The Sapaning

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Now that I’ve finished the LSAT and my job teaching English in Quinhon, I’m doing some touring around North Vietnam….with my mom!  It’s a welcome change to be experiencing different parts of this country as a tourist, and with an excellent traveling companion, no less!

Since both my mom and I have been really busy/distracted in the weeks preceding this trip, we made barely any plans. One place we did want to visit was Sapa, a small and beautiful mountain town near the border of China.

We booked the bus tickets for our trip from our hotel receptionist, a cheerful guy who referred to himself as La La.  The bus to Sapa was pretty nice. It had seats that you could lie flat, big windows, and a little bathroom in the back.  It was nonstop and quiet.

When we got to Sapa, it was pouring down rain.  Torrential downpour status. We decided to rent a luxury hotel room, so at least we could enjoy creature comforts if it rained the entire duration of our stay (2 nights, 3 days).  We found a hotel called Sapa Panorama on booking.com and reserved one room for two nights at the price of $300.

When we got to the hotel, the receptionists were totally confused, and talked to each other for a long time, and finally showed us to a small, marginally smelly room with a meager mountain view.  My mom and I were suspicious. We looked online and saw the value of the room was actually $50 USD. So, we asked the receptionists what happened and they said they were almost fully booked, and jacked the prices way up on booking.com in hopes that no one else would make reservations. Jeez, guys.  After some finagling we ended up getting some of our money back.

 

View from our hotel room on a misty afternoon
View from our hotel room on a misty afternoon

 

By the time that all got sorted out, it was around 4PM and still raining hard. My mom and I walked around the town and then had a delicious dinner at this restaurant called The Hilltop Station. So good. If you go to Sapa, go there. Amazing food, and imported beer!!!

The Hilltop Station.
The Hilltop Station.

 

The next day, we went to Cat Cat village, which was a total tourist trap. Going there felt kind of wrong. You basically pay to get into the village to watch impoverished people try to sell you their handmade products. Nonetheless, the countryside was absolutely beautiful.

Cat Cat Village
Cat Cat Village

 

So many shops. With very vocal salespeople.
So many shops. With very vocal salespeople.

 

 

Stuff for sale.
Stuff for sale.

 

hmong stuff

 

Water buffalo. As adorable as they are tasty ;)
Water buffalo. As adorable as they are tasty ;)

 

Dog. As adorable as it is tasty? T_T
Dog. As adorable as it is tasty? T_T

 

Our last day there had much better weather.  I convinced my mom to rent a motorbike with me, and we tooled around the outskirts of the city looking at the gorgeous mountains.  It was great to leave behind the touristy strip and take in the natural beauty.

IMG_7381

 

Then we went to a market with lots of scary meat lying around.

 

Who'ssss ready for Halloween??
Who’ssss ready for Halloween??

 

Bye-do Fido.
Bye-do Fido.

 

A horse.

 

Then it was time to go. Mass chaos happened when we tried to leave. La La hadn’t been too specific about where we were supposed to board the bus back to Hanoi.  He told us to wait on a specific street corner at 3PM for a driver. At 3:20PM, a taxi with two other confused people finally picked us up and took us to a parking lot full of buses. We got on one that was going to Hanoi. Little did we know…

…that the bus wasn’t direct! It made a million stops along the way! And was lit with florescent lights! And blasted Vietnamese pop the entire time! And was overbooked! It was pretty amusing to see my mom’s reaction to that experience.

So, what did I think of Sapa overall? Well, its beauty is unforgettable, and the restaurants are great.  Yet, the downtown area is too touristy, and you’ll definitely get local women following you around saying things like “Shopping? You buy from me? Where you from?” So, I’d say, if you want to go to Sapa, maybe make some time to rent a motorbike get out of the main part of town. That way, you can experience the beauty of the area without all the hassle.

Oh, and be prepared for cold, rainy weather!!

 

 


eatron
Offline
Joined: 11/02/2010
Re: The Sapaning

You are done with Korea - can you remove your blog from this site ? The dog pictures, come on - really ?

but yeah I guess I should just stop reading your post. 

 

 

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