Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SAPA (Part 2) - The Adventure

Girl's Story in Sapa... SAPA (Part 1) - V in Vietnam Blog

Foggy Morning

5 a.m. - Leaving the train station in the dark and foggy…  One hand held my luggage bag, the other hand tried to reach my hand bag looking for the train ticket.

* Travel tip when travelling by train to Sapa:  please keep the train ticket until you reach Sapa.  As somehow this ticket is your check-out ticket when you leave Sapa train station.  It was a hassle if you cannot show them your ticket.  Plus, English is a barrier.

Sapa Town from far

Minh’s friend picked us up.  While waiting for other passengers to fill the bus, I looked around... Lao Cai town was still at sleep...

When we just arrived @ Sapa Town

I did not see any activity in the street except at the train station.  This station is also the bus stop.  The big tourist buses from Hanoi depart and arrive here.  The station woke up when the trains arrived.  Crowds of passengers and cars/mini buses waiting for them gathered in front of the station.

Our 16-seater minibus was full right away and we left Lao Cai train station.  Soon after that, we started to see the greenery, hill side, paddy rice field…  Good morning Sapa!

There it is... Bamboo Sapa Hotel

One-by-one the passenger arrived at their destinations, Heny and I were the last passengers to be dropped off at our hotel. Reaching closer to Bamboo Sapa Hotel, we were followed and greeted by some local girls; “Hallo… Where are you from?  Do you want to do trekking?  What is your name?”.  Their outfits look gorgeous.  Heny was puzzled and smiled answering their question one by one J 

We were lucky that early June is not the peak of holiday season, our room was ready at 7 a.m.  We could do early check in with no power, as there was power failure.  No big deal! As what we needed was the bed to rest!

We woke up after a couple of hours, took our shower and had breakfast at one of the coffee shops along the road while waiting for Yukie and Minh to come.  I was so happy meeting Yukie for the very first time!  I was lucky to be introduced to Minh too.

Local market @ Sapa Town

We discussed the itinerary for the day.  The first step was to drop by at the local wet market.  This market sells daily necessities where we purchased fresh veggies; tofu, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, morning glory, little bit of chicken meat and rice paper.

Ta Van Village

Even though, trekking is the main adventurous activity in Sapa, I preferred of not doing that. The physical activity was too tiring for me after previous trip in Siem Reap and Hanoi.  Furthermore, I was still sleepy after 8 hour train ride from Hanoi to Sapa.

Therefore, we rent motorbike from Minh’s friend who owns bike rental.  I couldn’t remember how much we paid for the rental.  But I remembered that we spent 30,000VND for the petrol for that day trip.

Can you imagine two Saigoners girls doing motor cross in Sapa? Challenging trekking.  Please bold and underline the road condition: it is rocky, ascending and descending!  Heny did a great job riding the bike.  I preferred to sit behind her -J

At one point, we stopped and listened to Minh's instruction.  He took me at back of his bike and we went up, Heny and Yukie waited down the ascending road.  I watched his bike while he walked back to take Heny's bike.  Heny and Yukie preferred to walk, and Minh drove the second bike.

Then we proceeded with the tour led by Minh.  We saw beautiful mountain scenery, rice crops,… and along the street we could see some minority people.  Sapa is a home for several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao, Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay. 

It took us almost two hours to get to Ta Van village. That was a leisure ride included many stops for photos shoots!  J

Anh Phang’s house in Ta Van Village is a home stay where tourists can stay and experience the real life of Sapa.  He is a friend of Minh.  This guy seems to know everyone…  

Thanks for cooking lunch, Minh! Delicious!

Wood for cooking
Anh Phang welcomed us to his home.  Minh cooked some dishes for our lunch.  Tofu cooked with fresh tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and carrots, Vietnamese spring rolls, everything was so good!   

Plus... Anh Phang served rice wine to make our lunch even more perfect!  

JCảm ơn rất nhiều!!

Thac Bac Waterfall

Second destination is visiting Thac Bac waterfall.  

I was speechless looking at the stairs we had to climb up. Oh no…

Can you see us on the bridge?

Slowly-slowly, we arrived the bridge which is the best spot for photo shoot with the background of the waterfall... We had to queue to take pics there!

Thanks to automatic camera

It rained when we were going to leave the waterfall area. While waiting for the rain to stop, we tried local snacks from street vendor; sticky rice in small bamboo and purple sweet potato that were barbecued. We also tried local tea. Such tea is from some flower which is already sweet without sugar.

Left: purple sweet potato. Right: the street vendor

The rain had not stopped, and we decided to go back anyway… The rain, wind and the thing we did not anticipate was the fog… Luckily rain stopped in the middle of the way, and closer to town, it was dry… We looked silly of being half wet! The wind made us freezing….

Thanks for being a good guide & new friend, Minh!

Foggy Cold Evening & Vietnamese Cuisine

Minh did an excellent job preparing our lunch, so it was only fair that dinner was our turn.

Heny and I waited for Yukie and Minh at the meeting point where we supposed to meet for dinner. It was 7 p .m. but the town was dark and quiet... Plus it was windy and cold!  

While walking to the meeting point, we checked restaurants along the road and decided to dine at the Vietnamese restaurant called Red Camellia. There were not many guests that evening. In fact, we occupied the second table other than a table of four French ladies.

Left: steamed veggie spring rolls. Right: veggie noodle

Each of us chose one dish and we shared the meals.  Steamed vegetable spring rolls as appetizer and the vegetable noodles were good. Good service. It is a small town and again Minh knows almost everyone working in this restaurant.

The Romantic Sapa

Sapa in the evening…. It was foggy even though it was in June.  Weather was a little bit cold.  The fog made the evening so dark.

In such a small town, sometime in June, it was quiet… Such a romantic atmosphere…  Remember Emilia’s song?..  I'm a big big girl in big big world..., it’s not a big big thing if……

Good night Sapa, see you tomorrow beautiful….

Sapa is identical with fog... Bloody damn too romantic!

SAPA (Part 3) - trip continues... J

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