What a view!!
As we were pressed for time, we got back from Ha long Bay at 4pm and headed straight for the train station to get the
overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa in Northern Vietnam - close to the border with China. We arrived at 6am and were met by a bus that took us to Sapa and our hotel. We had a couple of hours sleep and then went on our first trek. As Sapa is in the mountains it is very cold so instead of the usual sheet - 2 duvets were needed. It was like being back in England!!!
We met our guide and began the walk to Cat Cat
village. The villages are in the valleys so it was a downhill walk through the fields and terraces. As the area is mountainous, the hills are cut into to form steps so that the people can grow crops. They mainly grow rice and have a great irrigation system where water flows from one step to the next to keep the rice submerged. When they want to drain the fields to grow other crops, they simply cut gaps in the walls of the layers to let all the water
All aboard - the night train!
flow back to the stream - very impressive! The views were amazing and very unique.
After seeing the village and waterfall, we started the climb back up! After about 30 minutes you reach a point where there are motorbikes and you get the opportunity for a ride back up to the town. We were told it was about 6km uphill or 60p for both of us to get a moto - hard choice!! I looked at Chris who said "I'd like to walk" - great!!! So we walked! Everyone else seemed to get the motos and were driving past us grinning! Our guide said people usually got the bike so he would also - he wasn't that impressed he had to walk back up with us!!!
We then had the afternoon to explore Sapa. There are many hilltribe people in the town trying to sell their handmade goods. They are famous for embroidery so most handicrafts are scarves, blankets, purses, bags etc. They sell some nice stuff but if you show any interest, you get swamped by loads of them and it is very hard to say no!!
That afternoon and evening there was a power cut so we had dinner with a roaring fire and candle light - very romantic! The following day we got a mini-bus to the start of the trekking area. We got off the bus and were surrounded by villagers. They began walking with us on the trek and were like bodyguards - they tagged onto a person and wouldn't let other villagers near you!! They were all excellent at English and were very chatty! They were obviously trying to sell us stuff but it was nice to walk with them and find out a bit about their life. The women work the field and sell their handicrafts and most have their youngest child wrapped to their back.
I walked with Lili who was 20 years old - married at 15 with 2 children. She informed us that she didn't have a TV or a motorbike but did have a buffalo, chicken and a pig!! She walked with me for the 2 hour trek through the villages and made an excellent guide but periodically tried to get me to buy stuff!! At the end of the walk she said goodbye and "now you buy a cushion cover"!!! Needless to say, I did!!
This trek took us through a number of villages and we saw both the H'Mong tribes and Red Dao tribes. The views were excellent and it was interesting to see how they lived. They seem to work so hard and with little machinery, most of it is done in ingenious ways using natural resources.
We had the afternoon again in Sapa and then caught another night train back to Hanoi getting in at 5am. We stayed one night in Hanoi and then flew out of