Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 3 in Sapa, North Vietnam

Woo... so I've been out of the blogging world for quite some time. Stupid lappie died on me and I sent it to be formatted and spent 80 bucks. No more MS Office software in my lappie now BOO! I even lost my Adobe Photoshop software CD and gotta make use with my bro's older version with not much features, sigh!

Can't believe I've been dragging for so long to blog about my Sapa trip and yeah, I was in Hanoi last month, at this date as today. Which means if I turn back time to a month ago, I'll be leaving by train to Sapa tonight! Time flies, innit?

Seriously, our trip to Vietnam wouldn't be complete without stepping in to Sapa.

We took taxi from our hotel to Hanoi train station which was just about 10 minutes distance. There're a lot of small stalls outside the station selling light foods and drinks. But the station itself is a very old and dirty building and even everyone inside looked weird.

I felt like I've been transferred back to the past. Back to pre-war period. There were a few men who dressed up like soldiers sitting near us but in very unhygenic state. Unruly hair, shoes without socks and kept me wondering if they're really soldiers?? Soldiers from the 20s wtf. And next to them were some goods on the floor and inside one of the rattan bag I saw a dog. Which, I think it's dead and ready to be cooked anytime T____T

A man guided us to our cabin when our train arrived and the railway looked very very spooky, probably I watched too much of korean horror movies.. :(

4 sleepers cabin which we shared with 2 gweilos thank God.

For security reason.. LOL

We overnight in the train which took about 8 hours to reach Lao Cai before taking another connecting coach for about 1 hour to Sapa.

Sapa lies in the very north west of Vietnam near the border of China. It is a quiet and cold town on a mountain, home to variety of ethnic minority peoples like the black H'mong and Dzao people.

It was very fogy when we arrived the next morning and the weather was indeed very cold - thanks to Nghiep who adviced us to get a winter jacket before proceeding up to Sapa.

Chau Long Sapa Hotel where we stayed for a night.

After taking a nice shower (mind you we went out the whole day the day before and straight up to overnight train without taking shower since morning!!!) and getting some rest, we went around the small town to look for some food, some authentic Vietnamese food.

Pho bo - beef noodle soup. No trips to Vietnam is complete without trying out this dish.

The bf's very Cina style punya stir fried noodles - pho xao bo hoac ga

Guess he's not that adventurous when comes to food. I am the type who'll try out the specific place's popular local delicacies when I travel. For example, I won't look for nasi lemak in Vietnam or pho bo in Hong Kong -__-"

Little Sapa spring roll.

Completed with LaoCai beer and cafe sua. See? Very localized, HAHA!

Sapa is such a colourful town with people from the local hill tribes who head into the town to sell their colourful clothing and handicrafts.

There're a lot of stalls selling colourful traditional costumes which made me salivates but not buying in the end 'cause I find no point of buying it wtf.. We were also approached by a number of nicely dressed black H'mong people who offered us all kind of souvenirs

Elder women were more insistent. Its really hard to say "No" to them, probably they reminded me of my grandmama who's about the same age. But, buying from them means there're chances of us being attacked by more of them.

We've been indulging in this pork satay everyday during our trip in Vietnam, it's really good and I'm missing it already..

Some local dessert which I've yet to figure out what was it.

And oh, I got this checkered jacket from Hanoi! Yeah, right after I got this jacket, I had my bag slashed WTFFFF... And those gloves I got from a stall in Sapa. "You want gloves?? Sapa is very cold!!!" That's how I was being approached.

Roses again. This is the stall where the bf got me ONE stalk of rose, hRm..

We signed up for half day tour from a local travel agent to the nearby Cat Cat Village, about 3km from Sapa town.

Kids sliding down the staircase was a common sight. They basically lived a very simple life. It's a social community where everybody looks after each other. The tourguide told us that if there're 2 toddlers playing together aged 2 and 3, its the responsiblity of the elder to take care of the younger. They're much matured compared to kids here.

H'mong people make their own clothes independantly. It takes many months to make a piece of clothing item. They dye the cloth using indigo plant (as above) and they typically weave and embroider the fabric themselves. I was shocked to learn that a bride would stay at home for months/ years to make her own wedding gown! Wahhh!!! Crazy!

We paid a visit to a local H'mong house.

H'mong houses are large wooden structure with high ceiling, dirt floors and no windows. Pardon the bad quality of my pictures of it's totally dark inside. A pot of water was kept boiling to keep themselves warm and I was amazed that they can still do stiches in the dark -_-"

The kitchen.

Barrels of dyes from indigo plants used to colour their garments.

Cute H'mong kids! The young bare bottom girl was crying and the elder girl tried to keep her calm, how cute! ;)

This is one of the best shot we had :)

The scenery was surreal, but the journey wasn't easy. Noticing there're less tourists after a long journey, we asked the tourguide if it wasn't famous touristy destination.

"Oh, most tourist will only visit Cat Cat Village. This package you signed up involves very difficult trekking, not much people can do it.."


We were not informed of this 'VERY DIFFICULT TREKKING' when we signed up.

It was indeed very difficult. The very last time I had trekking like this was back in secondary school time.. I aged, I can no longer take up this challenge...

*sigh* No wonder I was that tired..

But the hard work was worth it all. This is the first time I experienced the true countryside.

Toddlers were left unattended and the adults didn't seemed to worry about their safety unlike in Malaysia. They played with tyres, tins, flattened bottles, they rocked on a piece of wood, and they still looked happy. ;)

Everything moved at a very slow pace there and I even suggested to the bf to consider spending the rest of our lifes there.

Local tourguide who speaks fluent English.

We came across this stall selling sticky rice in bamboo shoot and some roast meats. The sticky rice taste something like the local Malay's lemang but it's taken with brown sugar.

Alast, we gave up and did not complete the full journey as the trekking was getting too tough.

The sky turned dark around 6pm and not sure where all the people gone. The streets were more or less deserted, although hotels and restaurants are being built everywhere. It was kinda spooky and we dare not wander far from our hotel.

The hotel lobby.

Since there's nothing much to do at night, we just camwhored in the room.


I really love their star printed tees and I bought 2 pieces in green and red!

And bought a lot more for my nephews and niece back home and they gonna rock the house during this CNY ;)

We took up another tour package from another travel agent the next day and there were much more beautiful sights and more amazing experiences..

I'm missing Sapa already...


leksw said...

yay!! cryst is back!! lol.. looks like sapa is really a great place.. very countryside.. good place to spend when retire..

i'm shocked you can still remember the name of each dish..

got souvenir for sheau mou?

Esther said...

Gosh...this is that kinda trip that i like...looking at different typical cultural, trying their local delicacies... Your trip to Sapa is indeed a very interesting trip....wonder y we didn't tot of Sapa when me and shin was in vietnam 2 yrs ago....

Im also missing vietnam...somehow, this country just steal my heart away... :P

Anggie's Journal said...

hei, seem a very nice place to me.. it look cold, the scenery was nice also, something like Nepal ...
Those pictures u took was beautiful ... u make me wanna go Vietnam lei .... :)

I never been to Vietnam, My hub was offering me to go... me ... belagak la... konon nak pergi nicer place ... :P

Ok .... thanks for sharing this ... will take note on this "SAPA" north Vietnam ...

Anggie's Journal said...

BTW, u mention 'VERY DIFFICULT TREKKING' ??? how difficult ar ?? i wander i can or not ( u know what i means la ... shhhhh, hihihi)

If go to Sapa means have to go tru this 'VERY DIFFICULT TREKKING' ????

c r y s t said...

leksw: Yaya I'm back!! Got miss me mou?? :P Eh, nolah! You thought my memory so good arr WTFF I actually take picture of the menu LOL!

Souvenir? It's the thought that counts right?? ;)

esther: I <3 trips like this too ;) I guess most ppl won't think of Sapa and most ppl never heard of Sapa as well cos it's kinda ulu.. I just stumbled upon some blogs last time and those pictures caught my attention ;)

anggie: It was cold when we went but according to a source I got from internet, the weatcher changes very quickly in Sapa, it's the place you can experience 4 seasons in a day WTFF haha!

The trekking we signed up for was difficult, but there're a lot more packages available which doesn't require difficult trekking. Trekking is only when you wanna go into those villages. Sapa is a town, so no trekking ;)

SamsonKim said...

Welcome Back Cryst.
Miss u a lot .... =)
Seem that u really had a wonderful Vietnam trip!! *Happy*
Wish i got chance go to Vietnam also.. but b4 Vietnam i want go Hong Kong 1st~ =)

Have A Nice day~ take care

c r y s t said...

samsonkim: Ya, Vietnam was amazing especially Sapa. I'd love to go HK again too cos the other time I was there for only a day *sigh* and Bangkok! *salivates* omg my list is too long, guess gotta buy Toto first.. :(

Nataly said...

Sapa - Vietnam

I did this trek with a guide on my second day in Sapa. The route was not busy at all and we only bumped into one other group along the way.

The weather was misty and beautiful, a very special time for me to enjoy the peaceful surroundings that only Sapa can offer.

Compared to the trek to Cat Cat, this was far more remote. Would recommend both!