Sa Pa was our last stop in Vietnam and most physically anticipated due to our upcoming trekking adventure. Sa Pa is a town in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains of northwestern Vietnam, a common place for tourists to come and explore the beautiful terraced rice fields.
Our journey began quite early as we arrived by bus at 6:30am to our hotel in the city centre. We then packed what we needed for the next two days and started our trek at 9am. We met our guide and two other ladies who came along with us, one of which had a 3 month old baby on her back the entire way and the other carrying a basket knapsack full of random goods.
Travelling to Sa Pa was like rediscovering the purpose of travel, meeting new people, witnessing beautiful landscapes and experiencing new things. Our hike was off to a great start with only five minutes in, the scenery was just completely picture perfect. Walking through the most lush greenery and seeing the water buffalo almost every ten minutes really had us smiling, even though we were completely drenched in sweat.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking up, down, left or right, the views are incredible. While walking, our local tour guide, who spoke pretty decent English, had made small little gifts for us, taking long blades of grass, bending,twisting and folding them into the shape of a horse or a flower, it was something to remember them by and we couldn’t thank them enough.
While hiking through the valley and down the countless rice fields we passed through many interesting local villages. We were able to see how the Sapa Minorities live, eat and play. While most of the time there would be the older family member inside, the young children would be outside and trying to sell little bracelets. Something we thought was very cute was how mixed up the kids got with their idea of a “discount”. It would go something like this, “hi mam, buy a bracelet. 1 for 2 or 2 for 1”. With those innocent faces we couldn’t say no and decided to get a few bracelets, making both the little girl and ourselves happy.
Throughout our trek we visited villages including Ta Van, where our home stay was. We slept in an empty two story barn that was only furnished with a small cooking area, a bathroom and an outdoor eating area. The family that hosted us couldn’t have been more welcoming and despite the language barrier, made us feel right at home. This proved to be another time of when a smile goes a long way in communicating how happy and thankful you are. The meals they prepared for us were delicious and hearty and the “happy juice” they gave us after the meal was quick to warm our bellies. We spent the night getting to know the four other people on the trek with us and playing cards. The next day we set off for the last leg of our journey and once again found ourselves in awe at the scenery. Six more kilometres and we were at the spot where the bus would pick us up and take us back to Sa Pa.