Friday, March 11, 2011

Sapa Rice Terraces

I arrived after an amazing realisation that I actually slept on a sleeper train, those earplugs I bought were a godsend. In Vietnam people are strangely inconsiderate and will talk loudly for hours even if you are trying to sleep. In my cabin of 6, one poor guy tried to turn the light out to sleep and another guy put it straight back on again because he was playing a computer game with 2 friends. Another British couple told me on the bus from Lao Cai to Sapa that they had had people coming in and out of their cabin until 4am and when asked to be quiet, they just laughed. People in Vietnam are VERY loud, which comes as a surprise initially as they are all so small. Nobody waits for you to pass, they would rather bump into you or run you over than be polite. I know I come from England the land of the repressed and polite, but still, some consideration for others would be nice.

Anyway, Sapa was wonderful. It must be the only peaceful place in all of Vietnam. It was a lot cooler than Hanoi, but I loved retiring in the evening with a hot drink and a fire. The daytime was a bit misty and I don't feel the photos really do the place justice as it was just beautiful. I stayed in the Queen Hotel where I got a room for 7 dollars (shame I didn't travel with a partner in Vietnam as that price could have been for 2 people) and I took a guided hiking tour organised by the hotel of the surrounding villages and terraces. It was a funny start as having just arrived and not had breakfast, I asked if I had time to grab something before we left. 10 minutes later I arrived back at the hotel to find a motorbike waiting for me to catch up with the tour bus that had just departed without me. We zoomed down the road and caught up just as the rest of the group were having a photo stop. We began our 15km walk shortly afterwards with a lot of the hill tribe people following us hoping to sell us something. They head to Sapa every day from their villages and follow a tour back again, hopefully selling something along the way. They all spoke excellent English despite being mostly uneducated. The walk was fantastic and the rice terraces were stunning even in all the mist. They are just starting to plant the rice this month so the best time to visit to see them all green and lovely would be in July. We visited a school on the way which not many children attended, starting work in the fields or selling early. There was a very sweet boy sat outside reading. Apparently he is not allowed to go to school but still stands outside listening and borrowing books when he can. Along the way I found myself walking with an English couple now living in Newcastle, they were lovely and I ended up having dinner with them later. They too have been saving for years to go on a trip like this. They will be spending 4 months in China after Vietnam.

The beginning of the trek

Farm life on the terraces

A traditional house with a view

Vietnamese potbellied pigs, I used to have two of these!

The boy who can't go to school

The local school.
More traditional housing.

Rachel from Newcastle and two of the local girls who followed us around all day trying to sell us something (I did cave in eventually)


Me and a nice view

A waterfall

Working in the rice terraces

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