|Trekking Sapa, Vietnam|
Monday, August 11, 2014
With the aid of Max the Australian raconteur and Kangaroo Cafe owner and tour organizer, we found our way onto the train. Whilst it's no Orient Express, the 4 berth cabin is a much better way to travel than bus (I'm sure our friends in the Philippines understand what I mean). Tucked up in your little bunk it's not too difficult to get to sleep. Of course you wake up a few times through the night but on the whole, a good rest. Before I knew it, Alexandra was waking me from a deep sleep to tell me that the conductor had been knocking on the door... We have arrived... well almost, wait around for an hour and catch a minibus to Sapa, some 30 kilometers south of the China border... How exotic.
Not too long ago we had the privelege of visiting the spectacular rice terraces in Banaue and Batad with some good friends in the Philippines. The weather was perfect. So naturally, we are inclined to compare one place with another... Well the weather was also perfect in Sapa, perfect for growing rice that is. You need a lot of water to grow rice.
Much effort was expended in just trying to stay upright on the steep slippery trail and along the edge of the rice terraces. Fortunately we were accompanied by sure footed H'mong ladies including one who is due to give birth in 2 weeks, always ready to extend a helping hand. We walked through valleys and over hills, through lush bamboo forests infested with leeches, luckily our guide saved Alex from one. On the second day the weather lifted a little and we did get to see more of the terraces. And like the Philippines, they too were spectacular.
Our little 2 day trekking Sapa tour took us from the tourist town of Sapa through the villages of Linh Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Van and Giang Ta. Along the way we encountered several different tribes including various H'mong (pronounced "mong"), Dzay, Dzao and others. What we didn't see in terms of views were made up for by the time spent with the hill tribe people, especially our guide.
Su is a humble lady with a warm smiling face that lights up the mountain. She never had the opportunity to go to school and says she cannot read. Happily the government does now provide free primary age schooling which her children attend.