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Vietnam - Sapa

semi-overcast 32 °C

The two French guys who were already in Halong Bay and I were joined by another English guy who is just moving to New Zealand, Alex. It really seems that all people I meet when trecking are quite special and extremely nice.
We were leaving in the evening to catch the night train after having dinner with the guys from the Halong Bay trip. To find the night train and our specific compartment would have been impossible without guiding from one of the Handspan Agency girls. Not quite sure how I should manage by myself when I go to Hue....
The 4 of us shared one compartment which was tiny but quite cosy. My first ever night train. Altough the beds were quite good I didn't get much sleep and was exhausted when we arrived at 5am in Sapa. We had some breakfast and had some time to have a look around in town and went to the market. I started the day in good style. After forgetting already my book with my much loved Everest book mark I fell down the stone stairs in Sapa. Damn slippy things! I fell straight on my arm which is now also completely bruised and very painful.
Not sure what is going on at the moment, but I seem to fall and slip wherever I go and also seem to loose and forget everything and that is been going on for quite some time now. It's a nightmare.
We got a cute 18 year old girl as our guide, called Chi. the trecking was fabulous. It was really hot but I expected it to be even worse. It is higher than Hanoi, so therefore a little bit cooler. The scenary was well and truly breath taking. Mountains with terraces of rice paddies as far as you could see. It looked exactely like you imagine it, or actually even better. The rice terraces are so impressive. They have water buffaloes too, which are in a way really quite cute and have to work so hard wading through knee high water pulling the farmer standing on his plough.
The whole place was so muddy and slippery that all of us fell over and sliped in the mud. I, of course twice landing right with my bum in the mud. Great!
If they are not doing that they just laze in some water wholes and completely cover themself in mud. The hill tribes here all speak different languages and the only way for them to communicated between the tribes is in Vietnamese. They have great traditional cloth. Our guide for example is wearing some sort of black velvet dress with embroidery. Well it's actually some sort of velvet trousers with a dress on top and also some gaiters on her legs.
We stayed in a homestay which is with a local family. They basically had a barn with some mattrices in the attic. The cooking place was an open fire, electricity was only limited, i.e. the fridge was only working when all the other lights were switched off and the "shower" was a bowl of water underneath a tab on the floor with a big cup in it to poor the water over yourself. Also staying there were some Aussies and a Belgian guy who was quite funny but really weird. What is it about Belgians??? It seems all prejudices about the Belgians are correct and they are just strange people. We had a great evening with loads of games, riddles, endless theories about the next Harry Potter book etc. etc. I love that theorie in case anyone is into Harry Potter. Simon believes that Harry himself is one of the Hocruxes.... now, how is that?? If that isn't a great theory then I don't know what.
The whole evening was of course accomplished with loads of beer and rice/snake wine, which is basically Schnaps and is horrible. We still managed to finish the whole bottle! :-)
The four of us counted 39 beers in the morning! Good team effort!

The next morning we were trying to walk again, which ended up more sliding down hill as it was even steeper and even more slippery. We were sliding down to a hot spring. All of us fell again and it was getting quite ridiculous. At least I only ended up with my bum int he mud and not in one of that massive buffalo poo piles like on of the Aussie girls!
The hot spring was only a small pool but nice and the surrounding scenary so beautiful.
After that we went for some proper refreshment to a waterfall and river which great but really cold water. Also really strong current.
Over lunch we continued our lovely conversation from the previous day about extreme and disgusting food while Alex was pulling a caterpillar out of his lunch. At least it wasn't me this time, so maybe my luck is changing after all.... We discussed all sorts of food, from eyeballs (the French have seen so many cats without eyeballs that they are convinced the Vietnames eat them...), testicles, deep fried tarantulas etc. Why we keep having these conversations over dinner I really don't know.
On the market in Sapa they were also selling dog... urrgh.... and the French were really keen on trying it but who would be surprised about that??? :-) The dog was lying next to cut up waterbuffalo feet, crow feet and all that sort of stuff. We also saw a guy that had a whole dead pig on his little motorbike cruising through Sapa.... weird!
After lunch we got picked up by a really old jeep that somehow managed to get us through the worst mud I have ever seen. It also was the most bumpy and slippery ride I have ever had. Surprised we didn't shoot over the cliff....
Back in Sapa we had a shower and some quick shopping in the market where we all managed to get some cool bargains before we were getting back on to our cosy night train again. Unfortunately this time we didn't share a compartment, but at least I got some good sleep on the train this time. We were already woken up at 4.30am. Somehow we lost an hour which at that time in the morning isn't really an advantage. Stumbling out in the darkness and being completely tired I couldn't even find the guys and after being hassled, pinched and screwed by two taxi drivers I was in a great mood and getting ready to even leave Vietnam. It is so annoying here sometimes....

Anyway, the whole trip was still amazing. I just love trecking. Althouth it was obviously by no means as hard as Nepal, it was just very different but still great! I seem to develop a stange feeling of freedom and happiness when I am trecking. Very cheesy, but it is true...
I will meet up with Alex in Hoi An and maybe with the French guys in Hue, which would be great, as we had a brilliant time!

Posted by Julia1976 08:12 Archived in Vietnam

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