Astonishing Rice Fields
Just arrived to Hanoi from Halong Bay, and it was time to depart again for Sapa. Our train departed at 8 pm, so we had a couple hours to chill out around the hotel and get some food. We don't know how but we got upgraded and ended in a 4 berth wagon, which was better for us. Our train mates for the night were a couple of Vietnamese students who were spending the day in Sapa and getting back the following night with another train.
The train didn't go directly to Sapa but to Lao Cai, the biggest city in the province. So once the train stopped there, we arranged transport with a minibus and 60 minutes later we arrived...it was rainy and foggy so you couldn't see a thing and the driver just dropped all of the passengers at a hotel that was not ours, so we had to make our way under the rain to our hostel, the Green Valley Hostel. The place was nice and our room had a big terrace facing the mountains. Since we arrived so soon in the morning, we decided to take a good nap in order to have energy and strength to trek around the villages. Around noon we went to one of these typicals mountains cafe to have our rich brunch. Since it was already a bit late to do a long day trekking, we decided to walk to the nearest village named Cat-Cat. The views and landscapes of Sapa captivated us since the beginning. The rice fields are basically on the hills and they create a sort of stair-case carpet that it is absolutely stunning! After about 3 Km walking we finally arrived to the village where we could sit down and admire a very neat waterfall and also see village people's art crafts. Once we got back to our hostel, it was already dinner time so we went to the major street to find a place to eat. Since we couldn't remember the last time we had a decent meal, we decided to go for it and ordered 2 glass of wine accompained by a delicious Vietnamese dinner... we really had a blast!
The next morning we got up soon to start a proper full day trekking and visit the numerous villages along the way. At first we were offered to do an organized tour but this time we chose to do it on our own. We started by going down following the major street and then took a path that was heading towards the river. The walk down was great and we found absolutely interesting to see the small villages and how people were living. Again the nature and the colors of the rice fields around us made this place a unique one to see. After a few hours walking, we finally reached the river and put our feet in the cold water to refresh a bit after the long walk... at least this is what we thought because the "worst" was yet to come. As a matter of fact after taking some pictures, we decided to try to go back following another path which was going along the river... oh well, this turned out to be quite adventurous. First we went down to a very steep hill which I still don't know how we managed to make it without breaking one of our limbs; then thinking it was a pieace of cake we got lost among the rice fields without knowing which way was leading to Sapa. We kept walking with the hope to find someone to ask and eventually a little Vietnamese kid popped out from nowhere and asked us some money to guide us to Sapa. We immediately refused and try to find our own way to the major street. The rice fields were everywhere and it was quite difficult to find a path to walk. We fell several times in the mud or simply slipped directly into the rice fields. The Vietnames kid kept following us and gave us some hints to find the way to Sapa... probably it was a sort of game for him and resulted to be funny since we had know idea about where to go. We decided to trust him and follow the way he was showing us. In the meantime the hours were passing by and we were walking non-stop without even seeing a concrete road. Finally the kid showed us the way to his village where part of his family told us how to get to the main road. Well, believe it or not, after more or less 15 Km we made it to the main road where we immediately drank some water and rest a little before walking other 3 km to our hotel. We definitely had a very interesting trekking and definitely more adventurous than the one an organized tour can offered. Sapa was memorable!