Family Trip to Vietnam - SAPA
Part 1: Hanoi, Part 2: Ha Long Bay, Part 3: Sapa
Tour guide: ‘Zo’
Tour guide: ‘Zo’
Stay: Train + Hotel Fansipan View
We were sent to the Hanoi train station by taxi, nearly late because of the road blocks of few roads due to the mid-autumn festival celebration (it’s a very big celebration in Vietnam). The Indochina Queen II Hotel assigned a bellboy to escort us from the hotel all the way to train boarding.
Unlike the train ride in Hue, it seems a little more complicated to board the train in Hanoi. We were fortunate to have such a good service from the hotel to send a staff to guide us. The staff helped us to enquire about the tickets, waited with us for the train, and when the gate opened, he led us from the gate all the way to our cabin.
It was indeed fortunate to have him guiding us as we had to cross the railroads ‘literally’ to get to the train!
After we settled down, he bid us farewell and went off. First night was spent on the train.
About 8 hours later, we arrived Lao Cai station at 6am. A van with a guide picked us up and off we went to Sapa town. Along the way, we couldn’t stop awing the magnificent view when the van going uphill, with layers and layers of terrace field presented in front of us. The guide smiled and told us: “wait until you reach the top, it’s even more beautiful!”
We stayed at Fansipan View Hotel in Sapa town. We need to walk a flight of stairs to get to the hotel, and the view oversaw the rooftops of the buildings and houses in the town. We had our breakfast, met our guide of the day, Zo, and prepared for the trekking for the day.
The trekking was very tough even for us the fitness freaks. Fortunate for us, we had a very considerate tour guide. Zo took us on the van from the hotel to the entrance of a village instead of starting the walk from the town (which is about 5km). Along the way we saw few tourists who were on the same Halong Bay cruise.
We stopped at a lookout-point place-y and took loads of pictures! The beauty~~
I asked mom and sis about the feeling of staying here and waking up to this scenery every morning, I got very harsh and negative comments of it. “Don’t want lah! Do you not see how hard their life is here?” -_- they meant it in a good way though…
The ‘official’ trekking started when we arrived at the entrance of the village. Long trekking story cut short, it was tough, even for us the youngsters. We didn’t expect the weather to be that hot, and I was cautious in consuming water as I was worried the water supply was not enough… and proved that I was stupid to worry about such things and got myself a heat stroke the next day.
Nevertheless, the view was awesome!!! At some point, I thought that the view was getting similar and boring, but nope, it still amazed me (even when we passed by the same lookout point on our way back to hotel after the track).
Zo led us to his house in the middle of our track, offered us drinks and shade from the evil sun. Seeing us fit and energetic, he told us about the other tour that includes mountain trek. The mountain view was magnificent enough to awe me, not to mention the excitement when he talked about the mountain trek!
The trekking ended at around 4pm local time and the driver picked us up at the other end of the village.
After freshen up and had some rest, us youngsters went out to explore the town. The Sapa Downtown is a small town which seems to be developed solely for the tourism purpose (my opinion). It is very convenient to walk around the town and as the sun went down, the weather became cooler and more comfortable to be in. I had a very terrible hot stone massage though (it burned my back!!!)
Mid-autumn festival is a very big thing in Vietnam, and, there was a parade thingy 游花车 going on at the town center.
The girl who did my hot stone massage was so distracted/attracted by the chaos of the parade, she looked outside the window several times and talked on the phone WHILE rubbing those very hot stones on my back and literally STOPPED at some point! The worse part, she doesn’t understand English, so it’s pointless even when I voiced out my agony -_-
Anyway, we went to the street to join the crowd and see what’s what. I was ‘dragged’ out from the hotel again by the cute hotel receptionist because she wanted to watch the parade and she wanted company. You can’t say no to a cute girl’s offer, right?
The next morning, I woke up to a headache and dizziness. I had a heat stroke.
We checked out, traveled for 2.5 hours to the Bac Ha market. The market is the largest in the region and only opens on Sunday. It is one-of-a-kind trading center as besides the usual souvenirs, you can find water buffalo, pigs, horses etc on sales on the market. We got in a panic mode too when the waitresses in the restaurant where we had our lunch were excited to see cute Shirlyn and asking if they can hold her. No way dude you gonna sell her in the market!! The paranoia…
There’s another trek planned by Zo but most of us were too weak or tired to walk, so only dad, Chen and Keong went and the rest were resting in the van. It was a very short trek anyway since the villagers were away or something.
Zo was being a very good tour guide to show us around Lao Cai town when we arrived there early. We were brought to the border of Lao Cai, a bridge connecting Vietnam to Hekou 河口, China. Two countries are divided by a river, just like Kelantan and Golok.
Checked in a hotel to freshen up, had our dinner, and the guide saw us off at the train station. Dad gave him a big tips for his good services.