Photos - Vietnam > Sapa
We got a small bus to the train station, it was a bit chaotic as we had vouchers for the sleeper train, but they had to be turned into tickets. There was a person there to take care of us so off she went to do some magic. The magic took quite a while but finally we had two tickets in our hot little hands and crossed over many tracks to find the train to Sapa. We had requested a soft sleeper; the cabins held four, two upper and two lower. There was a young fellow in the upper and the conductor came and found another cabin for him so we had the cabin all to ourselves. The train ride to Sapa was quite pleasant, we had an alfresco dinner of Laughing Cow Cheese, a Baguette and Water. We arrived around 5:30 am and went off to look for our bus that would take us to Sapa and our hotel. I must mention that the temperature was quite warm so we thought it would be the same as Mai Chau.
View from the train station steps.
There were many, many busses waiting to take their slightly sleepy passengers up to Sapa. We finally found our bus and started our trip up into the mountains. The warm air was now being replaced by quite cold air and we no longer could see the mountain vistas. Our driver had to go fairly slow sometimes as the fog was also rolling in and it was very difficult to see. The rain started to pour down on us as we got closer to Sapa, we couldn’t see anything, and we were all making jokes about hoping our driver could see the winding, twisting mountain road...ha-ha
When we finally arrived we really couldn’t see twenty metres in front of us and it was pouring rain, foggy, cold and miserable. We had decided to take this impromptu side trip to Sapa, without checking out the weather, I had a light sweater and John had only short sleeve shirts. We arrived at our hotel in Sapa and the temperature was 10c, we checked into our room and could not find a heater, at this point we were very, very cold and wet. We found that there was a heated mattress cover rather than a heated blanket, so we turned it on full tilt and finally got warm. We went down for a late lunch and realized there was no heat in any of the public rooms of the hotel, including the restaurant. The restaurant did have big heaters but they didn’t work, which is a common thing in Vietnam. The hotel was really nice and we had the Mountain View room, with a balcony. I took this photo the next morning when there was a break in the fog.
The mountains are really out there somewhere and I am sure many guests have enjoyed eating on the terrace with a mountain view!
John got the last jacket that the hotel had, they rented boots and jackets, you can buy socks, I guess they are used to guests arriving without the proper clothing-plus this was a weather system that was not expected, our second in so many days. We noticed many of the guests renting jackets as they, like us, had not expected this cold front to move in. I bought a vinyl rain cape to protect me from the rain and hopefully keep me warm. The next day was the trek down the mountain, some of the group did the 8 km and some of us got on a motor bike to meet the rest of our group at the restaurant and then we would walk the last 4km to the bridge. I have to tell you, riding on the back of a bike, going down a stoney rutted very wet road with a 30 degree angle and sliding crossways at times was not my most favourite ride, and I actually forgot how cold I was! John was on the walk with his sandals, his first fall he slipped and went down, the second fall he grabbed for a fence post which of course broke and he tumbled over a bank, the third his feet went out from under him, so he slid and tumbled a ways down the hill. He used a pipe on the side of the road to clean himself off. He was lucky the mud was so soft and slippery.
We arrived at the restaurant and the skies cleared for about an hour.
We ate lunch on the lower part of this building; we had a hour where it cleared up to get some photos.
The rice paddies look more like mossy terraces, rather than rice terraces. They only have one rice crop a year…plant in May …harvest in October….so when we were there it was at the early stage of preparing the paddies for planting.
We left the restaurant and met up with a number of ladies who were going to be very persistent for the next four kilometres, they finally broke me and we bought a couple of purses from them.
These ladies were actually quite fun to be with when they weren’t trying to sell you their purses.
The two women in the red hats were in their 30’s...
It takes them a year to make clothes for their entire family, how cool are their turquoise boots???
I don’t know what clan this woman and her baby are part of I just liked the way they were together.
This is our guide, she explained a number of things to us, one: they now can marry someone they love rather than having an arranged marriage, but they still get married from 15 to 18 years old, if you are 19 years old your chances are getting very thin. They needed many children to help in the fields and to take care of the parents when they get older, but now they young woman go to the hospital in Sapa and have an iud put in and finally get to choose how many children they can afford. The men take no responsibility for birth control it is all on the women’s shoulders. Our guide was very forthcoming about their lives, which was great as we normally don’t get this kind information of like this. Our guide learned English from tourists and could speak very good English, but she could not read or write in English. The next photo is our guide and her Mom.
I liked being in Sapa, I was taller than the women, nice change for me. Our guide is 19 and has a one year old…being taken care of by her stay at home husband ; her twin sister is also a guide but was not working when were there as she had just given birth to her 2nd child 3 weeks earlier. Our guide lives in a village a few hours away and only gets to go home once (or maybe twice) a week to see her husband and baby.
Her mother weaves and sews up clothes, purses, wall hangings for the village and tourists.
No words can say anything about this photo!!!
It was so wet; I would find this weather tough to take – cold, wet, and dark.
This rooster provided the only colour on our walk.
The fog was coming back in.
Back to the hotel and our warm mattress. The next day we decided to rent a bike and tour up into the mountains to visit other villages. We started on down the road from the hotel, went past the big church and lake, and went 1/4km more and the fog closed in so fast we could barely see the bike in front of us. We lost our bearings, quite funny when you think we have travelled around the world without getting lost – we went up one street and turned left, nope, went back up the street and turned right, nope, we actually went in circles because every now and again we could see the same restaurant, we finally went right and right again and there was the church, and the twisty road that goes to the hotel, thank goodness there is only one road to the hotel otherwise we would be back doing circles, so we did a five minute bike ride and 20 minutes of being lost, we turned the bike in and decided to go to the restaurant to wait until it was time to get on the bus to go back to the train station. John had five cappuccinos to warm up.
So on that water soaked note we say goodbye to Sapa and the lady in her waders!