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Sapa Vietnam-Tuff Muddin and Tuff Sunnin in the Bush

The past few days I have been on a Trek to Northern Vietnam to explore the north, with the Hmong minority community.
A bus picked myself, and two others from the hostel up at 9:00 pm, and brought us to another bus about 20 minutes away, which was full with backpackers. This was a "sleeper bus" with bus on covering both sides of the bus; upper and lower beds. We got on for the 6 hour ride to the northern part of Vietnam. The bus ride went over a lot of bumbs, and I slept sort of intermittently.

We actually arrived in Sapa at 4:00 am, and I woke up groggily-but the bus driver let everyone sleep for 2 hours on the bus since there isn't much you can do in Sapa that early. At 6:00 am we got off the bus- The air back in Hanoi was hot and stuffy, here it was crisp and cool, probably in the upper 60's to low 70's-we we're all petty disoriented. We we're all going separate places, and most of us didn't know where to go.

A man came up with a sign with the three of our names on it from the hostel-he was to drop us off at the homestay-where we would have breakfast and stay that night. We climbed into his Toyota SUV with an Ed Sheeren playing, and rode up and down the hills, past rice terraces, along the side of a cliff, and after an hour or so-we reached the Homestay-which was down a small path. I carried one of the girls suitcases, and it feel and slipped down a small hill into the mud. It was muddy, but it was closed tightly so none of the inner contents got muddy.

The homestay was a very rustic two story building. We found beds on the second floor, which was really at attack surrounded by beds. After putting our stuff down, we sat down at the table to a big breakfast, of toast, eggs, vegetables, and other stuff. We sat with some folks who we're there for the previous day and hiked, and asked them what they thought. They said the hike wasn't that bad. We asked if we should rent boots-they said yes.


After breakfast and showering, our guide for the 15 KM hike (and 7 KM hike the next day) came along. Our guide was a women, approximately 5'2" tall, and dressed in traditional clothes. Later we learned that like most people in her tribe, she only went to school through age 14 or 15, got married at 17, and has 2 children.


The weather was overcast, and Bau led us up a hill for the beginning of the hike, and the 4 of us on the hike (a newly married couple was part of the group, and one of the three from the hostel decided to stay in since she was in pain from a previous hike). We learned real quickly that renting the boots was a good idea. The trail was muddy. So we continued going up the mountain with muddy boots, and we continued climbing past sweeping vistas of rice fields. Bau explained that rice is grown in the summer and potatoes in the winter. Bau and others assisted us. Some of the others maneuvered up the train with slippers-while we had trouble wearing boots with the mud. We walked and walked until we arrived at a smooth path. We we're on the path for a while-until Bau, and some other guides from the community, met and decided that we needed to turn off the smooth path, and walk up another muddy path, which was difficult to walk on. After a while, we came to a clearing, walked down the hill for a few kilometers, and stopped for lunch, which was rice, tofu, and some type of meat, which we have been carrying with us.


We continued on the walk after the approximately 20 minutes of lunch, and walked down hills, slid through more mud, and walked across clearly marked path. By the time we returned, it was approximately 3:30, and we all just crashed at the homestay, and relaxed on the porch, until dinner time. Dinner was really good-we had vegetables, meat, some tofu, rice, and other foods. After dinner was all sat silently, too tired to get up and walk away from the table. After a few minutes, we just went to the porch. We we're all in bed by 9:00 pm.


The next day, I woke around 6:00 am to watch the sunrise on the porch. It was a nice peaceful, crisp morning once again in the low 70's. Today the sun was out. We had a nice breakfast once again,


Bau came to pick us up, and we went hiking once again. This time, we went up another hill. We didn't have to wear boots today, because the mud had dried. But instead of the mud it was very very sunny. So hot and sunny. So we we're baking going up the hill. But the sights we're fantastic, wonderful fields basking in the sun.


Bau and some helpers thought I needed extra attention-probably because I was 20+ years older than everyone else. One asked how old I was?I told her and she said "Wow you are strong". That doesn't sound like a complement. It's just like finding out someone is 100 years old and saying they look good-which you really don't mean. At one point, I did fall down a slight hill-but I was fine. They thought I was injured-but I was fine.

A liittle while longer we reached a waterfall, and some of us, including myself, went swimming in the waterfall. The water felt great after hiking for a few hours. We splashed around, although the rocks hurt under my feet.

After the swim, we walked down a path down the mountain. Bau showed us a traditional water pump, and a machine for turning thread into clothes that is foot operated. A little while longer, we reached a road about 45 minutes later, where a van picked us up and drove us to the homestay. We enjoyed a lunch of meat, rice, and pumpkin. We said out goodbyes, and a van took us back to Sapa, where we waited just 20 minutes, and took the 6 hour ride back to Hanoi. I went out to dinner for something in a bun, and then went back and went to sleep.

Posted by DavidPearlman 19:33 Archived in Vietnam

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