The guide helped us with our suitcases to Hanoi Railway Station. As the night train to Lao Caihi flew to the pier, we picked up our suitcases and searched the sleeping car in our cabin, which had room for four sleepers. We shared a cabin with two French women. The train was clean and fine. The beds in our cabin were fitted with clean sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers. Next to each bed was a night light and a place to lower the camera and cell phone. Water, a toothbrush, and snacks were found in the small basket for free. We were both tired, so we quickly went to the night tree.
When we arrived at Lao Cai station we met our guide and driver who took us to our hotel in Sapa. In Sapa the air was foggy and the temperature was only 8 degrees. Fortunately, the first trip was on the program only in the afternoon, so it seemed that the weather would clear in time. So we had time to have breakfast, take a bath and unpack our suitcases.
After a break, we went for a walk in the town and walked along the main street, along which there were enough shops, cafes and restaurants. At the other end of the road is the central square, which is also home to the city’s Catholic Church. The square serves as a gathering place for locals and sometimes also as a marketplace where mountain people sell their crafts. On clear days, you can see Fansipan, the highest mountain in Vietnam, far away.
A little further along the road we found a good restaurant where we enjoyed a tasty lunch. After lunch we returned to the hotel where the guide and driver were already waiting for us. The trip headed to the outskirts of the city where we could enjoy the beautiful scenery of Sapa and get to know the local mountain tribes.
It wasn’t long before we got out of the car until two Hmong women wearing traditional outfits and modern winter jackets greeted us by asking “How are you?” and “What’s your name?”. The women walked with us and told us in English, breaking down their names and ages as well as their husbands and children. The companions didn’t bother us, because when we travel, it’s especially great for us to meet local people and hear about their lives and culture.
When the language skills weren’t quite enough for the conversation, the guide helped with interpretation. The women told us what it was like to grow up and live in Sapa, which made a big impression on us. When, after a couple of hours of talking, our paths parted, we both had a smile on our lips. We couldn’t help but admire these two beautiful and strong women. Although they lived in very rudimentary conditions, they were still full of joy and contagious laughter.
It’s winter in Sapa in January, so we couldn’t see the green rice fields. Nevertheless, everywhere was incredibly beautiful. The rice terraces are greenish brown in January. When the fog relaxes and the sun peeks behind the clouds, one can well imagine how beautiful it is here when spring and autumn come. At Ms. Moon’s home, her feet sitting in a lovely herbal bath and looking over the valleys and rice fields can’t help but be a little jealous of the views enjoyed by the Hmong.