After 3 months of intense traveling, I found myself back in Hanoi. I thought I was going to start work right away, but thanks to a delay in the schedule, I found myself with a free week. Luckily, my Icelandic friends, Aldis and Skotta had just arrived in Hanoi. So, I tagged along with them.
We started with a 6:00am bus ride on a sleeper bus. It actually wasn’t too bad considering the buses we took in Laos. We got to stretch out our legs and I actually slept.
Sapa town is a cute, little town where tourists and local ladies congregate. These ladies can be aggressive when they try to sell their goods. But this is their livelihood, so who can blame them.
Our first day was spent walking around the town and buying fake North Face shoes and jackets. Gotta love the Vietnamese’s disregard to copyright laws!
I convinced the girls to try lẩu(hot pot), perfect for a cold night. They were quite amused by it because we had to cook our own food. But they enjoyed it.
When we woke up the next morning, all we could hear was the constant flow of rain. I was extremely hesitant to go because of my bum knee, but after being told that I would only get 30% of my money back from the tour we had booked, I decided to go for it.
As we made our way out of town, a couple of Red Dao ladies joined us. My lady was La Mai. Of course, I knew she was going to try to sell me something at the end, but I still let her walk with me. At the end, I was thankful she followed me. She helped me find paths around a lot of muddy ponds that I would have never found. Ultimately, I wrote a story about her as a way of saying thanks. I just wish I could give it to her.
The walk took us through rice terraces, tiny little villages and farms. I may have always been the last one in the group, but everyone was nice about it and waited for me. I was also busy taking photos. Another great excuse for being slow!
It took us 5 hours to get to Ta Phin village which is located about 10 km away from Sapa town. We did take a 1 hour lunch where La Mai did her sales pitch. Unfortunately, all she had were tablecloths. I ended up giving her a tip of 50,000 VND. She gave me bracelet in return.
All in all, I was happy I did the hike. My knee survived. I broke in my new, fake North Face hiking shoes. I picked up some Sapa mud to take back with me.
We left Sapa bright and early the next day. The bus ride was uneventful minus the bus driver doing some crazy hiding of things right before the police boarded the bus.