Hiking With The Hill Tribe Minorities.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, February 28, 2010

We caught a sleeper train to Lao Cai to get to Sapa in the North of Vietnam right up near the Chinese border. It is quite bizarre that we will be there again but on the China side in several weeks time. The vagaries of cheap air flights mean we will go North to South in Vietnam then back to KL then North to South in China ending up right close at the end of the trip to Sapa again when we are in Yangzhou, China .

The attractions at Sapa are the beautiful mountains and landscapes, cool weather and the chance to see the ethnic minority hill tribes and their villages. The tourist hype, however, has arrived in Sapa and there are a lot of sellers of all things both consumable and collectible. Whilst it is still cheap to eat, restaurants are becoming more up-market and handicrafts are being sold out of every basket on every "authentically" dressed woman's back.

The train was very comfortable and we made it more so by buying out the other two beds so we had a compartment all to ourselves. We had our own guide for this trip, Tam who came with us on the train and made everything happen smoothly. On arrival at 5.30am to the town of Lao Cai we were picked up and driven the one hour or so up a winding mountain road to Sapa town.  We checked into our hotel, Royal View, expecting that our room would not be ready, and to our surprise they not only had a room ready for us but an upgrade with a huge circular glass window looking out over the mountains! 

 Having slept quite well on the train we were ready to get trekking by 9.00am. It was a glorious sunny day and visibility was excellent.  On the first trek we walked down into a valley and between two villages. Lots of women and children followed us around wanting us to buy their handicrafts and practising their English on us. They were happy and cheerful even though we couldn't oblige by buying anything.  We got to see their villages and how they live and Tam our guide answered our questions and gave us information as we went along. It was back to Sapa for a gorgeous lunch sitting in the sun shine and gazing up at the mountains.  Another trek in the afternoon took us to two more villages of different minority groups and to a waterfall where the French had set up a very early hydro power station.  

We awoke to a howling gale and low visibility the next day and were so grateful we had such perfect weather the day before. We visited the Sunday markets where many hill tribes had come in to attend and did another village trek in the afternoon then it was off to catch the night train again back to Hanoi.  
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Karen Kirkland on

Love the Hotel room in Sapa, talk about flash looking. Sounds like you guys are haveing fun and exploring everthing. A bit worried about the water bottles on the window sill in the train - what no alcolhol. Will look forward to your next up date. Luv Karen & Jim

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