Thomas MontierElectric Design
Day one of trekking in Sapa. After breakfast, we make our way downstairs to the lobby, ready to leave. Outside, the ladies of the Black H’Mong are already waiting for us. We were warned about this, so it’s not too much of a shock. The women will follow us throughout our trek, offering assistance, making conversation, and then when we reach the end, several hours later, they will try to sell us everything they’ve got. Still, I wonder how exactly they know that we’re scheduled for a trek. I guess somebody involved in our home stay gives them the inside track.
I look around at all the others, kitted out in their gear. I feel a little unprepared. I have a waterproof jacket, sure, but one of the most important details is missing. Looking down at my white Lonsdale running shoes (17.99 from Debenhams), I wonder if it might have been wise to invest in proper walking boots. Fuck it. At worst my feet will get wet, and I will get a dangerous fungal disease. I will receive good medical treatment well, H’Mong before it has the time to spread upwards, to regions of more importance.
We finally made it to Sapa in the northwestern Tonkinese Alps of Vietnam after 5 nights in bustling Hanoi. The Lonely Planet Vietnam suggests not booking any tours here and just exploring it on your own. We followed this advice and highly recommend if you want to come to Sapa that you do the same. We think you will have a better time on your own and you can always arrange tours and treks when you get there if you are drawn to that. If you can spend more than a few days in Sapa area we promise you won’t regret it… it is SO BEAUTIFUL!!! The night train from Hanoi was a rollicking, rolling ride but comfortable enough. We arrived in Lao Cai around 6:30 I think on a rainy foggy day which later seemed rather gloomy to us. Lao Cai is right on the Chinese border and Sapa only a 1 hour bus ride away into the mountains at 1800 m. Arriving as we did on sunday we were told at the train station that there were no buses. Guys were trying to sell us on taking an expensive taxi ride. We figured there had to be some kind of bus… finally they talked to us about these small shuttle buses going up the hill but they were still giving us ridiculously high prices. We ended up paying 50,000 dong each for a seat after much negotiation. We wondered if even that was too much.