Friday, September 2, 2011

Sapa



When planning my journey to Vietnam I knew that I needed to go trekking in Sapa. I had read and heard from fellow travelers that the trekking was intense, but the scenery incredible. I was not disappointed.
I joined a 4 night/3 day trek that started and ended with an overnight train to Hanoi. When I signed up for the tour days ago no else was booked. While having a private tour would be cool I kinda wanted someone else to talk too. Like most things I entered it cautiously, but was pleased as punch in the end. Another solo female travel ended up joining, June from Hong Kong. She was a lot of fun and asked our guide really good questions, plus it was nice to have someone else there! Take the train for instance, when you're alone, who watches your stuff when you go the bathroom? You either lock it up and chain it to something or you take a small pack with your valuables and balance that while trying not to touch anything in the gross bathroom and pee into a squat toilet on a moving train. Sounds like fun, right? This is where having a buddy comes in handy!
Sapa is a town that is located in northwestern Vietnam and borders China. It is known for the minority hill tribes that inhabit the surrounding area and its beautiful lush rice terraces and mountains.
My guide, SiSi, pronounced CeCe, is part of the black hat H'Mong tribe. There are almost countless numbers of hill tribes in the area; each known for something different. There's the black hat H'Mong, the red hat H'Mong, the Red Dao, and so on. They each speak their own dialect, which meant my guide spoke H'Mong, Vietnamese, and English! Not to shabby for a woman who's 24, married with a child, and only educated till she was 14.
During my trek I did 2 different home stays, both of which were awesome, particularly the second night. The second night we stayed with Mr. Sin, who is Chinese and is third generation to being in Vietnam. I got to meet his grandfather, who is 96, and came over from China in 1946 and in the cutest old man you've ever seen with his little golf hat on. They were so incredibly nice and welcoming and the food was amazing.
As for the trekking, it was also fabulous. Certainly challenging at times with continual ascending and descending and precarious terrain. Whenever I would get frustrated I would just pause and look around me and gasp at the incredible beauty surrounding me. I could go on and on about it, but it wouldn't do it justice. My pictures still don't fully do the area justice, but do check them out. What cracks me up is here June and I are, fumbling over rocks, teetering between rice patties, and our guide, along with her sisters who had babies strapped to their backs, are helping US climb down and around!
After my days of trekking I decided to treat myself at Baguette and Chocolate, a cafe that trains street kids in Sapa Town. It was a yummy and well deserved treat after a great trek.       

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