Having said goodbye to our bikes in Hanoi, it was time to catch an overnight train to Sapa. After five weeks sitting on bike, we treated ourselves to a little bit of luxury and had booked a private VIP cabin. Feeling like we were on our way to Hogwarts, we got comfortable and had a surprisingly good sleep.
We arrived to grey clouds and drizzle and the misty bus ride through the mountains was rather hairy! After a shower and breakfast, we met our guide and set off! Once we left the road, we soon found ourselves slipping and scrambling through the muddy rice paddies.
After lunch our guide asked us if we wanted to go the easy route or the difficult route for the afternoon. Never ones to shy away from adventure, we opted for the harder path – after all we were there to walk and wanted tp see and do as much as possible.
It turned out however, the ‘more difficult’ didn’t mean longer or steeper, it just meant more mud. So. Much. Mud. One of us fell in a river and the other got stuck in a muddy swamp and the slipping took it’s toll. Struggling our way through countless rice fields was not fun any more and the weather didn’t help our moods.
Our spirits were far from high when we arrived at our home for the night but the beautiful smile and hot tea our host gave us quickly cheered us up. We rinsed off our muddy socks and shoes whilst the kids,dogs and ducks played in the yard. Feeling brighter, we walked down into the village to have an explore. It’s a very common route for short treks so there were many guest houses and shops aimed at tourists as well as local shops and market stalls. We bought some fruit to snack on and couldn’t resist a gorgeous little dress for Matt’s baby cousin!
Back at the homestay, we helped out with making the spring rolls. We were terrible at wrapping them and our guide had to redo several but it was fun and a lovely atmosphere all being in the kitchen together by the warm fire.
Dinner was delicious! There was much and despite being very ugly, the spring rolls were by far the best I’ve tried! We all had a shot of ‘magic water’ to celebrate the dinner which was great but one was definitely enough! With very little electricity, it got dark very early and we took ourselves off the the bed in the corner of the big room we were all sharing and settled down for the best sleep’s had in five weeks!
Breakfast was just as enormous and delicious as dinner – some of the best food we had in Vietnam was definitely at homestays. They had offered to make us pancakes but we were happy to share in their regular breakfast so we had a feast of rice, potatoes, vegetables,meat and egg.
We just had half a days walking left and, learning from our mistake the previous day, we opted for the less muddy route. By lunchtime the sun had come out and it was getting warm. so when we stopped at a waterfall, we stripped off and cooled down in the water whilst everyone else was taking selfies!
To be honest we weren’t particularly taken by the trek in Sapa. I thought it would be a bit more remote and isolated but we were mainly walking through and between villages. Once the skies cleared up the next day, we could see that better weather would have definitely improved the views! Not particularly spectacular but with blue skies it was very pretty. For us, it was staying with the local family that really made the experience special for us. it was wonderful to be welcomed into someones home, to cook, eat and sleep with them. It’s definitely a memory that will stay with me.