Well the overnight train was fun... Not! The trains are so old they are so bumpy, we both didn't sleep much at all! Anyway made it safely to Sa pa where we were taken to our hotel, we had a shower in the grottiest room ever (quite concerned what our room would be like when we check in later) then met our tour guide for the next few days. Her name was May, she was 17 years old and was a black h'mong person from a village close by. She wore traditional dress and had really good English. Only a middle aged German couple were in our tour group with us. They were friendly though and spoke good English.
We headed off into SaPa valley, unfortunately it was really cloudy so we couldn't see the views of the mountains and rice paddys we knew were supposed to be there! The trek was pretty easy, down a road where other tourists took the bus or a motorbike to get to the villages. Once we started walking we were joined by 2 older village ladies (also in traditional dress) and 2 little kids. We called them our 'groupies' each tour group had some, they never spoke much English but made you things out of plants (like horses out of stems) and were very friendly. They walked about 6km with us until we got to Lao chai village where we had lunch, and they tried to sell us stuff, we managed to not buy anything! We the. Continued the hike for a couple of hours to Ta Van village where dzay people live. Along the way walked through rice paddys, saw a group of about 20 little kiddies using old hessian sacks to slide down a steep hill, they were all making silly hats out of leaves and bark, having so much fun! Was do nice to see and so different to how Aussie kids now play together on iPads and xboxes! Also saw a couple of kids using bikes to fly down the hills on the muddy paths, neither had breaks so they had to use their foot on the back wheel, no way I would have tried it! We then went to the home stay which was a basic house with sandy floor, our beds were upstairs. Our guide was very much into rice wine so she made us play card games and have shots!!! None of the family living in the house spoke English but they were all friendly. The next day we set off hiking again, went up the mountain behind the village and went past another village. Some tricky paths between 2 wet rice paddys, only a thin plank to walk on! No falls that day though thank goodness! We then had lunch in a village and got the bus back to sapa town. We had a look around town, travel tip- if coming to Vietnam buy all your travel gear here!!! They make the brand the north face, and gortex jackets, pants and shoes were all about a tenth of the price of those in Australia, devvo it's something we got before we came!!! The town itself had lots of markets, so not much to do when you can't buy stuff! Way too hard to carry things around for 6 months! We went and had an hour long massage instead for around $10.
The next day we had the same guide and trekked down to cat cat village which was only an hour away, but right down the bottom of a valley. It was really pretty and the town was based around a waterfall. We watched a traditional dance and tracked back to the hotel, sensational views! That night we got the overnight train back to ha noi, this time we did get a soft bed, but I still didn't sleep that well!! Bumped into a kiwi couple we met having beers on the street in Hanoi.