I think an electric blanket is set to be a future investment - I slept so well! I couldn't even stay up to watch Confessions of a Shopaholic it was so cosy!
The room outside of the blankets was not so cosy, and I quickly dressed to avoid the cold. I met Nat for breakfast at 8am, again managing to get out of my room without distress. We had scrambled egg and baguettes with some banana and passion fruit - yum.
I donned my wellies for the second day, hoping they'd get muddier than yesterday just to get my money's worth. We had to check out, and so my luggage went into storage, along with my bag of souvenirs that I worried would come out in smithereens based on the way the staff were throwing down the other bags. I chose to place my things in a corner where they hopefully wouldn't be disturbed.
We set off into the stunning sunshine with Van, sunglasses were a constant accessory alongside my three layers of clothing. The walk was due to be 12km, but apparently this was all on the flat, so we got a little spring in our steps as we learnt this. The trucks skimmed past our shoulders as we walked along the main road, before we went onto the muddy path towards Van's village. A quick toilet break made us prey to some children selling bracelets and even walking sticks made of bamboo, although I thought I was being challenged rather than sold to when a little boy slammed a bamboo pole in front of me as I walked over. We made our way past the group, where some ladies from Sapa town continued to walk with us, although not speaking as much English as the girls yesterday. As they walked in their sandals they helped us flailing tourists to negotiate the muddy path, providing much-needed security at numerous times as the mud moved beneath our feet. Of course when we made it to lunch the ever-popular phrase 'you buy from me' appeared and I guiltily bought some postcards and earrings from my helper. The postcards were water-damaged, but on learning that money was most likely all she'd have today I didn't feel too bad about my purchase.
Lunch was baguettes and omelette, with madeira cake and jam for dessert - very nice indeed. We then walked up to Van's house, where we met her mum and saw some weaving. I stayed to watch whilst something else was being shown, and ended up holding some of the material as her mum altered the pattern on her machine. We felt like giants as we wandered around her house, ducking at every step. Just as I was surprised that the girl had an email address, I was shocked to see a stereo system in Van's house - they had all the mod cons amongst the drying corn and sawdust-filled floors.
Next up was Ta Van village, where the Zay minorities live; we didn't buy anything in this village, but were tempted by the new styles that weren't in Sapa town. After letting the sun get to us we headed for a quick look at a homestay, much like the one in Cambodia, and then back on the bus. For some reason I picked the seat with the wheel arch again! Back at the hotel I took off my sweaty wellies and changed into cleanish clothes before heading over to good old 'Baguettes and Chocolat' for a hot chocolate and chocolate tart. Lush. We had photos with Van before going, as she had to go home rather than try hot chocolate with us: she earns between 50,000VND and 80,000VND per day, and yet pays 15,000VND each way to and from home for a motorbike ride. I think her tips must help a lot as they more than quadrupled her pay as all eight of us coughed up.
Dinner was chicken curry, spring rolls, fried pork, and of course rice, all eaten with chopsticks. We finished off Nat's passion fruit and then boarded the minibus back to Lao Cai for the train. Our bags were all squashed onto the bus again, with legs seen as easily movable if pushed against hard enough - they just don't care where it goes as long it's somewhere. I'd put my bag down first, and watched it like a hawk as it lay at the bottom of the pile, preparing to shout should anyone attempt to leave it behind.
It was a bumpy ride down to the station, where we arrived at 6.30pm: our train was at 8.45pm. After getting a ticket Nat, two other English girls, and I headed over for a drink at a cafe. I opted for hot chocolate again, but it was nowhere near the standard of 'Baguettes and Chocolat'. We wandered over to the station at 8pm where I haggled for some Pringles, then played cards under the blaring Vietnam versus Malaysia football match. A boy selling baguettes kept looking over our shoulders as we played, causing me some concern as I thought he'd tell Nat which cards I had! The tannoy shouted something at 8.15pm and off we headed to the train, saying our goodbyes until our planned meet in Hanoi tomorrow.
My cabin wasn't as nice as Thursday night, it had hairs in the bed, but I was sharing with an Aussie couple and one Vietnamese man so it was easy to drift off to sleep as the train took off towards Hanoi.