Trekking in the mist
Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
51Trip End Feb 16, 2006
We arrived early in the morning in a little town down the valley and first had another hour in a bus to climb up the mountain to Sapa. Upon arrival to this wondrous, freezing, mist shrouded paradise, instead of heading outside like the adventurers we thought we were, we quickly retreated to our hotel room where we donned almost every item of clothing available and tried to keep warm. Luckily for us there was a fireplace.
Sufficiently bundled up to venture out of doors, we walked through the street markets and busy shoppers preparing for the Vietnamese (Thet) New Years celebration, which took place the following week. Gold fish and peach trees, the bigger the better, were a couple of common purchases necessary for good luck in the coming year. Luckily for us, bbq'd dogs head was less popular, and we only had to come across a display of this "delicacy" once.
After warming up a bit with a hot chocolate and meeting an Australian dad and daughter duo, we were encouraged to take a trek with them the following day. They introduced us to their guide, Hung, who besides speaking excellent English ended up to be one of the cooler people we met on our trip
The following day we set out by 4X4 to the special Coc Ly market. Hung explained to us that we were venturing far from the normal tourist circuit, and he was right. Traditionally clad members of tribes from all over the area were present in droves, very colorfully dressed and curious. Why weren't we buying more pigs blood? Apparently, at this last market of the year, all the teenage girls wear their best outfits in hopes of attracting prospective husbands. In the afternoon, we took a boat part of the way back, while enjoying beautiful scenery and discussing politics with a very republican American journalist
On our last day, Hung offered to have his brother take us trekking for free, but first he invited us to eat and drink with his friends and relatives visiting for the holidays. After filling on food, rice wine, and warm feelings, we spent the remains of the day enjoying the local countryside, a new hydroelectric plant, and the aerial gymnastic stylings of our guide.
Despite freezing our hynies off and squinting to see much of the distant landscape through the shroud of mist, we definitely plan on returning to Sapa some day. Maybe we'll check the weather report first though.