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Published: July 18th 2015
A well earned sleep in with rising at 0730. I had to put the ear plugs in at about 0330 because of the rooster. We aren't leaving until 1000 so had a few hours to kill including a giant stack of pancakes and getting the kids to frolick in the rice paddies so I could take pictures of them. I managed to get on the bank of one which is no easy feat and walking along the narrow bank of the terrace was even trickier. If I lost balance then I'd be having a bath. Once we had trekked through the main village and about 5km into the trip we had a nice relatively flat, concreted walking path and I thought today would be easy. How wrong I was. We trekked through some awfully thick, slippery mud and it was pretty hard to enjoy the beautiful bamboo forest when one has to watch every step and grab hold of the stalks in case I ended having a mud bath. It was just insane with the amount of tourists through here. There were a lot of day trippers that arrived by vehicle along the main road (I use the term very loosely)
down one side of the valley. I even saw Asian tourists complete with their Jimmy Choo heels and Gucci handbags get off a bus. They won't be getting off the beaten track. Our last descent was dreadful. I had my little guardian angel (who expects me to buy something off her when I'm safely down the hill) who is about 60 was helping me with my step for at least half of today's trek. However, with this last leg I needed two ladies to help. A lot of tourists needed help. Brendan said he had a woman with a baby lolling around on her back helping him! It's quite unbelievable that these women wear nothing but plastic sandals or plastic gumboots without slipping at all. Today we saw women from the Red Dzou tribe as well. The scenery once again was very spectacular and jaw dropping. At the end of our trek we ate lunch at one of the many places providing food for the tourists. While waiting for our bus to take us back up the valley to Sa Pa, there was a constant stream of tourist coming and going on buses. They really know how to move people
enmass here. On our bus trip we stopped a couple of times to take even more breath taking pictures. However, it's a bit like the Grand Canyon, it doesn't matter how many pictures you take, none of them do the view justice. Back at the Sapa O Chau office I rummaged through my pack, which wasn't made easy with kittens and kids (not mine) in my pack, to find my sandals and clean clothes in order to have a shower and get all refreshed for our overnight sleeper back to Hanoi tonight. While the rest of the family had showers I quickly ducked down the street to buy a pair of new North Face hiking boots for $53AUD. I donated my old Columbias to any of the guides it would fit. They have been well used over their 8 years and the leather was ripping near the pinky, but that has got to be better than plastic slip ons! Our bus arrived at 1715 to take us back to Loa Cai train station. Once there, someone approached us and told us where to go to exchange our vouchers for the train ticket. Very odd system as it wasn't at the
ticket booth in the train station, but at a restaurant next to the train station. The guy told us to wait in the restaurant and our tickets would be ready. Of course, the restaurant is full of other tourists and once sitting, a menu is shoved under your nose for exorbitant prices. Naturally with two hungry teenage boys, I couldn't refuse. It seems the more you pay, the worse the food is. We had quite a long wait and the wifi wasn't working which means we have all been off the wifi grid for two days now. It also doesn't matter how much you pay in a restaurant you will always have the proprietor's kids running around as well as the occassional rat.
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