Our fun adventures continued on our way to Sapa. Once we got to Hanoi, we took moto-taxis to the train station. Except our drivers got a bit lost. I tend to have a not too bad sense of direction relative to where I am, and about 10 minutes into the ride it felt like we weren’t where we were supposed to be. I was right, we weren’t. The moto drivers took a look at our piddly Lonely Planet map, then kept going. It started to rain. A few minutes later we ended up at a fancy-looking hotel not too far from the train station. Jody’s driver got off the bike and (I would presume) asked for directions. Eventually we made it to the station.
We then discovered that because of the Vietnamese holiday, the trains we wanted to take were all sold out. We managed to get tickets on a train that was leaving in an hour, that was getting in around 5am. Since the alternative was finding a place to stay in Hanoi and taking a later day train, we opted for the early-arriving train. When we got to our destination we were still asleep, the train people had to wake us up and kick us off the train. It was about 5:30, still dark out. We got on a bus that drove up to the village of Sapa, about an hour and half away. We waited in the station’s parking lot until the bus was over-full with passengers and their bags, and off we went.
Sadly, the deal we got on a hotel room in Ca Bat would not repeat itself. While the day we arrived wasn’t a holiday and we could have a room for 10$, the next day would cost us 60$. After looking at a few places, we managed to negotiate a deal with a place that was kind of a hostel, kind of a guest house. We could have a quad room for 15$ each, but we were willing to share, and if more people joined us in our room the price would drop to 10$ each.
We walked around the city some. The local women, dressed in their traditional clothing, would follow us down the street, trying to sell us things. After a while, I started to walk from one side of the street to the other, around parked cars, just to see if they’d continue. And they did. One pair of women followed us from the “centre” of town to our guesthouse, a good 10 minute walk away, and stayed there for a good 15 minutes. They would ask us where we were from. I would say Japan and they’d back off somewhat.
Can you tell I was starting to get tired of the “where you from?” routine?
We walked to Cat Cat village just outside Sapa. The walk down is very touristy and had a lot of women selling clothes and trinkets. We passed by a waterfall and tried to find the path along the river that led towards another village but couldn’t find it. We walked over to the next village over, Sin Chai. Must less touristy and the locals seemed very curious about us. Some people were trying to invite us into their homes to smoke opium, but we declined. Jody was trying to find the path that led up Mount Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest mountain, but was unsuccessful.
The next day was grey and rainy. Jody had his own agenda for the day so I ended up chilling out at the guesthouse. I did take a walk around the markets and the town’s main square. There were so many tourists and colourfully dressed locals. The festival would be going on for a few more days, but we had our next destination ahead – China!
(We were in Sapa April 29-30)