We arrived at our hotel from the HaLong Bay tour at about 4pm & we were to be picked up for our next tour at 6.30pm. The first night was the journey on the night train. They were similar to the ones in China although these had 4 beds per cabin & were slightly more plush! We arrived at Sapa at 5.30am & then had an hours drive up the mountain to our hotel. We couldn't check in until 12pm so we had our breakfast & had our first tour around the village. Our guide was only 17 & didn't speak very good english. We couldn't really understand much of what she said, we just nodded to most of it! As soon as we came out of our hotel we were bombarded by villagers asking whats your name, where are you from, how old are you. I think that was pretty much the only english the older ladies knew. The girls tho knew a bit more & we befriended Chi & Sao who were 9. They followed us on our tour down to a waterfall & all the way back up to our hotel. They were really sweet & we couldn't believe that they didn't try to sell us anything! We had the whole afternoon to ourselves but we just crashed out after the journey & the hike up the hills from the village. In the evening we walk down to the shops & stopped off for a beer & hot chocolate at a little cosy bar with a fire. It was so cold up in the mountains. The next day we left on our trekking day at 9.30, leaving our bags at the hotel & taking with us clothes & bits for our homestay in the village. We met Soa & Chi outside the hotel who suddenly had armfuls of bags, bangles & cushion covers! We bought some little bits off of them & got on our way (they didn't follow us this time!) We trekked for hours, luckily it was mostly downhill. During the day it gets quite warm especially when you are hiking about. On some bits we walked through the rice paddies on the edge of the ridges, we all had wet or muddy feet where we had fallen into the water. The stones were quite slippery & it was quite dangerous. Some of the villagers followed us again & the ladies latch onto the girls holding their hands over rocks and helping them up hills. It was good for me as I was a bit clutzy & kept falling over. Altho obviously at the end "you buy from me?" was all you could hear & we ended up with more pillow cases! The homestay was cool, it was a frontless building with a toilet, dining room & kitchen, two bedrooms downstairs & dorms upstairs. Charlie & I were given the "honeymoon suite" which was nice but it was right at the front of the house next to the front door & was a bit spooky! We also saw other guest buying some really nice handmade blankets. They make all of their clothes/blankets/pillows out of woven hemp & are really colourful. We decided we would treat ourselves to one to go with our pillows! (This was before we realised it may cost us 200 pounds to send home!). We had some lovely food & rice wine & a pretty good nights sleep. At around 10am the next morning we made our way back to the hotel. We hoped a mini bus would pick us up around the corner but we had to hike until after lunch when the mini bus came! After dinner we took the night train back to Hanoi & arrived there at 5am & had to sleep in the reception of our hotel, classy! Sapa was definately one of our favourite places so far. The rice fields & mountains were so beautiful & all the oxs, ducks, chickens, dogs & children(!) roam free around the fields & hills & it was really peaceful. Somewhere we'd love to live, until we heard about their tradition of eating live monkey brains.