alvin.teo

Sapa Adventures

Posted in Photography, Travel by Alvin on August 5, 2010

This tiny town is located up on the mountain, 9 hours train ride away from Hanoi, and an hour bus/van on the winding road. It was an ideal hideout from the humid weather, exploring ethnic mountainous life, forest and rice field terraces.

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I forgo luxury, clean boutique hotels and opted for homestay instead. We started trekking into the village at about 9 in the morning.

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A group of ethnic minorities followed us along the way

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The scenery is a combination of high green mountains, tiny huts and scattered rice field terraces where the local minorities make a living and stay.

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The locals speak decent amount of English and they learnt from scratch through conversing with foreign travelers. Despite them being rather pushy and demanding when it comes to hard selling their crafts, I find them quite capable.

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From handmade crafts, field work, to their determination and effort to earn a living. Poverty realistically forced every men and women, young and old to slog their lives out in the field, farm or the town of Sapa selling crafts and crops. Education is extravagant, and what we deemed norm, is their luxury.  Albeit harsh living conditions, they are all chirpy, happy and grateful.

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We had lunch at Lao Chai village and continued trekking to the next village, where I stayed for the night.

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My host is of Chinese descendant, hence the calligraphy in mandarin characters but they are unable to speak or comprehend the language.

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The only stove and fire. With such mediocre facilities, they whipped out a table of delicacies for dinner.

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Spring rolls, chicken, pork, sweet potatoes, buffaloes and no doubt, my best meal throughout the trip. The host then dished out a few plastic bottles filled with rice wine and started serving in shots glasses. The brew was strong, that we did not want to have a refill after a few shots. They insisted, reaffirmed us with ‘good wine, no hangover’. I think we had no less than 15 shots, with each going at 35%.

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Most were drunk and left before we could grab a picture with everyone present that day.

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We continue trekking the next day and surprisingly, no hangover. It rained the night before, causing the trek to be wet and muddy. Completed the trek with a broken sandal and soiled clothes.

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Sapa is truly a paradise with surreal scenery. This is truly the first countryside I’ve been with very basic living environment, paddy fields, water buffaloes, lush green forests, crystal clear river and abundant farm animals.

The culture, experience and landscape is what to me, luxury.

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2 Responses

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  1. genjip said, on August 6, 2010 at 9:58 am

    lu ni skrg kat mane?

  2. Alvin said, on August 14, 2010 at 5:09 am

    was – Taiwan, am – BP, somewhere else tmr


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