Sunday, February 6, 2011
I've spent my last 3 days trekking through the rice fields of Sapa, a frontier town in the Lào Cai province of northern Vietnam, where H'mong, Dao and Tay minority groups live. From Hanoi, we took an 8 hour overnight train, arriving at Lao Cai at about 5:30 am, only to jump right back onto a bus for a windy, uphill ride through rice field terraces until we finally arrived in Sapa at about 6:30 am. Our first few hours were spent talking to local women who wore colorful, plaid scarves wrapped around their heads to represent their specific tribe. Our trek started at about 9:30 and we muled our way through ankle high mud that clenched our feet down every time we attempted our next step. I'll never forget Jayne, a fellow trekker, who laughed her way through the entire thing because every step sounded like a fart. The fog sat heavily in the morning but by noon it finally cleared, uncovering miles of terraces and the charming wooden houses embedded within them. We made it to our home stay by around 3 pm and our "night" of Tiger beer, rice wine and the UK's Top 40 via iphone began. The following day was another trek-- this time less enthusiastic, more painful, but funny nonetheless. Needless to say, our train ride home with 9 of us packed in one train sleeper for a drink confirmed our sadness to leave a good trip and each other.