Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sa Pa Sister Trekking

Into the valley...
We had a welcome shower when we arrived in Sa Pa, followed by breakfast on the rooftop of the hotel - and the view was amazing, making us eager to be off on our hike. Zao came and met us at 9am and shortly after we were on the trail with our own personal entourage of H’mong women, all wearing traditional dress and carrying baskets on their backs containing either infants of varying ages or hand made goods to try and sell us later on.

Through the rice fields...
The walk down through the valley was picturesque, traversing rice paddies with the mountains and white clouds completing the background. The trek however was really more of a pleasant walk, and we stopped to rest many times even though we didn’t need it. Then we learnt that Zao was four months pregnant, hence all the rest stops, so we knew it’d be a fairly slow day. We stopped for lunch once we’d made our way down to the river at a restaurant perched out over the water. Our noodle soup was really good, as was our espresso and condensed milk since by then the long night was catching up with us and even though the hike had been easy we were starting to tire. 

Passed the wallowing buffalo....
We had a lengthy chat with Iain, the Brit who ran the place, and he gave us some interesting insights into the local culture and the Sa Pa sisters. He had knoewn them before they started their guide business four years earlier, when only one of the cousins could speak English, and he had encouraged them to break away from all the other Vietnamese run tours and start their own trekking company. It amazed us how well Zao spoke English for only having learnt from speaking with people she’d taken trekking. 

We continued up the other side of the valley and took a small detour to visit Zao’s family house and meet her Mother, Sister-in-law and all the children. It was interesting to see how the tribes people live, their house was simple but sufficient with a TV like most places these days.

...and onto the village.
We arrived at our home stay around 3pm and discovered that we were the only ones staying there that evening. We passed the arvo chatting with Zao and our host, wandering the small village, and doing something we didn’t think we would be while trekking – using WiFi while sipping tea in an outdoor tea house.

Dinner was an absolute feast, and since it was only us along with Zao and our host eating it we had to eat extra as we didn’t want it to go to waste. When we finished eating as much as we could our host bought out the rice wine to share. Since Sarah was still taking antibiotics she only had one shot to be sociable, meaning it was up to Dave to match her drink for drink – needless to say Dave wasn’t the winner!

By 7.30pm we were all falling asleep in our chairs, which was a good thing as there was no electricity so once the sun set there wasn’t much to do, and by 8pm we were both curled up under a mozzie net, snugly in our beds, amazed by the silence of the place soon to be overtaken by our snores.

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