(You might recognize my first photo from this post.)
I left on an 8pm overnight train from Hanoi and arrived in Sapa at 5am the next day (word to the wise: as a female, it is imperative to limit the amount of liquids you consume before taking a sleeper train. I went 12 hours without peeing to avoid using that toilet!). I had arranged to take a two day moto tour of the Valley and stay overnight with a local family. In areas like this where the povery rate is so high, I think it’s absolutely necessary for travellers to be responsible in supporting locally owned and operated businesses.
My guide was Phuong, a 28 year old native who was very knowledgeable about the area and its residents. Sapa is the name of the town on the mountain whereas Sapa Valley stretches 35km in diameter and lies beneath the eastern range of the Himalayas. The last major peak of this range, Fan Si Pan is Vietnam’s highest mountain, but due to the heavy mist and fog I wasn’t able to get a clear picture. Phuong took us on a winding route deep to the bottom of the valley. I remember sitting on the back of that motorcycle and feeling so free as the wind was hitting my face. The sky cleared up and we had beautiful weather for the rest of the day’s tour. The ride wasn’t as smooth as on the back of Matthew’s motorcycle (it had been 8 months since we’d last seen each other and I was missing him terribly!) but I sat back and took in the most gorgeous views I’d ever seen.
|Just some kiddies riding their pet water buffalo|
We stopped to have lunch with some of Phuong’s friends and stretch our legs. Our morning had gone so perfectly but we struggled throughout the afternoon. It was the rainy season and the deeper we rode into the valley, the more we came across road after road washed and mudded out. Phuong and I were filthy trying to push his motorcycle through the mud pits. Never have I been so grateful to finally return to the rocky gravel path that had made my crotch so sore just a few hours before. Despite the foreign environment, thin mattress on the floor, and more creepy crawlies than I cared to think about, when my head hit the pillow that night I was out like a light.
|The women of Sapa|
|Exploring Silver Waterfall and Sapa Valley|
The next day we came back into town to explore a bit more. I trekked up Silver Waterfall then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around visiting local shops and restaurants. It was a tiring but rewarding experience and I hope that I can visit Sapa again in the future.