Vietnam 2009

Day 4 to Day 6 - Hanoi - Sapa - Hanoi

23 Nov 2009 - Sapa

Arrived at Lao Cai station..
Somehow we slept pretty well in the "rocking" train cabin. Awoked by sharp knock on the door, and could not understand what the conductor was saying. Guess it could only mean arriving soon !!

The train was late and we arrived at 6am. The poor guide was out in the cold and waiting for us since 4.15am.

An hour's drive from Lao Cai to Sapa and we were at Sapa Eden Hotel. Breakfast at h'mong restaurant, nice airy french loaf, hot strong coffee, bacon and eggs.

Eden hotel was really new, think they were open for business about 10 days ago.
Generally ok and we were given a room with a great view over-looking the Fansipan Peak and some rice terrace. They were still fixing up the place so some things like Wifi was not working, however pretty glad that they had a halogen heater in the room.

Enroute to Lao Chai village, we stopped at a view point for photo ops of nice rice terraces

The light trek to Lao Chai and Tavan village.

Wildlife along the way

Bargaining is an universal language don't have to speak H'mong to do that :>

Afternoon was free and easy.
We had a walk around Sapa town, which was essential quite small.
Spend the rest of the day chilled out at a nice cafe 
"Baguette and Chocolate" ...  hot chocolate, french pasteries and a nice place to update our travel log.

24 Nov 2009 - Sapa
Breakfast was included in Eden Hotel.
Strong viet coffee,  french loaf, bacon and eggs are becoming a standard morning starter, of course with the Fansipan mountains as a backdrop.

Trek to Cat Cat Village

Indigo dye seems like the main craft. The leaf smell like basil, soak the plant for 1 to 2 week and simply dunk in your fabric to get your blue indigo cloth.

Little girl was staying in this house, apparently it houses 3 families. 

No trip is complete without a bbq stop :>

Sin Chai Village and School

Ban Ho Village
Was almost an hour's drive from Sapa

Stiled houses were typical of the
Tay (pronounced as Tai) minoirty in Ban Ho village.
Pumpkins and winter melon on the roof.

Quite a few were converted to housestay for tourist.
 Did not pass Sock's minimal star rating ... way too much "rustic-ness" for her :>

Hot spring
Was not easy to get to ...

Passing villagers harvesting and washing cassava roots, crossing a bamboo bridge, scaling large boulders, and finally ...

Water was not as hot as we expected,  so we did not bathe in it.
Lots of construction in the area.. apparently to build a dam .. I am sure the place will change vastly in the next few years.

Vietnam BBQ and Rice Wine -
"Mot, Hai, Ba, Zo's!"
Met up with Tong (our guide) and his friends for BBQ next to the church in town.
Bbq'd beef wrapped with mustard leaf , intestines , chicken wing ,legs, cucumbers with msg and salt.

"Home brewed" local rice wine & H'mong Apple cider served in minerals water bottles.
Vietnam "Happy Water" as it is called :>
                            "Mot, Hai, Ba, Zo's!" (One, two, three, cheers!)

25 Nov 2009 - Sapa
Weather took a turn, the sun was gone and everything was foggy.
Decided to skip silver waterfalls and walked around town and the HamRong mountains instead.

Guess we were very lucky to have 2 days of sunshine and clear sky and also the chance to experience the town covered in fog.

Climbed ham rong stone forest .. orchid garden

Stone forest, Heaven gate, cloud yard ...

Lunch at one of the more local restaurant near the lake. Not cheap either ..  Sapa Springroll , Pho Xao with local mushroom (very good), choco vegetable,  chicken with lemon grass , hanoi beer  ... VND 210k.

We checked-out of the hotel in the morning, arranaged to visit TaPhin village prior to going to the train station as it was kind of on the way. As such left Sapa at 3pm for Taphin Village.

Immediately upon arrival, there were 4 "guides" following us around.  About 30 mins walk to Ta Phin cavern at the end of the village. Old limestone caves which were used in the world war II , probably as storage. The caves and tunnels is supposely to goes on for miles. We did not get pass 30m, beyond safe tourist limits.

The locals wanted money for lights in the tunnel, good thing we happen to have our 44 led torch with us. Bought 2 scarf in the end as token for their guides services. Apparently, just via exposure to tourist, these minority tribes are able to pick up spoken english ... survivial skills I guess.

Asked the locals if they go into the carven in their daily life nowadays. "Only to get tourist who cannot get out of the caves ... "

Ta phin had one of the widest and biggest rice terraces of the villages we seen so far. The rice terrace covers as far as the eyes could see. Imagine having to plant and harvest an area that size purely by manual means.

Ta phin was also into planting bamboo orchids (or vietnam flowers). Apparently ready for sale by the new year. Most were budding already

6pm Dinner at one of the local restaurant opposite the Lao Cai station. Expensive for pretty normal food ... but guess it is to pay for "shelter" space while waiting for the train. We were advised to go to the train station gates only 30 mins before the train starts (when the gates to the train platform opens) so that we can go directly into the cabin. This was to avoid hanging around the station and being prone to pick-pockets.

Shared train cabin with another Singapore couple ... how small can this world get.
Train was an older model compared, but we slept anyway :> 
Next >> Hanoi - the old Quarters and Beyond

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Vietnam 2009
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Trip Information
20 Nov to 27 Nov 2009
Raymond & Sock Ling
8 days trip to Hanoi, Halong and Sapa 

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Day 1 to 3 - Hanoi, Halong
 > Day 4 to 6 - Sapa
Day 7 to 8 - Hanoi

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