Room without a view!

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, November 19, 2010

We travelled on the day train from Hanoi to the Chinese border town of Lao Cai, from where we caught a minibus up to Sapa. According to our guidebook the minibus journey should have cost 40,000VND ($2 each). However, the scamming Vietnamese minibus drivers asked for 500,000VND each ($25). We negotiated hard and after nearly all the minibuses had left we reluctantly agreed upon a price of 300,000VND ($15) for us both. Had we not agreed then we would have been stranded so had no choice. When arriving at Sapa we met another couple who said they paid 40,000VND, but they were travelling with Vietnamese friends.

Mountainous Sapa is a town which had been changed substantially by tourism. Once a small rice-growing village it is now a thriving tourist centre for a mainly European trekking crowd. The countryside around Sapa is breathtaking although often obscured by cloud. Terraced rice paddies and villages adorn the steep sided mountain valleys but unfortunately for us the rice harvest has already occured and now only brown empty terraces remain. Local Hmong women now work as trekking guides and handicraft sellers and can be seen all over town clustering around tourists.

The weather is Sapa is renowned for being cloudy and misty a lot of the time. Our two days spent here were in think mist but luckily on the second day the mist cleared for short periods allowing sneaky peaks at the surrounding views, which we enjoyed on a walk to the closest local village, Cat Cat.

Sapa also seems to be home to some very fine bakers selling posh French cakes, which we enjoyed when hiding from the weather over a nice steaming cup of earl grey tea!

Tomorrow we start a two day journey to Laos. Unfortunately it involves some very long bus journeys along winding unpaved roads, although by now we should be hardened to such trips.
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