We made our way from Lijiang to Kunming on overnight bus and then another overnight bus took us to the Vietnam
border. The border crossings in all the Asian countrys always made me nervous because the reception is never anything better than frosty ! This border crossing was no different as the chinese fella confiscated first of all our dvd copies and then our lonely planet China guide ! A bit strange
We then made our way in a
minibus for 2 hours uphill to Sapa which is a nice little town in Northern Vietnam. We wanted to do a bit of walking and visit the remote hill tribes. When we arrived in Sapa we could barely see 10 feet infront of us it was so foggy, it was out of season and the town seemed dead. The weather wasn't supposed to improve for at least a week so we decided to do a trek the following day and then leave, so we booked a trip that took us to see the hill tribes.
The next morning we made our way in a minibus to where the trek would start, we arrived and it was madness! There were loads of kids gathering round the bus to sell us walking sticks made from bamboo and lots of women carrying baskets on there backs filled with handmade souveniers to sell. We started the walk down the hill and each of us had three women around us firing questions like "Where are you from ?How old are you? Are you married? Why not?" They were pleasant enough but I knew that it would lead to "Will you buy from me?" and later on it did. At the start I was a bit disappointed with the trip as it was far too touristy and the women following us were stepping up there sales pitches. We had lunch in a small village were they offered homestays so you can 'get a feel for rural village life' but it wasn't like that, I went to the toilet expecting the usual hole in the ground but instead there was a brand new spanking western bathroom, it was far from a authentic rural experience !
The second part of the day was much more fun. The guide told us that due to bad weather the path ahead would be really slippery. We had the option of turning back or carrying on so we carried on, I mean how bad could it really be? I was the first to fall on my arse, the guide was trying to help me down a muddy bank when I fell backwards whilst simultaneously hurling my bamboo stick forward into the poor guides head almost knocking him out in the process. Cabbie found this very amusing, as did I when he spectacularly slid down a steep muddy path. (Has anyone seen Romancing the stone? Just picture that).
By this point we were really pleased that the tribe women were still following us as they helped us up and down the most ridiculously muddy, slippery paths. They were really strong too, considering that they were all less than 5ft tall and weighed less than 7 stone they managed to keep us upright the majority of the time. At the end of the trip we bought some stuff off them, not because we wanted it but because they had helped us so much. It cost us a bit more as I needed three women to keep me upright so we had to by off all of them !
We really had a good time, not because it was a good trip, just because it was one huge mudslide ! Due to the weather we decided to head south quicker than planned to Hanoi, another
night train !