Sapa – The North of Vietnam

Early in the morning on February 15 we took the direct bus up to the north of Vietnam to Sapa. The bus was really comfortable and provided free wifi on board. They built a new highway up there one year ago and for this it became really easy to go up here.

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When we arrived at noon it was really cold and raining a little bit. We drank some hot wine what is in fact almost like Glühwein we know from Christmas season but now it was almost equally cold and for this a good choice. We checked in to a nice room in the Sapa Panorama Hotel but there was so much fog we couldn’t even see the city nor the Fansipan Mountain to which we would have a great view.

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We got some food and did a short tour to a local village, cat cat village, just half an hour from the city of Sapa. We visited the local houses and some traditional dancing performance from people living there. They weren’t really motivated what I can understand if you have to do this at least once a day! But there was a beautiful waterfall on the lower end of the village. After the show we walked a little and got a bus picking us up and dropped us I. The hotel again. We had dinner and went to sleep early to be prepared for the big two days trekking through the rice terraces with an overnight stay at a local Homestay in one of the villages.

When we started our tour the next morning we hardly saw our hands in front of the face because of the heavy fog and it was freezing cold that we couldn’t imagine an 8 – 10 hours trekking tour. We were prepared to get sun and warm weather and had everything prepared for 25+ degrees Celsius but it was 20 degrees less. Luckily we bought a nice jacket for Ari the days before in Hanoi. So we started walking.

The first two hours everything was covered in white and we couldn’t enjoy the beautiful landscape we were supposed to see. As we went further down the hill the view went better and we enjoyed a great time walking along the rice fields and crossed many villages with many local people. A lot of them were wearing traditional clothes in many colors. We had some food in the middle of our tour in a local restaurant and our guide Tuan had some smoke from the pipe.

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And then, shortly before arriving our Homestay we attended a local festival to celebrating the Vietnamese new year! But it was still freezing cold. But Tuan promised some happy water to get warm during the night.

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When we arrived at the Homestay Tuan lighted up a fire inside the house and we had some beer. It turned out that we had really nice people in our group. During the day we didn’t talk to them too much but in the evening we had a lot of time to do so! One of the girls were studying the Chinese language (I can’t remember which one) and the mother was working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for an interesting research project. And then they served the dinner!

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And the long desired happy water! It’s some unspecified alcohol made of rice but good for the cold weather. It’s stored in a big maybe 20 liters plastic canister but tastes good. Probably it makes blind after a while but this didn’t happen so far. After 15-20 shots of happy water we went to bad and slept like babies.

The next day we started in the morning after having breakfast. The weather didn’t change but the tour was nice. We walked through bamboo forests (I love bamboo!) and small villages until we arrived a restaurant 4-5 hours later where we had a soup with rice noodles, some happy water and where we were picked up by the bus to return to Sapa. Good that the driver knew the way because it was impossible to see the road because of the heavy fog this day!

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We had an amazing time but we have to return to Sapa once in August/September when it’s summer time up here and the rice terraces glow in golden colors!


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