Hanoi and Sapa – Part 2

Waking up the next day (without any blanket as Nicholas had stolen it all during the night), we took breakfast which was remarkably similar to the previous night's dinner. Without a fridge, and living in a subsistence environment, I can understand that meal choices would naturally be limited, but with the combined amount we were paying, I had hoped for at least an egg to be thrown in - on top of that, it had only been 24hrs and I was already having meat cravings. Never mind. After breakfast we were given a choice - visit the next village, or visit our guide's father-in-law who lived 'up the mountain' - naturally we chose the latter option, as it sounded more interesting and would involve a bit more effort. Little did we know... The route to the father's house was directly uphill, following the path of a dried-up stream. The terrain was a mix of clay, gravelly scree, rock, brief gentle slopes and nerve-wracking ledges - all headed upwards at a very steep angle. After the first few corners where you could see the next epic climb ahead, I quit swearing out loud, and began to get my head down and move on in earnest. This pace didn't last long though, and as Megan, Nick and our guides son sped on ahead, Miranda, the guide and I slowed down to a gentle (yet still exhausting) amble up the hill, with frequent rest stops. Fortunately the views each time we paused were pretty stunning, and the thought of getting to the summit and seeing the view from there kept me going. After two hours, we finally reached the father's hut, and rested for an hour with food, while surrounded by his goats and chickens - the isolation in the valley he called home was impressive, with only one other hut visible for miles. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I nearly trod on a snake on the return trip - a Ruby-Eyed Pit Viper this time, quite a rare snake. Fortunately our guide was on hand to chase it away with a stick, and we soon continued on, but I chose not to lead this time. Getting down the hill was a lot easier than coming up, despite nearly slipping on several occasions, and it wasn't long until we were down by the roadside, waving farewell to our guide and host, and getting on motos for a dangerously fast trip back to Sapa.
Goats at the remote farm

Goats at the remote farm

The hidden valley

The hidden valley

The valley, from the mountain

The valley, from the mountain

The hotel we'd stayed in previously were a big bunch of liars - our promised room wasn't available, and as Sapa is a massively popular destination for weekending Vietnamese, we had to try over ten other hotels before we found a room. Unfortunately it only had two beds, but we'd all bunked up together the previous night, so this didn't seem like a terrible hardship (though I decided to sleep on the floor, as the beds were pretty tiny). After that, we spent the evening as groups, solo, and regrouping for ticket purchases, food, massage, wanders, and well-deserved late night beers - the beers in particular were a good end to an exhausting day. Fortunately, Nicholas managed to wangle a four bed room from the hotel while the other three of us were eating, and though it had strangely thin and hard mattresses, sleep was quick in coming. Miranda, Nick and Megan all left early to catch their bus towards Laos, and after some sad farewells, I had hoped that I'd get a nice lie in - unfortunately the hotel management disagreed and turfed me out at 7:30am. Apparently the room was used during the day for massages (explained by vigourous hand gestures, and explaining the terrible mattresses), and they needed to prepare it for the mornings clients. Not the most promising of starts to a day, but I tried to make the most of it. Pho bo for breakfast, and a long walk to a viewpoint down the valley occupied the morning nicely - memorable highlights were seeing a couple of Frenchmen drinking white wine at 9am, seeing a scooter on the back of another scooter, and running the gauntlet of small children trying to sell cheap bracelets. After all that excitement, I found a pub, blogged, and drank beer until it was time to get the bus back to Hanoi.
This entry was posted in Phase1, South-east Asia, Vietnam. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *