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Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 11: My 2nd day in Paradise... Sapa!

We woke up this morning with NO plan in place, so we asked for a map from the reception desk and picked a route for the day!  Yesterday, we did the red route... today, we decided to do to the green one and check out Ta Phin village! 

This time we decided to hire a motor taxi for $10.00 each, to drive us the 10kms there, wait for us at the other end of the village... a 7km trek, which we soon realized was ALL UPHILL!   Then, when we were finished, they would take us back up the mountain to Sapa.

We felt like we probably could have done the trek without our guide yesterday, so today, we were all on our own... a fun feeling actually!  We only ran into 4 other foreigners along our 4 hour trek! :)  We did, however run into plenty of local tribes people!  This little girl was herding her buffalo... As soon as she saw me behind her, she tapped the buffalo's butts and they quickly lined up, single filed!  If only it worked that well on elementary students!

I had NO IDEA buffallo were so tame!  This guy let me walk right up to him to snap a picture! 

For the sake of saving myself a lot of "typing time," I'll just simply say, the following pictures were from our trek, up the mountainside of Ta Phin Village... enjoy!

Aaron, embracing the paradise around him!

There were puppies EVERYWHERE along our trek!  Usually with an angry and protective momma dog to watch out for! 

a muddy pathway to someone's home in the village...

Inside this little shack, local tribesmen were crafting these awesome drums!

This might have been the only child in Sapa who didn't ask for money!  He just wanted to hang out!  We loved him!

The weather was great: a little drizzly rain here and there, blue skies with misty looking clouds dispersed throughout... Sometimes it was just nice to sit, take a break, and enjoy it all!


5 baby pigs, 1 lazy dog, and an unsupervised little girl with no pants on!  This pretty much sums up the life of a toddler in this village! 

I think this little boy was imagining he was a warrior, ready to take over the village around him! ... I also think he may have been a little special.  Cute, none the less!

 Towards the end of our trek through the village, we came across this makeshift bridge off the road and headed towards it.  On the other side, was a family, all hanging out outside their home...

This girl came and met us near the bridge, asking where we were from, and if we wanted to buy anything from her!  (I'm telling you... EVERYONE tries to sell you something!)  We ended up chatting for quite a while.  Her and her neice were so sweet! :)

We jumped back on our motor taxis, who were waiting for us, just like they said (I love when people are dependable!) and headed back to Sapa for a late afternoon lunch here in the center of town! 

I'm quite confident these were in the top 3 best spring rolls I've ever had! ($2.00)

Across the street from the restaurant, tons of Hmong women had gathered and were yelling, "You buy something!  Buy from me!" to everyone eating on the deck of the restaurant!  The only thing I can compare them to is a peacock!  When someone looked even slightly interested in buying something, they all unfolded their colorful blankets and flashed them for all to see!  It was like a peacock fanning it's tail feathers!  AMAZING!

 After lunch, we took a little stroll / turned hike, through the "behind the scenes areas of Sapa," meaning outside of the fancy shops and restaurants and into where the locals really live! 

This old man was awesome!  He was just sitting on his stoop, reading a book.  Aaron got an amazing picture of him upclose, but I didn't have time to download it!   You'll just have to imagine! :) 

I would love to know what the writing on the wall says...

All these cute dogs definitely makes me miss my Macy girl!

This little cottage had the most incredible orchard out front.

We spotted this narrow pathway, leading down the hillside and in true Aaron and Jill fashion, decided to explore!

If you look closely, you can see a Vietnames woman, wearing a traditional hat, working hard in her garden!

On our way back to the town center, we stopped in the market, once more, just to make sure we didn't miss anything! :)  That's where I met Zschan, a local Hmong woman.  It was the typical encounter, "You buy something from me?"  "NO THANK YOU!"  Then, I turned to look at her, and saw her beautiful smile and said, "You should be a model!  You're so pretty!"  From that moment on, we were friends!  haha... no, but really.  We walked and chatted the whole way back to the hotel, and she NEVER once tried to sell me something!  In fact, she gave me a bracelt and a headband (which she had hand sewn at her home) as a gift to me!  If you ever go to Sapa, call her (seriously... she gave me her #... 016-6373-3367) ! Her family would love to have you stay with them in a REAL HOMESTAY! 

 At 6:00pm, we caught our van back down the mountain to Lao Cai Train station.  We arrived there at 7:45pm, and checked our tickets to make sure we were in time for the train!  I looked at it, and it said, "Departure: 20:05."  Okay, 9:05pm, perfect!  We have over an hour to grab some dinner and relax in a cafe!  I'm sure by now, you've figured out my miscalculation!  Long story short, we showed up for our train 1 hour late, and it was long gone!  Uggghh... to make things worse, the only other train headed back to Hanoi tonight was completely booked, except for one train car (The Victoria!  Which was $295.00 per person!)  Seriously, who pays that?!   We obviously weren't going to!  Instead, we got stuck on a $12.50 piece of crap sleeper bus!  Did we sleep at all tonight?  Not a wink!  :(

On the bright side, tomorrow we'll be heading to beautiful Haong Bay for our overnight boat cruise!  Hopefully we'll get some shut eye on the top deck... and a tan to go with it! :)

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