We decided to take the sleeper train up to Sapa and it was a great idea. The journey took about 7-8 hours and we had compartments with 4 people in each one. I could just about lie straight in the bed and it was a really comfortable nights sleep.
We arrived early morning into Lao Cai station and jumped into a bus to our hotel (Summit View Hotel), about 90 minutes away. The views from the drive were amazing, we saw the sun rising through the masses of clouds that had collected in the valleys and the mountains looked amazing.
We arrived at the hotel and as we'd decided to do our own thing in Sapa we didn't have to join a tour like everyone else. We tried to make it up to the radio mast where the views are supposed to be amazing. Apparently that path was closed so we went to another view point and the views over the town were stunning. There is a lot of French influence up in Sapa, the buildings, bakeries and the third language in restaurants etc. (if there was one) tended to be French.
We finished that walk and went to get some lunch. From reading the guidebook it looked like motorbike was a good way to see most of the sights around the area. Ali and Cathy weren't sure at first but we decided to get 2 bikes and see how it went. We dove up to Silver waterfall which was really nice. We then just went for a bit of a drive and the views from the mountain roads were just stunning. You could see all of the rice terraces where the locals had shaped the land into series of steps which kept the water in the rice paddies rather than it just flowing down into the valley. It was all really impressive to see just driving along. It was getting a bit chilly once the sun set. Cathy wanted to have a go at driving one of the bikes so we did a bit of a lap of the town. As always seems to be the case both girls really enjoyed the bikes, it really is a good way to see places like Sapa.
The next day we headed to a small village of one of the mountain tribes. Getting there was all downhill and the sun was shining, it was a great walk. The views again were just brilliant. At the bottom there was a really beautiful waterfall and after a steady walk back up to the town it was mid afternoon already. We had a wander around the town itself as we'd not explored too much and by the time we'd had some dinner it was time to head back to Lao Cai to catch our train back to Hanoi.
We arrived back in Hanoi at something stupid like 4am, we got a cab to the hotel we'd been staying at as our bags were still there and the bloke who organised our tickets to Sapa had told the night watchman to give us a spare room for a few hours which was really cool, as we got a few hours more kip. Our last day in Hanoi we just had a wander around the city again. I booked my flight from Danang to Ho Chi Minh as I'd finally worked out how and when I was going to leave Vietnam and make it to Singapore. A whole 4 days in advance, how organised am I?! At 8pm on the 3rd Nov we began our journey to Hue...