Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sapa. Hello Moto!

To maximize what looked to be another good weather day, we rented a scooter and rode the 12km out of town to Silver Waterfall. Having not much flow this time of year, the waterfall itself was underwhelming, but the occasionally revealed mountain peaks were plenty to ogle at. We continued on another couple of kilometers to the mountain pass at the provincial border, and had the most incredible view of Fansipan (the highest peak in Vietnam) and the neighbouring valley which had a phenomenal cloud glacier slowly drifting through it.

As we passed back through Sapa on our way to the villages on the other side of the mountain, we happened upon a track where some young people were learning to ride motorbikes, so I joined them and took a few laps. So much fun! But not nearly as easy to balance with Mark on the back, yikes!

While driving the steep and narrow roads in the next valley, we had pulled off to the side to let a few giganto buses duke it out for the single lane, and when one appeared to get stuck in the mud, I went forward on foot to investigate, and seeing what appeared to be a stuck bus going nowhere, I motioned for Mark to come forward, just as said bus revved into gear as it was pushed from the mud, and Mark had to back peddle like crazy to get out of the way... Sorry about that, sweets!

In one of the villages we had (yet another) awkward encounter whereby upon disembarking from the moto I was forcefully escorted (ie. "kidnapped") to the house of one of the women who then wanted to ply us with rice wine and sell us stuff. We respectfully declined the wine and goods. But it was awwwwkward...

In the late afternoon we took a minibus from Sapa to Lao Cai, to take the night train back to Hanoi, and were put on an earlier night train, which left at 7:30 pm, and arrived in Hanoi at 4:30 am or so… uuuuuugh. The hotel we had stayed at in Hanoi was very gracious and had told us to come back when we got back from Sapa, even though it was going to be so early, and they let us crash in the dining room, where I tried (unsuccessfully) to make a bed from a few chairs, before we were picked up at 8 am for the 4-hour bus-ride to Halong Bay…

*A note about night trains (and transportation in general): it’s a delicate balance between hydration and needing to use the facilities which may or may not be available because (a) the bus/train is not equipped, or (b) if equipped, may be… unpleasant. And if equipped and sufficiently pleasant, they will most certainly not have toilet paper, may or may not have running water, and highly unlikely to have soap, so, BYOTP.

These mountains were huge! It's frustrating how small they look in the photo, but really, they're huge!


Cloud glacier. Sooooo amazing.

Zippy! I'll take one, please.

Driving around the villages in the other side of the valley.

Awkward "kidnapping"...

One last view to savour...

Night trains. Not made for tall people. Perfect for Lilliputians like me! I'll take the top bunk!
(Not pictured: our annoying cabin mate who had a loud conference call on speaker phone for an hour... argh!)

1 comment: