Arrived in Lao Cai some 12 hours later, which is a border city with China. Sapa is around 35km away. Instead of taking the tourist bus into town this one looked like a reall easy one to hitch hiked. One straight road all the way up the mountain, every single car or vehicle passing is going there! So across the bridge towards the roundabout which had the road to Sapa, where I intended to get my hitch. Before I even got there a geezer in a expensive 4x4 saw me mooching along with my bags and pulled over. I asked if he was going to Sapa, and said no money. And in I jumped. He didn't speak much English, and we slowly snaked our way up to Sapa. Once in Sapa I jumped out, said thanks, gave him a handshake and hunted down my cheap digs. Found it straight away, Sapa backpackers at $3 a night. There I met Lidia, a really nice lass fro Leicester, 19, who had done a working visa in Aus. And had also been traveling round Asia. I pulled up google maps and skwied any possible trekking routes in the area. There was a perfect one marked just down the road, a giant loop. I took a dodge to go scope it out. It was a long walk down the road but I eventually found my turn off. The scenery was amazing. Full of rice paddy fields. Sapa is full of local tribes woman are literally hobbits, and wear funny pieces of cloth or cylindrical hats around their heads, wear dodge velvet clothes with lace and s*** on and carry big baskets on their back. There everywhere and always talk to you, they act as guides and homestays in the local villages are really popular. I decided to do my own thing but still got pestered en route whilst I scoped the starting point out. Hitched a ride back up the hill.
Back at the hostel me and Lidia had a good craic on. Was really cold on the night as it was so misty. It reminded me of the alps. Felt nice.
The next day I started early to go for hike. I had google maps to I followed each turn on my phone. There was lots of other tourists en route all with their little hobbit guides. Trekking reminded me of Nepal and was really nice to be walking again. It was still misty so the views were limited but I still got some amazing views of the rice terraces. I eventually made it to the village at the top Na Phin, (think that was its name), and there I started my way back to Sapa. I eventually made it back to the main road and hitched another ride to Sapa. Lidia was gone when I got back which was a shame as I would have liked to say bye to her.
Was going to leave on the night but there I met Yin, a real sweet lass who spoke really good English from Hong Kong, who had also done a visa in Aus. She too had hitched hiked in from Lao Cai, and was even on the same train as me. She had came to volunteer at the Sapa hope centre. There was boards advertising for it in the hostel. Peter the owner owns both. I decided to tag along and go with her as it would be good to mix it up. So me and her got a lift from May who also works at the centre. We drove down to where the end of my trek joined the road. The hope centre is a place for homeless street children and has only been open 4 months, and its still in the development stages. There was lots of kids there when I went in, and I met Harry from England who had been there 3 weeks and Locky from aus and his lass Nicky from England. They were super nice people and I really enjoyed their company. On the night we all had dinner together, with Peter too. I met Walter (Italy) too, had been there 4 weeks. The meals were $1 each and the accommodation was free. I was also introduced to Cha, a real cheeky chappy who has got abandoned by his parents and now lives at the hope centre. He was really loud but a funny little guy, ages around 6 (we think). There was a real nice vibe, and we all tried the local rice wine lol.
My job the next day was move lots of sand from one pile in the front to down some steps in the back garden. Was real hard work as this time the sun was out. Meanwhile Harry and Walter were plastering the front wall. The place was really laid back and they only expect you to 2 hours a work each day, which normally starts after lunch. We had more skran on the night, rice with veg and tofu etc. Chilled and read book.
Lifted more sand the next day. Meanwhile the wall had already dried and been painted out front by Nicky. She's such a good artist. This time we had the tunes going and was real nice. On the evening a new girl came called Michelle from Canada. After we all mooched up the hill to find Cha's parents house to find out why they can't look after him. En route we seen some dead snakes. We got there and Cha was in loud voice as ever, with all the other kid just looking at him and being quiet. The parents were in. Found out Sunderland stayed up on the night!
Shoveled more sand (was a massive pile!). Chilled and finished the Hobbit on the night. Was a really good book.
Today was the weekend and the Centre shuts down and everyone goes back to the hostel over the weekend to chill. Me May Yin and Michelle and Char hitched a ride back up to Sapa in some big 4x4 by. Started Frank Hebert's Dune, widely tipped as the greatest sci fi novel ever written. Every weekend there's a big show in town in the amphitheatre. We all watched and was nice.
Read more of Dune. Said bye to Yin, who was leaving back to China to hitch hike with her friend to Nepal. There was a blackout on the night. Chatted with some Spanish girl. Met Geeto from france and Joe from NZ. Talked to Harry on the night about his time in aus, and was really funny. He explained how he used to live in a car to save on the rent, and refereed to the other campervans next to his as his 'neighbors' lol. He also drove from Perth to Darwin!!!! Man that is far. Said bye to Locky and Nicky.
Walked down to the hope centre, which took 1hr. This time Geeto and Joe came too. Today we made an internal fence in the garden to make it more 'intruder proof', as over the weekend two of Peter's chickens he bought on the night had been stolen. Harry was in full swing as is a really handy guy. He in Peter's right hand man and it is a good leader, so canny. He's giant dude, 24, but looks well over 30. Big beard.
On the night we all paid $5 and had a big send off meal, having our own little spit roasted pig from the restaurant next door. It wasn't worth that as there wasn't an abundance of meat. We were eating all sorts. I ate one half of the nose. With its nostril and teeth all there. I felt like an animal! There was plenty of apple rice wine going about, and we had some normal wine too. There was plenty of toasts and we all had a good laugh. Harry's bus eventually came and he left. Said bye to Walter on the night too, who was with his Chinese missus, who were cycling around Asia. Was just me and Michelle left.
Finished off the fence the next day. Around 6oclock I said bye to everyone, May Peter Michelle and Char and hitched a ride back to Lao Cai. Got there to find the overnight sleeper train was only beds and no hard seats. Basically a tourist train. Was a whopping $26! I decided to just stay the night in Lao Cai and catch one the next day. Found one for $5 a night. Woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink and found probs the biggest cockroach of the trip. It even had wings by the looks of it. It didn't even bother me and I just turned off the light and went back to kip.
Checked out. Got train. For some reason I sweated like I had never sweated before. I was in the window seat with the sun on my side, but still. I hadn't had a shower in a few days and my body was covered in dirty dead skin. I sat tshirtless and had a roll of toilet paper by my side where I frequently had to dry myself down. It was like there was a tap coming on my belly and back. Eventually rolled back into Hanoi and I went back to the same hostel. Nice and airconned
Scoped out bus terminal but couldn't find it, turned out I was on the right road but just didn't walk far enough lol. Chilled on the night. Researched how to get to Cat Ba, discovered other train station which would take me there.