprised to see that they have a fridge and a washing machine. They even have a Western style toilet with toilet paper, which was like really wide white crepe paper! We
were introduced to Me whose Aunty's house we were staying in. We were greeted with cups of tea while we recuperated. My ankles were so sore from the tops of my hiking boots. I couldn't wait to have a shower and get all that sweat off and get into fresh clothes. It's very cool up here so no fear of our clothes becoming revolting again within 5 minutes like in the rest of Vietnam. I was so tired as we trekked 14km ith my pack today. It was mostly downhill as we travelled through the valley but there some pretty steep ascents as well. We were invited into the kitchen to watch the sweet Me cook our dinner on the open fire on a giant wok. Mi and Mai ate dinner with us whilst the children ate in the next room with Aunty. Mai brought out shot glasses of rice wine, which is customary to serve to any visit. Brendan declined, First Born and I had a sip and politely declined the rest of it as it was like rocket fuel. It was Last Born's turn to take a sip and we all expected him to pull a face and
leave the rest. Unexpectedly, our 13 year old (now I don't condone underage drinking, but as they say, "when in Rome...." ) sculled the rest back and banged the glass back onto the table as if he had being doing sculling games for years. He is suddenly 30 and the rest of couldn't stop laughing. I wished I'd recorded it. After dinner, we were treated to foot herbal bath which was very soothing. I needed to pop my blister but left my safety pin in my main luggage at Sa Pa. So I asked Mai if she had a needle and she walked over to her embroidery and cut the thread with her teeth and handed it to me. Once again, I'm dog tired and retire to bed straight after dinner.
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