I've now been in Sapa for four days, we're about to leave the town to catch the overnight train back to Hanoi.
I've seen so much it's really hard to put a coherent report together - so I'll just do my best.
The first thing you notice in Sapa is the women from the Black H'Mong tribe whose village is about 5km from Sapa. They roam the streets selling their wares.
We got in early in the morning and had breakfast in a resteraunt and a couple of them stood in the window holding up their blankets and other items. The funny things was everytime you looked around there were more - it was like a horror movie, or they were sharks who smelt fresh tourist meat. A couple of the older ones actually came inside and started putting their clothes 'on' us coupled with a "You buy from me". When we went outside the frenzy began (see some of the photos) with each of us having 4 or 5 of them each in our faces. They had a comeback for every statement: "I already have one" - "Buy two" was a personal favourite. It was pretty overwhelming at first - if only we knew how relentless they were.
A lot of the younger girls have learnt excellent English from the tourists, a lot of them are really funny. They ask you where you're from (along with age, brothers and sisters, married etc) and when you say Australia, they say 'G'day Mate', when you say England, the say 'Awright Geeza'. They all still wear their traditional clothes, which is good to see even though they;ve adopted so many Western traditions. A few of them adopted the girls in our group, calling them sisters - altough it's just another good way of selling stuff.
It was funny over the next couple of days how our image of them changed (the younger girls that is). That night as we were walking back to the hotel, we saw them all sitting in an internet cafe- turns out they all have email addresses! The follwoing night we want into a bar and there was a group of them playing pool! Not only that, they were bloody good, one of them, Mimi, was the best player I've ever seen!
Unfortunately some of the women are getting a little too aggressive for their own good, and we had couple of bad experiences. We saw one woman chasing a Thai lady down the road. Turns out the Thai lady had decided against a blanked and walked away, and the H'Mong woman had been chasing her for the past 15 minutes - Sarah from our group was really firm with her, and she still didn't get it.
The last 2 days we took a trek through the countryside and visited a few remote villages. At the start of the first day it bucketed down, I'm talking the road becomed a river bucketing. Dopey here forgot to bring his raincoat, so I picked one up for the princely sum of 15,000 Dong(about $1.50).The rest of the group then copied me cause it was so good at covering the our packs.
After about 2 hours, tehe rain stopped and the fog lifted- the views were spectacular,made even better by the rain. Level upon level of rice terraces, glistening in the sun and full of water, little waterfalls everywhere - every time we'd come around another hill we'd have to stop to take more photos. We passed through a village, guess who lived there? That's right, the Black H'Mong ppeople. We were then treasted to the rest of the days of, 'You buy from me'!
We spent the night in a Homestay owned by a woman, Mrs Zhu, who was so hard. She pored the group 5 shots of rice spirit through dinner alone, and continued throughout the night, (while taking hits from a massive bong in the kitchen occasionally). She continued to neck them the next morning. Luckily being one of the bigger guys in the group, I got away OK with it, but some of the girls were feeling the worse for wear in the morning!
We walked for a short while the next day, (again harassed by H'Mong - too much so in my opinion) and caught a bus back to Sapa, and headed back to Hanoi that night.
So thats Sapa, I can't believe it was only 4 days! I'm now back in Hanoi, and we leave for Hue tonight.
Hope everyone is well and enjoying winter - it was 38 here yesterday.