We arrived in the morning and took a
bus to the town of Sapa (after Ben had to make a run for the train station toilets). The drive was gorgeous through winding mountain roads that looked over to terraced rice paddies. The road was dotted with Hmong tribeswomen walking with baskets on their backs. Sapa is a pretty town built into the mountainsides and the air is crisp from the altitude. It was gorgeous. We dumped our bags in the hotel reception where we would stay the next night and took off for a 5-6 hour hike. It was some of the prettiest
hiking we've ever done and we had a Hmong guide who explained some traditions of Hmong people. For ex. when he was 14 he didn't have a girlfriend so his parents bought him a wife. It's common for men to have 2 wives or girlfriends. We passed through many fields and the views just got better and better. We would often pass Hmong girls and women who followed us and wanted us to buy jewelry, wrist bands and clothes. The colour Hmong people wear is blue and the dyes are natural in their cloth so it stains their skin. There was also another tribe we kept seeing, but I am not sure how to spell their name. They're Zhiou and they're characterised by red head pieces.
By the end of our hike we were all quite sweaty and tired so we tried to relax at the village where we stayed for the night, but these women were constantly coming up to us and wanting us to buy from them. It's really lovely to do such a real hike and I am so glad we didn't do one from Chiang Mai in Thailand. This wasn't commercial at all although it's hard to fit in with the villagers when they don't really want to make friends they just want you to buy. I don't even know how to count in Vietnames (yes I am ashamed), but I quickly learned how to say, "No I don't want to buy thank you" in both of the tribes' languages.
That afternoon we swam in the river to cool off while about 20 girls watched us which is a little unnerving. When we finally cooled off they followed us back to the house we stayed in. Once again dinner was the exact same thing we'd eaten for the past week, but with french fries which was a treat.
We played cards that night and watched meteorites.
We were woken up the next morning at 3.45am by a rooster who crowed about every 30 minutes until we got up at 8am. We hiked again for a little while and then were taken by van to our hotel in Sapa. Our rooms were really nice and our room had a balcony which meant we could all hang out our laundry (mine took me an hour to do in the basin).
We spent that evening and the next day wandering around the markets and taking photos of the women when they bothered us. We found a back way to climb up 'tourist mountain' which meant we didn't have to pay. At the top of this mountain were pretty gardens and cool looking rocks and of course a great view.
We were invited to watch a folk show that night by our Hmong guide as he told us he was a dance and music teacher. We thought the show would be cool, but it was unanimously the lamest and most boring thing we've ever done. People left in droves and we tried to stay till the end because we felt obligued, but eventually we snuck out the back too.
Our hiking in Sapa was the coolest thing we've done yet and the prettiest.