Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Trekking in Sapa

I hardly slept on the 9-hour ride to Sapa last Sunday evening. I was just not used to the rocking of the train, while I would have an easier time if I were on a bus. I had a throbbing headache when I reached Lao Cai, where the train station is, and from there we still drove for 1.5 hours to Sapa.

As I was booked in a package, I was immediately whisked to this garish 2-star hotel with a majestic view of the mountains. Just a note on taking some package for a trip: I had to eat at the hotel for all my meals (which were all underwhelming) and I was restricted with my choice of activities as the tours were also included in the package. Anyhoot, I was there already, what choice did I have? In fairness to the hotel, it was not bad at all, despite it's tawdry decor, which I realized was the in thing for most Sapa hotels (in fact, some had worse sense of style).

Since the morning schedule was free, I took the time to take a long nap, nuzzling under the blanket coz the temperature was just really, really cold. Just before lunch, I went around Sapa's markets where most of the hill tribe people converge to sell their fabrics, dried herbs, etc. By this time, I was freaking cold already so I decided to have coffee on a shop that had a wonderful view-point of the terraces.

In the afternoon, the hotel provided me with a guide who took me to Cat Cat Village of the H'mong tribe. (The guide has his own camera BTW, which I borrowed from him, hence the camwhoring.) Tall mountains served as a backdrop to our hike down, with small rice terraces surrounding us as well. The guide told me that looming right above us is Vietnam's tallest mountain, which unfortunately was shrouded in heavy clouds.

Along the trek, we met old ladies of the hill tribes wearing their heavily embroidered costumes. The trek also brought us to a small waterfalls. From there, it was a steep and muddy climb back to Sapa. Ugh, I did not expect mud at all! I don't care so much for them unless they're on my face but certainly not when they're on my sole.

Today, I caught the sight of Sapa draped in the early morning mist. The trek was a total of 10 kilometers. Oh dear, the guide did not have any idea how I abhor trekking. But then, I was already there. The trek took us to more majestic views of the terraces, reminding me of my trip to Banaue. (The rice terraces in Sapa are definitely less grander than that of Banaue though.) Valleys of terraces stretched before us and behind the mist the paddies glisten in the early morning light.

A few hill-tribe people walked along us. They were very friendly and I was asked several times what my age is and whether I am married or not (can't they see GAY tattooed on my forehead?). They loved plucking flowers and ferns in the hill-sides and they wove these into wreathes that they gave to me. That was really, really nice.

For lunch, we sat on the big rocks that surround a small river. We had baguette and some eggs, cheese, tomato, and cucumber. I ate them separately, except the tomato and cucumber, which I both hate. I realized that we were supposed to make sandwiches out of them when the tour guides did theirs right on the rocks.
After lunch, we hopped on some rocks to cross a couple of rivers and reached the village of the hill tribe people. Quite a number of tourists were around and I was uncomfortable with the idea that we were swarming their village to see how they live. Doesn't that remind you of an African Safari?

I'm back in Lao Cai now, half an hour before my train ride to Hanoi. Tomorrow evening, I'm on my way to Hue.


fuchsiaboy said...

bayani agbayani isdatchu?!

fuchsiaboy said...

ignore statement above. para yan kay indian mermaid. i hate blogger!!!

um, my comment for you:

type ka nung mga taga hill tribes. anakan mo daw sila. hala!

ang market nga naman... ethnic talaga.

bkkdreamer said...

Darling, you do look cold...in need of something on those legs, I think, which your long shorts (or are they short longs?) fail to cover. A big hug might cheer you up.

Despite the difficulties involved in travelling, your writing is as vivid and entertaining as ever.

kawadjan said...

donita: kulang ka na sa vitamins girl. memory gap isdatchyu? sa kabilang dako... di ko bet ang hill tribe! blue lang ang suot nila ever. kulang sa range. don't like.

bkk dreamer: oh dear, i froze to death indeed. too bad a hug was nowhere in sight. the hill tribe people are not just big huggers. thanks for the nice words.


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