Trekking in Sapa: Part 1

Trip Start Dec 01, 2011
Trip End Mar 02, 2012

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Flag of Vietnam  , Lai Châu,
Sunday, January 8, 2012

Upon packing for our overnight trek, we got a knock at the door from Tom's brother, who apologized, but could not take us out on the trek this morning, as he was feeling ill. He even made me feel his forehead to ensure I knew he was telling the truth lol. He told us that our new guide (guide #3!) was a local and would meet us downstairs after breakfast.

   While we were eating breakfast we met our guide, Chu, a 16 year old girl, who in fact was a local Hmong from a village we would be walking through. Her first bit of info was that we should be getting some gumboots/rubberboots, as the trek was muddy. Although Laura had success in renting a pair, I, nor my white Adidas were so lucky. Despite many efforts by various stores to sell me a size 10 rubberboot for my size 14 feet, I soon faced the facts that my mutant feet would be on their own for this trek.

  We headed out after on the first leg of our trip, 7 kms to ??????.  The first part of the trek was through fairly thick fog, flanked by two other local Hmong people, with many trinkets in their bags to sell I was sure. While walking we came across the Danish couple, Sidse and Paw, and walked along each other chatting until we got into the countryside, at which point our guide said we were going another way.

  Sidse and Paw were staying on the road, while we were heading down a narrow dirt/muddy trek. I asked our guide if we were talking a short cut, to which she respond no, it was a longer way. I than asked if it was an easier way or less muddy, she said it was harder and more muddy. I than asked if was more scenic, she said not really, it was just more interesting…alright!

  It wasn’t too long after we got off the road that my mud covered-shoes became skates. The two locals that were following us would now show what they really followed us for…it wasn’t to sell souvenirs….it was to stop me from falling over. Like two very tiny bodyguards they did not leave my side the entire way, and came in very very handy, particularly as I had to side step across a few rice fields, with both my hands being held, keeping me from falling into a foot of water or mud on either side.

   How was the trek? Well, Laura did much better than me, although she did almost faceplant once, but instead managed to spray mud all over me as I stood behind her trying to help her. Actually, she did get quite muddy in that fall, as the photos show.

   The path Chu took us on was indeed harder, muddier and longer, but it was much more rewarding…the laughs we shared with our guide and helpers everytime we almost ended up face first in the mud was one of the best parts of the trip.

  The scenery was also pretty amazing…the further down the hill we made it, the more the fog seemed to thin, and as we came around a corner we found the view that had eluded us earlier in China…the rice terrace was amazing…

   How do you describe them? Well, I guess picture a mountain on a topographical map with all the loops, wrapping around the mountain, stating the heights, and now imagine all of those loops actually on a mountain. Stunning how perfect they look.

   We came to a point where we had to go down a very steep, muddy trail that I knew I would slide down on (my shoes were useless in the mud), I saw a village and forest on the right, so I asked if I could go that way. Our guide said it would be a similar type path, but I figured I’d take my chances, so off I went. It ended up being quite easy, and unlike Laura and our guide I got to cross a bridge being built (and not walk through the river). It was only upon meeting back up with Laura that I found out the reason why our guide wanted us to go her way was because the locals did not trust the bridge…glad she didn’t tell me that before lol!
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