Catcat Village - What an amazing walk round


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Asia » Vietnam » Northwest » Lao Cai » Sapa
February 3rd 2016
Published: February 3rd 2016
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Today once again you couldn't see a thing outside the window, but as breakfast finished at 9am we had to be ready earlyish. it looked like things were running out when we got downstairs, in our coats, as you can see your breath everywhere inside the hotel. The staff wear their coats all the time too. But apart from the overlooked eggs and dodgy fried rice, it was good. A buffet (always a winner) with the best bread so far and a choice of tea. Pancakes too. We ate for a long time.

Back to the room and back into be fully clothed, with the electric blanket on, stayed there until 11. Looking outside, I had a crisis of confidence about walking downhill to the village (1.3km it said, but steep) to a few souvenir stands and a constant barrage from the vendors in thick, miserable fog, but Sam rallied me round and off we went. The book said we didn't need a guide. This was true. It was about a 30 minute walk downhill before we got to the village and had to buy tickets to go in - 50,000 each (£1.50). We got a map, showing a circular route. Still very foggy. Then there was a checkpoint where we gave our tickets in and headed off down some steps. 4 children jumped out at us, the youngest about 5, all on their own when they should have been in school, and waved bracelets at us. All mass produced (bracelets, not children). They were the most persistent, annoying salespeople in the world. Buy some from me, one from me, over and over in a spooky little sing song chorus. Down the steps we went in a procession. Sam sang no thank you back to them. Eventually they gave up. They put us off looking in any of the shops on the way, needed to keep on the move!

Once they'd turned back we did buy a few things from the little stalls. Very nice people, not pushy, and happy to answer questions and have photos taken. Glad to give them our money and didn't try to bargain too hard. They need it more than we do. One lady's daughter, aged 15, came home from school when we were there and obviously said to her mum not to bargain, and went into major upsellThe route was amazing. Of course it is quite touristy, but the advantage is that it is paved and stepped all the way, and we had it more or less to ourselves as it is such bad weather. Not raining, mizzly. The scenery was spectacular and it was much clearer than in the town. Really simple houses, with ingenious inventions for channelling water. And animals! Huge pigs with piglets, goats, dogs (luckily none of them fancied us), water buffalo, chickens, all wandering around free. It was great! A beautiful waterfall, huge bamboo, all very wet and drippy.

When we crossed the bouncy bridge some guys offered us a motorbike lift up to the town, but we said no, we were walking. The price seemed to be 50,000 each if we were both on the bike with them. Poor bikes! What a struggle uphill with us clinging on the back! We wavered a bit but carried on and then there was a little family in their house with a few chairs, asked if we wanted tea or coffee, so we sat with them for a while and played with their cute baby daughter. Their heating came from burning wood, open fires everywhere with little children around, such a simple existence. I'd have liked to visit the school but it had finished for the day.

The walk back up was a right trudge, but at least we weren't accosted at all and the photo opportunities were great, despite the weather . Expect in the busy season the village is heaving. Walked into town for a late lunch, back to the hotel and into bed again!


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