Morning call, cockroaches and the Sapa Mountains

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Vikki was disrupted mid morning by a dodgy rattling bedlight above her head, followed later by a morning wake up call that was beyond belief, so much so that Paula almost wanted to smash the speaker in. Imagine, if you will, rusty nails being scraped down a blackboard, coupled with the high-pitched melody of a Mogwi (Gizmo from Gremlins...), a sample of Nutters morning alarm clock, with some plinky plonky music in the background - all sung with a false toothy smile by some hateful Asian soprano...arrggghhhhh! Horrendous! But, one thing is for sure - there was no way you were sleeping through that - Nutkins, we will send you a version for those 'hard to surface' mornings.

Vikki had the added bonus of a young cockroach sharing her bed for the night. He, too, was shaken awake by the din and went for a little morning run around Vikki's bunk...

So, we were up. Not the peaceful gentle awakening you hope for with sun streaming through curtains and the smell of fresh flowers but awake and ready to haul ass to Sapa town high up in the mountains.

From one headache to the next we left the station, but now knowing the drill we were able to side-step the barrage of taxi touts waiting in the wings to bamboozle unsuspecting tourists with bulging wallets. We headed straight for a cafe to grab some well needed coffee and were stalked by one persistent tout. We ended u giving him our business but only when we were good and ready and had finished our coffee shot!

We jumped into a minibus which took us all the way into the mountains and when we arrived in Sapa about an hour later along very precarious windy roads, with not many safety barriers, we were delighted to find an almost alpine ski village nestling in amongst the misty hills.

The streets were lined with Mongs (not the sort you mean in a bad way - that is the tribe name!) and they all wanted to sell you something! After trying two hotels we again got third time lucky at the Holiday Sapa, a ski-resort style lodge with balconies overlooking the valley and mountains beyond. The desk clerk was a friendly chap and took it upon himself to show us the rooms available. We started on the first floor where he enticed us with an $80 family suite with a large terrace looking out over the vista - we declined (way over budget!). We then went to the second floor where we were shown a smaller scale version with only a juliette balcony but still ut of our price range at $45 per night. Finally we were taken to the basement, next to the storage lockers, to a room with no view! We'll take it - $25 per night - done deal!

We jumped, starfish like onto the bed and woke up hours later. It may have been the altitude, or the early morning arrival, or the upheaval of the last few days but when we woke we decided we should try and catch the best of the day (it was still relatively early) and so we went for a wander and got accosted by Mongs with every step. We escaped into a restaurant for lunch with a beautiful view of the surrounding area but when we came back out there was more accosting. The naive and unskilled Paula unfortunately employed the 'danger word' of "maybe" with regards to a purchase and was soon followed by a group of persistant tribeswomen groping their way to a sale. Paula asked Vikki what they should do and she replied "On the count of 3...let's run..." To Paula's alarm, Vikki began to count. So we far as the nearest massage parlour where, safely inside, Paula opted for a neck, shoulders and back massage and Vikki selected a head, shoulder and foot combo.

Paula disappeared upstairs for her treatment whist Vikki kicked back in a lounger and contemplated the look of the sixteen year old boy with the Nintendo thumbs who was headed in her direction? With a swift greeting he jumped monkey like around the back of her and clamped his paws dryly on her temples and started to rub....repeatedly asking "OK?" to which Vikki kept replying yes for some unknown reason. She later likened the experience to being bitten multiple times by a mosquito, annoying and painful. It all got too much during the foot / leg massage where the lad pressed his thumbs into her shin bones and drove them upwards with a gnarly crunch over her underlying tissue...and Vikki ragged down her legging material and told him to stop.

Meanwhile upstairs....Paula was having a wonderful, if not a little unorthadox, back massage. She said it was going to be hard, and it was, but Paula hadn't expected her to jump up on the table and dry hump her buttocks whilst massaging. Weird but it worked and when Paula went downstairs to rejoin a very blotchy templed Vikki she was feeling very relaxed indeed...until...

The Mongs had formed a small gethering and were still waiting outside the massage parlour - only one thing for it - stride with purpose and ignore any further advances. One of the tribes women said Paula was very bad and Paula hoped that they didn't practice voodoo or anything similar whih may hurt...

We finally shook the Mongs and went for a glass of wine on the balcony of the hotel. We selected Dalat, as it was a local brand, Vikki went for red and Paula for white to spread our bets a little. No need to have bothered, they were both disgusting! We downed them in one and went to the room to get ready for dinner. Classy!

For our evening meal we wanted to get into the Christmas spirit and a Christmas tree was a must! Just up the street we found the perfect, homely looking place, where they were just about to decorate the tree and it was all Vikki could do to stop hersef from joining in! We ordered a Vietnamese hotpot that you cooked yourself at the table using various seafood and vegetables in a broth boiling over a flame and soon realised it would have been eough to feed all of the Mong tribe in one sitting! We did our best, drank some wine and then headed back to the hotel for an early night ahead of our mountain trek tomorrow...

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annewardell on

Avoid Mongs at all costs, that's what we say!!! Xxxxx

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