Vietnam

Sapa

I spent a little over 2 weeks in Vietnam and I’m still in awe of how diverse the topography is.  After a memorable trip to Bai Tu Bay (read here), I didn’t think it could get any better but it did.  If you’re following along with the posts, you will see what I mean about the diverse topography.  I had seen photos of Sapa on Instagram and immediately, my wanderlust was in full force.  I met a girl in Myanmar who had just traveled there and she said that it was a must on my Vietnam journey. 

Fast forward a month later, I took the overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa.  Taking an old school overnight train was always on my bucket list.  In this case, it was all about the journey and not the destination.  The train arrived in Lao Cai which is the main center in Sapa; where most of the restaurants and hotels are located.  The same girl advised me to stay at a homestay in the rice terrace for the ultimate experience.  So I took a 50 minute taxi ride to Ta Van, a tiny village, where I was staying.  I stumbled upon Lucky Daisy’s Buffalo House on booking.com.  Side note, I used booking.com to book all of my accommodations except for the airbnbs.  It was the best way to organize all of my bookings in one place.  I also loved that they have free cancellation up to a certain date.  There are tons of reviews, photos, and details about the place.  Ok back to Lucky Daisy’s…I arrived on a foggy and cold morning which was such a reprieve from the heat in Hanoi.  I was greeted by the bubbly Indie who helps the owners manage the place.  Lucky Daisy’s was the perfect place to explore Sapa; it was $50 for 2 nights for my own private room.  For less than $10, you can join their communal dinners which was more delicious than any restaurant in the area.  Every night, I would join the other guests at the communal dinner table and exchange stories of what we did that day.

I booked my trek with Sapa Sisters; mostly because it was referred to me by the same girl in Myanmar.  Also because I wanted to support this organization that is entirely run by women and all the guides are local.  My guide Khu met me at Lucky Daisy’s at 9am and she asked me how long I wanted to trek for and the difficulty of the trek.  I loved that it was entirely up to me.  I was a little bummed out that it was a foggy day and the visibility was around 50% of what it normally is.  I didn’t get to see the whole expanse of the rice terraces but it was still jaw dropping.  Standing on the top of a mountain and looking down at all the rice terraces; I had never seen anything like that before. 

During a 4 hour trek, it’s inevitable that you get to know your guide.  I learned so much about Khu, a 23 year old mother of 2.  She speaks perfect English and learned through working with Sapa Sisters.  Her salary supports her family of 4 and her husband’s parents.  This is very common in Sapa by the way.  We spoke so much about a woman’s role in the family, age more specifically mine, and being a working mother.  At my age, it’s common to be a grandmother.  I will write more about my conversation with Khu in a separate post.    

I spent 3 days and 2 nights in Sapa which was the perfect amount of time to get out of the chaos of Hanoi, be in nature, and meet really interesting people.  Sapa was the only time during my entire trip to South East Asia when I was freezing cold.