Hiking Skates and Hot Wine

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slowly we drift out of sleep to the sound of hammering rain. We are in the loft of our Sapa homestay and by the sound of it, most of our group are already downstairs awaiting breakfast. We pack our small bag and head down for breakfast. It's pancakes, syrup and bananas - yum! Once Ian has eaten his bodyweight in them, we say goodbye to the family and put on our raincoats and expensive hiking shoes, before heading out into the cold damp morning.

Our wonderful guide, Dzueng, walks us through the spectacular (and wet and misty) landscape. We pass by waterfalls and stop off at a local school. The kids there go about their daily play and learning oblivious to our strange presence. It's a special insight into the life of the hill tribe children. After a brief stay, it's back on the trail leading down into the valley, over the river and then back up into the mountain. It may be raining but we are now very hot and sweaty. Some of the paths are concrete/stone and we slide around on them like ice skaters. Good job we bought these matching hiking shoes! Our guide Dzeung is wearing wellies. He doesn't slip once. Our Dutch friends offer us some advice to help us keep our feet, they say we should put our knees further forward than our feet. Try it. It's not easy and it makes you look foolish. It doesn't work and we continue to skid around, but now we look like half-wits too.

We stop in a small village for some Vietnamese noodle soup (called Pho), it is the best we have tasted. Delicious. During lunch we are constantly being surrounded by local villagers trying to sell us handicrafts. Our Dutch friend, Willem, is very tall and pretends he can't see the tiny village women far below him. It makes us all laugh and eases the torment of being hounded to buy stuff. Soon it's time to catch a minivan back to Sapa and for half of our group this is the end of the line. Our Spanish and Dutch trekking mates return to Hanoi this evening and we bid them an emotional farewell before we part ways. For us and our Vietnamese mates, we have one more trek tomorrow. Brilliant. You can never do too much mountain walking. Especially when you are suffering terribly from Malaria (...Ian says constantly).

Back at our hotel, it seems they have turned the cold and fog up to maximum. We have hot showers and double up on the duvets for warmth. Why haven't we packed more warm clothes in our terribly empty bag?! After dinner, we drink hot wine (very Christmassy) and eat chocolate mousse, before retiring to our freezer-like room. Our socks are like cardboard. They practically walk off our feet and then sit in the corner of the room, solid, waiting to crawl back onto our feet in the morning. Under the double duvet and wearing ALL of our clothes, we are lucky enough to be sung to sleep by some shockingly bad karaoke coming from the building across the way. Thankfully, even they soon tire of their appalling singing voices and before long we are in a blissful, silent sleep. It has been another incredible day in beautiful Sapa.
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