We left the airport for our hotel in Hanoi, exhilerated that we had actually managed to get into the kingdom of Vietnam, but dead on our feet after almost 36 hours on the run.
Hanoi is the capitol of Vietnam with (depending on how you count) almost 6.5 million inhabitants where 5 million (counted with my gut) of these are at any time of day going somewhere on their motos all the while using their horn non stop. We met an Australian guide that explained to us that the Vietnameese people speak mostly three languages: Vietnameese, English and Horn. That means that everly single one of the "locos mopedistos" will honk at you four times:
1) "I'm behind you!"
2) "I'm pasing you!"
3) "I've pased you!"
4) One for good measure
Needless to say Gard was soon on the verge of loosing his mind, but luckilly he was also quite often on the verge of one of the local shops that sell local draught beer for 5000 dong (approx 0.25$).
In Hanoi we met an old aquaintence of Cecilie from the days she spent in Leuven. He was working out of Singapore and using his spare time to travel in Asia. The day after we hopped on the NIGHTRAIN going to Lao Cai. Still a bit jet lagged, we felt the train snail its way through the Vietnameese mountainside. After the morning propaganda announcement was done, we were ready to get on the bus taking us the last, scenic part up to Sapa.
In Sapa we got a great room with a nice view overlooking the entire valley. Our guide, Dong, met us and went through the travelplans with us. Before leaving we asked if we should bring our own sleeping bags, to which he convinced us "no". That would later come back to haunt us.
The Fancipan mountain (Fancypants according to Gard), is Vietnam's highest mountain rising 3143 m. We set off and quickly understood that most of the walk would be vertical. The first night we slept at 2800m, and it was a cold and uncomfortable night. Our own sleeping bags safely tucked away at the hotel we pulled out the replacement ones. Cecilies was plain and paper thin, while mine was decorated with watermelons, obviously intended for sleep-overs, not mountain trekking.
Using what we had Cecilie was cocooned inside her sleepingbag with her poncho wrapped tightly around for extra warmth. It was a cold and uncomfortable night, but we got through OK. But the mountain had more in store for us.
More on that in the next entry!