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VIETNAM | Monday, 25 September 2006 | Views [248]

Rice fields in Sapa

Rice fields in Sapa

25 Sept

We arrived at Lao Cai station at 6.15 in the morning and fell out of the train onto the footpath ( there is no platform)  tired and weary. Our driver was waiting for us as we had arranged our hotel to pick us up and we were off  on the 1 hour trip to SApa. The road wound , dipped and climbed through rice terracing that stretched what seemed like forever into the distance. Hillsides were cut into perfect lines of rice with the near to be harvested yellow heads gently bobbing in the breeze. Lush vegetation ran along the river and we felt peaceful as the car forever climbed up toward Sapa.

We arrived at our hotel ( Chau Long Sapa ) and after setting our bags in went to explore. The town is centred along the sides of 1 main road that feel like it climbs eternally up to the sky but it is beautifully laid out. The Minority Tribes ply their wares in town and it wasn’t long before they had worked out “new tourists” had arrived. Black Hmong are the main group which dress in black adorned with colourful scarf’s and headware. English is quite well spoken so we enjoyed conversing with everyone . A few of the younger locals even practiced their English on us. The afternoon turned into a white out with rain and cloud enveloping our part of the world. We retired to our hotel which is lovely with big spacious rooms, well appointed and a great view from our Balcony. A training restaurant just down the road from us provided a nice lunch of Baguettes, coffe and chocolate. The afternoon rolled into the evening with the rain still falling. Tomorrow we are off to visit the Flower Hmong about 3 hours away in the hills near the Chinese border.

26th September

6.30 start and Lan picked us up for our tour. As we went down the mountain it got steadily warmer. The turn off to the CocLy market put us on 18klm of bumpy, windy, gravel/dirt road giving us what is known affectionately as a Vietnamese Massage. The market is very busy with locals coming in from all around the area to socialize, trade and stock up on goods. The Flower Hmong are very colourful with bright clothing and headdress. Maize is staple food here and many survive on this from day to day supplemented with whatever they can grow or afford. This is a great experience as it is not a main tourist destination as many only come to Sapa for the day and miss out on unique opportunities like this.

On the way back we visited a traditional home. The walls are baked earth, hay roof with dirt floor. The heating is a small fire in the corner of the room. Marriage’s are arranged and the girls are generally very young and they marry within their group e.g Flower Hmong marry Flower Hmong. It would appear a hard life but they all appear happy. On the way back we visited the Vietnamese/ Chinese border at LaoCau for lunch then onto Sapa. Once again as we climbed steadily back up the mountains to Sapa the clouds rolled back in to envelop us. 3 days is a great amount of time to spend in Sapa to “feel’ the area and get to know a little bit about the people and their country. They are a peaceful and happy society that live and work in this part of Vietnam and is well worth the train trip to visit.  


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