Sapa would probably be awesome if it was summer here.
Sapa is situated very high up
in the mountains of northern Vietnam so is covered in mist and is very cold... the
coldest I've experienced so far. Washing my clothing in the hotel was probably a
very pointless exercise. After 3 days, it was still wet. Nevertheless, Sapa is an
interesting little town with about 30,000 people or so. The locals are very
friendly. The girls, dressed in their local outfits, are the sellers, tour guides,
friends and sources of information for the travellers. They are very friendly and
keen to sell you anything from bangles to blankets to arm bands. Bargaining is essential here to keep prices down for future travellers. The locals have learnt to
expect bargaining... they find it amusing. At times, bargaining can go on for 40
minutes or so for the benefit of a dollar or two. It's fun, trust me!
Today we ventured down the hill to the
Cat village where a rather unspectacular
waterfall is situated. Unfortunately, I slipped and scratched the camera and broke
yet another cheap watch on this trip... my $35 Rolex from Phuket. Hopefully I will
be able to get the watch band fixed soon because I was getting rather attached to
the watch. Made me feel rich wearing a Rolex. Talking about rich, I can't believe
it but the locals must see me as being an ATM. I have had nothing but trouble with
each and every business transaction I've had in Vietnam. Getting change, or getting
at least 30% off the initial price of things is rather difficult for me. I need to
take lessons off Dave and Claire who seem to have bargaining down pat. At this
stage of my trip I cannot separate the emotion from the business... I'm really bad
at giving extra money to locals that I like.
Anh is doing a fantastic job at taking us to many of the
local restaurants. Beef
curry has been my favourite Vietnamese meal so far... the food is very cheap here
with most meals being less than $5. The beers are also very cheap... $1 for a
rather large bottle of beer - the cheapest in SE Asia so far.
My early impressions of Vietnam are positive... but not as positive as Thailand. I
think 3 weeks here will be long enough. Whilst beautiful and culturally
fascinating, there is something in the air that isn't really captivating me like
Thailand did. But it is only early days so look forward to seeing what the next
couple of weeks bring. I'm enjoying the group experience but everything takes
soooooooo long. It's great having the company after being alone for 2 months but I
get frustrated at being held back now and again. I'm really glad that the tour is
rather balanced in that there are opportunities for you to go off and do your own
thing. I'm rather surprised at how positive the group dynamics are.