Once back in Hanoi we were moved hotels a little further Into The Old Quarter due to someone being ill and occupying the room we had booked, happily moved, showered and rested we headed into the city for some dinner, found a lovely little place in the old quarter, stuffed our faces with ribs and pizza then headed to a roof terrace for some cocktails :-)
The next day we had to check out at 12 noon but unfortunately we're not catching the train until 10pm. Difficult day due to us both struggling with cities and the amount of noise and people, but we made it without murdering someone, or each other
...just haha and thankfully we are so happy to have a beautiful comfy cabin on the train in which we both surprisingly slept quite well. Arriving in Sapa at 6am we had a slightly terrifying minibus ride to our accommodation (overtaking on blind bends, squealing rubber around the corners) we grabbed some breakfast and waited for our room. After an unexpected nap from the both of us we got our bums up and out into Sapa. Sapa is pretty small in comparison to what we've been used to so it is a very refreshing change. We spent the afternoon walking around the town, a little trip to the market and then just a chill out before heading out for some dinner and bed.
This mornings wake up call was at 6am and happened to be a house close by blaring some very strange Vietnamese music (something that you could probably march to, or invade a country to) so there wasn't much hope in getting back to sleep, and we were heading off at 9am anyway so a lazy morning was had before some breakfast and then meeting our guide from Sapa Sisters, 'Big' Chi. First up she showed us on a map what we would be doing we had opted for the lesser tourist track and it was definitely the right decision. As we write this entry we are sat in a small village called Tap Sun Looking over the rice paddies in the lush greens, with a beer while the sunsets. The trek wasn't easy, around 17km up and down hills, even though our guide Chi approximately 5 foot in height and size 2 shoe made it look incredibly easy haha. We've spent the day walking through local villages with lovely people. Throughout Sapa there are around 7 different tribes. Our guide is within the Hmong and some of the others are Red Dao, Giay people, all have their own traditional outfits and unique languages.
From lush paddies, rocky roads to walking along tiny gutter sides it truly has been a wonderful and hot experience! Incredible to think how these people work the fields in such heat. We walked by goats and Buffaloes, lots of children either selling us bracelets or playing in the local waterfalls, so many dogs, chickens, ducks! We had an amazing lunch in the village of Hang Da, Before another trek to Chi's house where we are staying for the night before trekking back to Sapa tomorrow! Chi's house was much larger than we expected, our bed was up on the rafters with mosquito nets and small mattresses. She made us a wonderful dinner where we sat with her and her husband and daughter. Unfortunately tears began so it was perfect timing for baby roo to get a new home (Katie's old cuddly toy) The little smile was lovely to see how happy she was at receiving the soft toy! A dinner was had of vegetables, spring rolls, rice, morning glory, pork...truly amazing food, accompanied by rice wine. For those who've never had rice wine let's say it's an experience haha we were pretty tuckered so hit the sack early! After a strange sleep we woke to tea and coffee with banana pancakes and spring rolls. After saying our goodbyes to the brood and zoo (dogs cats chickens crickets) we continued our trek. Slightly more touristy today as unfortunately Andrews eaten something which his body doesn't appreciate and has the runs, so we've took the slightly easier route! But still saw plenty, walked through the bamboo forest, huge waterfalls along the way before stopping at Chi's aunts house in Lao Chai for a lunch and then the trek finished with us jumping on the backs of two motorbikes driven by Chi's family and encountering the scariest journey yet, more so for Katie due to her driver liking speed and taking over vehicles on 30 degree bends! But we survived just back in time for a quick shower, a bus journey back to the station a bite to eat and the nigh train back to Hanoi.
As we'd seen enough of Hanoi we've spent two days recuperating in a hotel close by to the airport ready for our flight in the morning to Chiang Mai! Had all our meals at a lovely little family run restaurant at amazing prices, only a couple of dollars a time for two big meals and beers! We shall see you in Thailand!