A Travellerspoint blog

Trekking in the fine weather......

Arrived in Lao Cai at 4.45am, on the train. Had been in the party carriage with 20 Norwegian mature singles, who came on board with a case of wine & nibblies. Our 4 bed berth was shared with Robert an Aussie & his Irish wife who work as teachers in HCMC. Had a nice chat before falling asleep pretty early.

Caught a mini bus for 30,000 dong ( $2) each for the hour ride in the dark to Sapa. The sun was coming up towards the end & it was beautiful mountain scenery with high mountains & terraceed paddy fields. The air is brisk & cool & jumpers were needed for the first time in weeks.

We were dropped off in the middle of town & just started walking to try & work out where to go.. We eventually ( after some steep downhills & uphillls!) found the Mountain View Hotel that had been recomended to me to book the trek by some Aussies I met in NInh Binh. Booked a 2 day / 1 night at a homestay, guide for just Nath & me & 4 meals for $75 US each. It left at 9.30am & as that was still a couple of hours away they kindly gave us a room to have a nap in.

Our guides name is Sho & she is from the Black Hmong Hilltribe minority group. She is 23 years old & never been to school but been a guide for 7 years, speaks fluent English but can't read or write in Vietnamese or English.. She & all the other hilltribe people in town were dressed in their traditional clothes - black leggings & dress, big silver earrings that give them huge earlobes & black hats. There are many different hilltribe people around Sapa & they all speak their own dialect.

We set off to trek 15 km today following lots of other small groups with ther guides & 2 stalkers per group. ( soon all get separated which was nice) Discovered later that the stalkers are actually sellers who expect you to buy something at lunchtime when they leave you to go back to their village, They are all very sweet & nice & make all the things themselves but you can't buy something from everyone!! Everyone starts conversation by saying " where you from?"

It was downhill for ages, past endless steep terraced rice fields, rose gardens, peach orchards, corn fields & hemp plants but mostly rice !. Watched the local people harvesting their rice & Sho explained the huge process to us as we got to see the different stages harvesting required.

There were even small children & women with babies on their backs working in the fields. All the while you are walking to the sound of rushing streams heading down to the big river in the valley. The downhill did finish at the river, over a bridge & then of course uphhill!! Left us quite breathless & had lots of rest stops!

On past small villages & schools till our lunch rest stop by the river. Our guide made our lunch & we could buy cold drinks. Was a yummy lunch of baguette, egg, cream cheese & salad & fruit.. More sellers waited outside the restaurant & they werre from the Red Zao tribe & wore red headress & shaved their eyebrows & hairline to make them selves look more beautiful. They live hard lives & all the guides were around 27 or 28 but I thought they looked 20 - 30 years older than that.

Walked past so many water buffalo which are massive animals when you are up close, so many fat pregnant pigs, ducks, chickens & dogs. Visited one home where 3 generations lived. Grandma was 96 years old & still did the clothes embroidery & her hands were blue from the Indigo blue dye they use to dye the clothes from the local plants. The grandaughter had an 18 day old baby that was delivered in the dirt floor hut & the Grandma cut the cord. The women work in the fields till they start getting labour pains & return with the baby on their back when the baby is 1 month old.

We arrived at our homestay in the villlage of Ta Van around 2.30pm & wandered through the village down to the river where we dipped our feet in the freezing water.

Met the others staying there for the night with their guides & had a great evening chatting over dinner. There was Darren & Shona from Canada - surprise 40th Present holiday Mike & Carla from Washington DC - travelling the world for a year & 2 months into it. Mike is a teacher & Carla a lawyer Eduardo & Carissa from Spain on their honeymoon Lena from Germany who just finished studying engineering

Picked a bed each & hopped in under our mossie net for the night

River at bottom of valley

River at bottom of valley


Endless rice terraces

Endless rice terraces


Village of Ta Van

Village of Ta Van


Our guide & sellers

Our guide & sellers


Hmong guides & sellers

Hmong guides & sellers


Small children looking after the younger one

Small children looking after the younger one


All lined up at a rest stop

All lined up at a rest stop


View downhill

View downhill


Families harvesting

Families harvesting


Nath

Nath


Rocky terrain

Rocky terrain


More terraces

More terraces


These were all dug by hand

These were all dug by hand


Families working

Families working


River way below

River way below


These were wobbly bridges

These were wobbly bridges


Our guide & sellers coming up the hill

Our guide & sellers coming up the hill


Having a rest on the uphill

Having a rest on the uphill


Views

Views


Valley views

Valley views


Villages

Villages


Seaparating rice from the husks

Seaparating rice from the husks


Sunset from our homestay

Sunset from our homestay


More tracks

More tracks


Onwards

Onwards


View down the valley

View down the valley


Roice terraces

Roice terraces


Nath again

Nath again


Balancing on rice ridges & stepping stones

Balancing on rice ridges & stepping stones


Water buffalo

Water buffalo


Up high  again

Up high again


Group at homestay

Group at homestay


Red Zao sellers

Red Zao sellers


Lunch Restaurant

Lunch Restaurant


Up close with water buffalo

Up close with water buffalo


Kitchen of village home

Kitchen of village home


96 year old Grandma

96 year old Grandma


Water buffalo coming back from the river

Water buffalo coming back from the river


Nath by the cold river

Nath by the cold river


Looking back at Sapa

Looking back at Sapa


Our homestay house

Our homestay house

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Vietnam

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