Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stunning trek in Laochai and Tavan village, Sapa, Vietnam

Trek-outside of Sa Pa Day 2 Sunday, December 30, 2012

We wanted an easy walk, so we trekked to two villages, up and down the local hills through the rice paddies of Lao Chai and Ta Van Village

We went to firstly Lao Chai village, 6 km from the centre town, where the H’mong people are living. The trek was through rice fields and quite steep. The most difficult part was walking and balancing on the edge of the terraced rice paddies. In my embarrassment of being 65 a village girl had to hold my hand over quite a long stretch that was about six inches wide and straight down a long ways on the right and into the water on the left. I managed to slip into the water several times but the girl kept me from falling down the mountain.

We took about two hours to get down to the bottom to the beginning of the Muong Hoa valley.
Then we went  to Ta Phin village about an hour’s drive and two hour walk from Sapa, the little hillside village located in midst of the Hoang Lien Mountains. Several tribes live peacefully here: the Kinh, Red Dao and Black Hmong people. We had lunch at her village and went on to to Ta Van Village which borders Lao Chai Village.


 “Ta Van means “a big turning road” like a basket brim, or tripod-leg line. Vast terrace fields with unique position of a big turning road become a landscape and a destination of Ta Van. Seo Mi Ti scenery-old pine forest, a half day of sloping road away from township centre, is also a particularly interesting eco-tourist site of Ta Van. And Ta van has become an integral tourist site for ecological excursions in Sapa.” 

I am not sure how much the villages are affected by the tourist coming through. They are better off and have built schools off the proceeds so we are doing our little bit. The village by Western standards are quite poor and I am not sure we could live like they do for very long which probably illustrates our materialistic ways.

Children in Laochai village

Children in Tavan vilage

There are six major groups in the Sa Pa area each speaks their own language though they share Vietnamese they do not understand the other village’s languages. Each village has its own culture and beliefs.  Our guide was from the H’mong tribe and she spoke good English. She is Buddhist and she married a fellow from another village. Some villages are Christian some have no beliefs – which is impossible because we all believe something or the other – but they all co-exist and have for I suppose many hundreds if not thousands of years. Apparently they were not affected by the American war in the 1960s and early 1970s and the government has pretty much left them alone, probably because they are so isolated and non-threatening. This is really something to see; we, with all our Western beliefs and wants and to see tribes living like they have for so long makes one believe that society may continue. They will be still here when all the Christians, Muslims, Jews and spiritualists of many hues destroy themselves. The teenagers do not run off to Hanoi but stay in their villages and keep the traditions going.

Black Mong people in Tavan Village
Source: DR. TERRELL NEUAGE’s blog

Recommended Sapa trek tour by ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA

Sapa trek & Topas Eco Lodge - "Stunning trek and great combination of homestay & eco-lodge"

At an elevation of 1,600 meters, Sapa is a delightful former French hill station situated in the mountainous region of Vietnam's northwest, close to the Chinese border. The region is home to many ethnic minority groups, each wearing traditional and colorful attire. This trip includes a trek through the hills and valleys of the Sapa region, discovering several different minorities along the way. You will experience overnight accommodation in the hospitable villages of Dzay and Tay ethnic minorities. Round off the trek with a nice stay in Topas Eco Lodge. The apparent hardships are worth it though as we walk through some of the most spectacular scenery that Vietnam has to offer and experience unique villages culture.

Highlights 
Awesome scenery
Rice terraces
Colorful minority groups
Homestays in minority villages
Topas Eco-lodge

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