07 2014 Dec

Hiking Around Sapa

Sapa, VietnamTagged hanoi, hiking, lao chai, ta van, travel

The best way we were going to experience Sapa was to hike it. Well, after a thirty minute ride out of town to the starting point. It was still damp outside so we knew our shoes may not be coming home with us. We planned for this. And yeah, by the end of the day they were too muddy to put back into our luggage. Though, at the train station we found people who would gladly clean our shoes for a small fee. We had declined given our premeditated fate of our shoes.

Our hike started with a greeting from our tour guide and several Hmong ladies. There were almost one for each of us, five of us and four of them. We tried our best to have little interaction with them knowing what’s going to happen at the end. But how can you turn away simple banter.

“Hi, where are you from?”

“What’s your name?”

“How long are you staying?”

And along the way they were giving us a hand and making little things for us. So it was impossible to avoid them completely. When they weren’t trying to talk to us, we took in the air and marveled at the scenery. You need to go here if you’re ever in Northern Vietnam. Next time I would probably come straight here and spend a week wandering these fields. Even when it’s not the best time of year, it was still beautiful.

We went through two villages Lao Chai and Ta Van. Lao Chai was where the tourist trap began and ended. You’ll read all about this on other sites. It’s true. They’ll try to guilt you into buying stuff, but they can’t argue when you didn’t bring too much money. We did give some money to our Hmong ladies for their help. Having an extra set of hands as you climbed through muddy paths probably saved us from an embarrassing fall. Kudos for that. Not so much for the tenacious selling frenzy that unloaded onto one of our group members. She decided to buy something and that my friends was like blood in the water for these sharks. They swarmed her. Hope she got something good out of it. Our tour guide mentioned something interesting. There are more villagers following tour groups because the harvest was over. Since they’re not tending the fields, they’ll try and make money with the tourists. Can’t blame them for tying to earn a little extra.

After Lao Chai it was smooth sailing. The Hmong ladies stayed back and we were off walking the roads. By the time we got to Ta Van, we had lunch and decided to head back home. The paths were only getting muddier and we were already exhausted. All in all we hiked for about 4 hours. Not bad.

Verdict: I know this wasn’t food related, but I highly recommend doing this. Probably with a private guide that can fend off the villagers. Still, do this!

Morning in Sapa

We woke up to this view. The fog lifted and the hills were uncovered. Beautiful. I couldn't wait to get out there to hike. Yesterday's Cat Cat Village was our warm up.

Morning Breakfast Pho

Our hotel had breakfast which included a nice hot bowl of pho. Nothing to write home about, though it was simple enough to start the day on. I think I'm officially Vietnamese now... oh wait.

Rice Fields of Sapa

Here's the wonderful hike through the rice steppes. I hear it's much more lush when it's close to harvest. December was not the most ideal time. We can attest to that. It was very muddy and some spots were difficult to walk through. Bring a pair of throw away shoes.

Panorama Time

We couldn't stop taking photos during our hike. And don't worry I didn't want to fill up this post with pictures of rice fields. Two should be more than enough.

The Ambush

Once we got to the first village and asked to take a "break" we were barraged with villagers asking us to buy something. The few that hiked with us had done the same, hoping their time with us ought them an edge over the others. We basically had no cash to buy anything let alone carry it. The worse was when they sent the children after us pleading to buy their trinkets. Oh I miss our guide from yesterday.

Tomato and Egg Noodle Soup

Our lunch time meal during the hike. It wasn't much. Instant noodles with a farm fresh omelet. Very conflicted about the meal, given our guide had a family style meal inside with the owners. I wondered if the other people in the group noticed this as well.

Flower Hmong

This little Flower Hmong girl decided to take a break from selling things to the tourists along our bus stop. For this tribe, they're the most colorful and strike out among the numerous Black Hmong villagers.

Black Hmong

The Black Hmong tribes people are easy to spot. Their primary color is black obviously, but it's usually complimented with indigo in some fashion. I love the different variations you'll see throughout the streets as families come together.

The OxPosted December 7, 2014 By the hungry ox

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