Thomas Montier

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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.

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