We both had back aches this morning, the mattress really was s***. It sunk so badly in the middle it was like sleeping in a pit, we still slept right through though.
We got up early for breakfast then finished packing our bags and checked out. We left our big bags in a storage room as they were too big to carry on our twelve kilometre trek. Chris was worried about leaving the iPad behind, he rarely let's it out of his sight! But we weren't sure how safe it would be in the home stay.
We met our new guide outside our hotel, there were only eight of us in the group. Five of them were a French family who later became annoying and one was an American girl named Dani who was lovely.
Our guide was only eighteen years old! Her name was Chu and she was really sweet and funny. She was also a local girl from one of the villages. She was so small she looked about twelve. All the women in Sapa are small, they make me feel tall and make Chris look like a giant lol. I noticed they all have small feet but with really big toes! Maybe it's to help them balance along those really narrow paths.
As we ventured further down the road Chu stopped and gave us all the option of walking the easy route along a road or walking along the rice paddies between the valley which was a little bit harder. We all chose to walk through the rice paddies to get the best experience. I was quite impressed with the old French lady, I thought she would hold us back but she spent most of the time leading the group!
We were joined by several local villagers. They were all very friendly and chatty to us and seemed to stay with at least two tourists.
I had a ten year old help me climb up the hills, it was very funny, she had no problem jumping over rocks and gaps and she done it in flip flops! Old women were also managing to jump and climb with ease, they had babies on their backs! I suppose they are all so used to it as they do that walk every day. Not once did we see them put the babies down!
We were very lucky today, the mist had completely cleared from the tops of the hills and the sun was shining brightly. We could now see why Sapa was famous for its beautiful green rice paddies. Hundreds of layers skilfully carved into the sides of the hills to create what looked like giant steps. Pipes and water ways had been designed to direct the water running down from the tops of the hills straight into each level to create a shallow pool, which when viewing from the other side of the valley looked like a shimmering mirror in the sun light. We had seen plenty of photos which looked great but seeing it all with our own eyes was amazing.
The first village we walked through was Ylinhho where the black H'Mong tribe lived. We stopped here for a while and ate lunch by the river. The women and children that walked with us from Sapa town began selling to us, they were so persistent! Especially the young children. "You buy from mee?! You buy from meeeee?!" Over and over they repeated this line in the most winey voice. We didn't buy anything so the lady that walked with us wasn't very pleased, she was still polite though. That's when we met Dani, she was sitting at the same table as us. She decided to buy some jewellery thinking the lady might leave afterwards. But no, that only made the woman try to sell even more to her lol.
After lunch we continued to walk to Lao Chai Village. We had to cross a concrete bridge that was about fifteen meters above a river and had no barriers either side! It was only about four meters wide, I felt so nervous walking across it, I don't know how I'm gonna manage the bungee jump in NZ later this year. I couldn't look down at the sides and would only walk in the middle while motorbikes sped past and cattle crossed from both sides along the edges without a care!
We noticed most of the kids in the village had snotty noses and there was one baby with really chubby cheeks that was so giggerly. We had to get a few photos of them.
Once through the village we continued onto Ta Van village, this was where Chu lived. There were also some Zay minorities living there, they had a very strong chinese culture, they dressed differently and spoke in a different dialect too. They didn't seem to notice us like others did in the village.
Finally we reached the end of our trek. Chu took us into a large wooden house to meet the family we were going to be staying with tonight. They were young and friendly and made us feel very welcomed. We had a few hours free before dinner so we decided to look for a bar down the road. The beers in the home stay were so expensive compared to town but I guess that's because they have to be transported so far. Dani wanted to catch up on some sleep after being kept up last night. She had shared a train cabin with the Frenchies and told us they were drinking wine and eating cheese untill late, then talked loudly throughout the rest of the night. Oh and the old man apparently snores very loudly, great.
I went upstairs to the very large open plan bedroom. There were about twelve double mattresses with mosquito nets above them. I felt sorry for Dani who was already curled up and trying to sleep while the Frenchies were on the other side talking as loud as they could! No respect for others, they were so pushy during the walk too, shoving past everyone including myself.
We managed to find a bar with a pool table but it was just way to expensive for the drinks! The table was covered in bird crap anyway. So we walked into another and sat down outside. The back looked out over more green rice paddies in the far distance and small wooden houses just in front of us. It was very peaceful, we watched swifts swoop and dive from left to right chasing after insects in the air. We could just make out some mist sweeping over the tops of the hills and mountains. The air was fresh and cool. Chris ended up drinking three large bottles of beer plus my one as well! We hadn't eaten much and I could see in his eyes he was beginning to feel the beer go to his head. We stayed a little longer and tried to play with the bar owners puppy. She looked curious and kept coming over to see us, she was a timid pup and seemed to have forgotten how to play, like it was alien to her.
Once Chris finished the fourth beer we went back and got freshened up for dinner. I pulled up a tiny stall and sat in front of the fire that had chips sizzling away in some oil. Chris also joined me but as soon as he stood up one of the French people jumped in his place. Then the others came over to join. I noticed a black dog sneak into the kitchen, I got up to see what he was up to and within a flash my place was also taken. They didn't even bother asking if we were finished sitting there. Oh well, dinner was about to be served so we waited at the table.
It had turned quite chilly outside so the guys brought the table in. It was really nice sitting around the big table as we all shared our thoughts of the trek. The food was delicious, once we had finished they brought out a bottle of home made rice wine! It tasted similar to Raki, I didn't like it but Chris loved it! He kept asking to fill up the bottle. We all did a couple of shots each, then at 8pm the Frenchies decided they were going to bed. It was so early and they wanted us all to be quiet so they could sleep. It was very difficult, Chris, Dani and I sat up with Chu and the family. Chu brought our a pack of playing cards, that's when the drinking games began and we became louder.
At 10pm the old French man came down the stairs and ordered the family to stop and be quiet so they could sleep. I thought it was extremely rude considering they were in their home, not a hotel. Plus they showed no consideration for Dani the night before when they sat up drinking wine and spoke loudly when she was napping earlier.
None of us wanted to stop so the girls took us to a bar across the road. Chi and Dani taught us a couple of card games, Chris didn't learn any of them because he was concentrating more on the rice wine. He kept pouring us shots every few minutes! I had to mix mine with coke. It was really funny watching Chris get drunk, he got louder and louder lol. Then the bar owner came over to join Chris for a few shots. Chris showed the man how to shot while linking arms and pushed him into having two or three in a row then guzzle down his beer! After the owner almost threw up he turned to Chu and politely asked if we could leave then lol. I don't think he could keep up with Chris.
We thanked them and said good bye then we wondered back to the house. It was very quiet and we were very clumsy getting in. To be honest we didn't make any effort to be quiet as we climbed up the creaky stairs to the bedroom. I could hear the old man snoring loudly so I impersonated him while giggling away. Chris stomped up and down the stairs and back and fourth to the toilet. I knew he was being sick because I could hear him! The walls were very thin throughout the house.
Suddenly I heard some movement from the other side of the room. We had woken one of them up and the snoring had stopped, lol I quickly pretended to be asleep as I saw someone climb down the stairs. It was only 11:30pm so it was still early really. I laid on the really comfy mattress waiting for Chris to come back, he took ages though so I fell a sleep.
Charlotte & Chris