We have spent the last two days here in
Sapa, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It's an overnight train journey from Hanoi, and it's markedly colder here as it's high in the mountains. Sapa is the town which sits on the face of the mountain, and it's populated by all of the hill-tribes who live in the surrounding area. As such, the town is awash with vibrant colours from the dresses of the different tribes. It truly is a fascinating place.
Our first day was spent simply wandering and taking in the scenery, with views over the mountain being at their best. It was also spent talking to the
hill-tribes people who were hell-bent on selling us their handicrafts; at best, they are persistent but they can become tiresome, and even downright scary as they offer us opium or hash! Still, being touted is much more tolerable here largely because the people are so poor here that they have to make money in any way they can. They are also fabulously chatty, with bright smiles. They liven up your day here.
We spent the evenign eating in a sublime restaurant, with opera cake for afters. This cake is THE best thing I've eaten in Asia so far....
Our second day (today) was spent either side of Sapa, with a trip up to a huge waterfall on the cards. We carried on on our motorbike after this to Tram Ton Pass - the highest pass in Vietnam. This place is worth a description of some detail as it's rather peculiar.
Essentially the Pass is the dividing line between the warmest part of Vietnam and the coldest. As you climb towards it the views are absolutely staggering. It's a bumpy ride. As you get higher it gets much colder, and it's bloody freezing as you make the last couple of kilometres on the bike. But then you reach the Pass, and there it is very windy. Why? Well, a little bit of science goes a long way. Wind is basically the result of hot and cold air pressures meeting. Literally, and I kid you not, as you start to descend down the road further west it gets much hotter and sunnier within about five minutes. It's a fascinating sensation to be in the middle of a natural weather point.
We made our back to Sapa and then carried on exploring the opposite side, and here the views became absolutely spell-binding. They are much better than Mount Kinabalu for instance. We wound down across the valley with the road lookign ever dangerous; if we toppled over the edge, we'd have literally about a mile down! We passed through some villages and it was brilliant seeing the tribespeople working the soil on the beautiful rice paddies on the valley. This place is seriously in another world.
Oh, and as a finishing point, we stayed in one of the best value rooms on our travels. 5 dollars was enough to get us two large luxurious beds and views to die for. In the end, I'm very glad I came here to one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
We head back to Hanoi tonight, and we'll spend the day there before hitting the
night train to