Look It's Sapa...

After my half day city tour in Hanoi, I got back to the hotel, showered and packed for Sapa.  I took an overnight train from Hanoi to Lo Cai.  The train left on March 25th at about 9:00p.m.  I got to the train station, found my car and bunk for the night.  It was a 4 berth cabin an no one was there.  I thought I got lucky and got it to myself.  Yes!  Well, I got off the train to buy a couple beers from and old lady, for the ride.  Got back to the cabin, and there were three more people there.  It was a bit awkward at first.  I didn't know what to say as they were sitting on my bunk.  Turns out they were a family from Spain.  The Dad spoke just a very little bit of English and my Spanish skills aren't the best.  They were super awesome though. The Mom, I'm pretty sure her name was Vicki, kept asking me questions.  I would nod, and she would laugh and laugh.  I had NO idea what she was saying.  I did manage to tell them I had been to Spain and went to Valencia.  That is where they were from!!  Oh, the excitement when they heard this.  Well, most of the night was Vicki asking me questions and the Dad (maybe his name was Nunzio) sort of translating.  Mostly I would say "No entiendo" which means I don't understand.  Oh and Vicki would laugh.  A good hour of the conversation was them talking to me and then we would yell EHHHHHH!!!  and cheer our beers.  I really liked them.  The train was fine, but not the best for sleeping.  Anyway, made it to Lo Cai and found my driver who took me to Sapa.  About an hour from the train station.  Got to Sapa, and let me tell you it was freezing there, the whole time!  It is on top of a mountain and borders China.  It was about 40 degrees there at the warmest I think.  I was not prepared for this.  I only brought one pair of pants and a fleece pullover.  It worked though.  Got dropped at a really crappy hotel and waited for my guide.  They paired me up with a group of French people who didn't speak English, and I don't speak French.  So it was a very quiet time for me.  Met our guide who immediately started our trek.  It was raining when I arrived, but stopped by the time the trek started.  So, we were off.  The guide was not that good.  He talked on his cell phone most of the time and didn't point out anything to us.  And he had us moving at breakneck speeds.  The first day we hiked down the mountain about 2 miles.  Down really steep muddy trails.  The guide just kept us moving.  We were visiting a village near the bottom, and some waterfalls.  The local women from the village walked with us.  They were great. Really friendly and knew English so well.  Got to their village, then it hit me why they were with us.  Not to keep us company, but as soon as we hit the village it started.  "You buy from me?"  Over and over and over and over...They were selling handicrafts.  They were cool, but really do I need a pillowcase?  I didn't buy anything but the one lady in our group was swarmed.  I'm not sure how much she bought.  Anyway saw the village I guess and then went to the waterfall.  That was cool.  Then a hike back up into Sapa.  The whole thing was about 4 miles and took us 3 hours.  Got back to town and had a free afternoon.  I was exhausted from the train trip so I walked around town for a while and then went back to my hotel for a hot shower and a nap.

The next morning the guide showed up at my hotel to pick me up an hour and a half late.  It seemed to be whatever with him.  The second day we hiked about 8.5 miles.  Went down another steep path, to the first village.  Same thing.  "You buy from me?"  Then on to another village.  Then another.  We were supposed to go to 5 villages this day, but I'm not sure how many we really visited since the guide told us nothing.  But we did it at breakneck speed again.  This time there were lots of other tourists on the same trek so it slowed us down a little and he let us take two breaks and a lunch break.  Then once in the bottom of the valley there was a car waiting to take us back to Sapa.  Then grabbed my stuff from my hotel and an hour or so in town and then back to the train station.  Overnight train from Lo Cai to Hanoi.  My train left at 8:15p.m. and arrived in Hanoi at 5:00a.m this morning, the 28th.  Then a quick trip back to my hotel in Hanoi to get my luggage, a shower and some breakfast and then off to the airport for my flight to Da Nang.  I am now in Hoi An.  I arrived this afternoon at a great hotel on a river.  It is a really swank place.  Today I was exhausted so I spent the day having a long lunch and then a few hours at the pool relaxing.  It was what I needed.  Tomorrow I'm hopefully going on a motorcycle adventure of Hoi An!  I'm the only one signed up right now, so if they don't get another person, we don't go.  That would be a bummer.  Post more later... Oh and by the way, I loved Sapa!  It was so beautiful there.  It was pretty amazing despite a bad guide.  I shouldn't complain.  I got to see what I came there to see and it was amazing.