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Motormouth From Ipoh

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The 3rd Day - An Even Harder Path .... in Sapa, Vietnam

From previous post ..... A Walk around Sapa Town, and A B'day Celebration in Sapa, Vietnam


"Whatcha lookin' at, sucka?!!!"

After the 'grandiose' celebration of a birthday at Baguette & Chocolat Cafe (hehe), we retreated to our hibernation grounds (aka Summit Hotel), and catched a good night's rest, fully unaware of the ordeal that will be thrown at us the very next morning.

Looks almost like a brickhouse right?

Waking up early in the morning, (in reality, not so early after all as Vietnam's an hour behind Malaysian time) we had a quick breakfast at the cafe in our hotel (I had beef noodles aka Pho Bo this time around, but pic lying somewhere) then proceeded for the usual head count at the lobby. Once again, the compound of Summit Hotel was crowded with "guides" from the minorities, though I've trouble differentiating them from their backgrounds even after countless lectures.

Our trustworthy and cheery Duong was our guide again (though highly doubtful she can stand ANOTHER round of endless stops for camwhoring, slowpoke trekkers, and bad tippers .... What? =P We decided to tip on the 2nd day ma!)


The town by the hillside .....


Started good. Right on track. No problem-o ..... Flat grounds, tarred roads .....


Amazingly tall bamboo plants everywhere ....


The entourage following closely behind .....




An abandoned hut. Or looked like one.

The first phase of the walk was literally, a walk in the park. Or hills. We took our sweet time snapping pics of the place, of our mugs, and stealing some shots of the tribal people following closely (REAL close) behind. All the way from our hotel to the village, in fact. We went to 3 villages today, first being Ylin Ho, then Lao CHai (not Lao Cai, the town with the train station), and finally stopped at Ta Van village. Sounds easy, but it's an imposing 12 km walk.


Wondering what they're doing? Soon you'll see. :)

After about half an hour of trekking, we stopped for awhile at a rest stop, complete with a counter selling snacks and drinks, and fresh sugar cane being chopped and sold. And awkwardly, our entourage of the friendly tribal people (all 3 of them, most prominent being Ying, who kept repeating her name throughout our walk, and with a smattering command of English, managed to us tell her life story of sorts) were busy working on some crafts (refer pic above) the instance we stopped. Fishy? :)

Don't pray pray .....

As we were still energized (from the good night's sleep, or maybe the strong coffee the night before!), we ventured out full steam ahead, overtaking the other groups with such pride (M'sia kan boleh?!) and gusto.

The cliff overlooking our destination (sooooooo damn far!) and the plateau where everyone stopped

Cold weather being cold weather, and Malaysians being Malaysians, our stomachs started grumbling halfway, and our knees started to give way when faced with downward spiralling cliffs after cliffs, and slopes after slopes. Fortunately, the village people were there all along, assisting as angels would (LOL), lending a hand, shoulder and strength to help us pull through. How sincere? Soon we'll realise.


A view worthy of the effort ....

Can you believe we trekked from behind the hills on the right, all the way down the slope, then jumped on rocks in the water?

The trekking part was not too tiring, probably owing to the cool weather, and helpful guides and the entourage of tribal people. And we were fortunate the weather wasn't wet, nor scorching hot. After about an hour (or two, I wasn't keeping track for sure), we arrived at Lao Chai village for our lunch.

And that's when Ying and gang hopped on us, springing us a surprise. Yay!!! Or maybe not. In fact Duong had warned before we started our journey, that they're gonna sell us something (handicrafts etc) once arriving at their village. Given the fact that they accompanied us throughout our excursion, we put on our most sincere-st smiles and donated some Dongs/bought something from them, as a gesture of appreciation. But at your own discreet, ok? You can bargain, but your RM10 may mean the WORLD to them, so skimp on that wagyu, and gain some good karma in return. =P

Where lunch was served ...... The plastic tables and chairs are miniature sizes ...


Felt like eating in a 'kampung' environment, with simple dishes to fuel the stomach

The guides helped out in the kitchen once arriving, while we ordered our drinks (take note that the meal's covered, except for the drinks). The meal was surprisingly satisfying, probably hunger got the better of us?



You CANT escape their wrath .....

After lunch, we still have to trek a short distance to Ta Van Village, our last destination of the day. Ta Van's people resemble the Chinese community, and of higher status compared to Lao Chai's residents. Least they do NOT follow you around, chanting the classique, evergreen lines, "BUY FOR ME! BUY FOR ME!" =P


Still climbing ah?!!! *_* But after the meal, we were boosted with extra strength ...


Of pretty, curious children, to puppy and duck .....


Not forgetting, the ROYAL RUMBLE !!!!!

Pardon the rather .... obscene photo of pigs (it's black and white!) fighting. In fact they were not, as they were being herded (beaten more like it!) by a man. Kinda sad hearing them wailing and erm, 'oink'ing about. No wonder the children were looking with such interests.


Paddy Plantations .... kinda like staircase, right?


Swans swimming about .....

Ta Van Village ..... Of richer culture/status?


Ta Van Homestay - If you choose the homestay option instead of hotel, you'll be put up here, instead of Summit Hotel. The choice ... is all YOURS. :)


A giant swing. Happy times .....


A departing shot of the village, mountains, and the interesting people of the rural areas ....

We ended our trek after about 5 or 6 hours. Or somewhere around that. The experience opened our eyes in the sense that :

1) Though somewhat annoying, the minorities are indeed rather accomodating, and not overly pushy. The same can't be said about our very own 'Budak Jaga Kereta' ....


2) Buy For Me, What's You Name, and Where You From became our opening lines for the rest of the journey. There's something deeply gratifying about using un-English-like English. Was I clear enough? =)


3) Snapping photographs has its pros and cons. You tend to get left behind, a LOT. Ying was kind enough to stop in her tracks, wait for me, and gingerly moved to the backrank while maintaining her speed. Amazing agility I tell ya!


4) The scenery around the hills/mountains/fields is NOT exactly lush greeneries, as the foggy condition plus the lack of colourful flowers/plants rendered the surroundings with a lacklustre blur. Duong explained that as the tribes are rather poor, they do not have the technologies or expertise in planting fruits/flowers (ie: Cameron Highlands).


Bala's Ice Cream - Butter flavoured, with raisins?!!!

As we waited for our transport back to the hotel (yup, walking's way out of the plan by then), we bought a cup of Bala's Ice Cream each. Possibly the WORST ice-cream we've ever tasted, the bland, frozen ice-cream (dunno can consider cream or not) tasted like ... nothing you've ever tasted before. Avoid this, if you ever see one. You're better off chewing on grass.


Caught in the Act !!!! IC please?!!! LOL.

We proceeded back to our hotel, refreshed ourselves (as we've already checked out, we bathed in the communal bathrooms near the restaurant), and had our dinner. The ride back to Lao Cai was horrendous, as the curves and swerves made me wanted to puke. The sky was dark before evening.

Once arriving at Lao Cai, we had to wait for about an hour before our train arrived. Hence the roadside squat, with our mouths closed. Why? We've never witnessed so much dust and debris in our lives!!!! The dust was practically covering the town with a fog-like effect! And cars were covered in dust like snow. Made us rather proud of the "CLEAN" environment in M'sia. Heh.

Goodbye Sapa ..... May you flourish in the future .....


to be continued ......

20 comments:

cariso said...

Truly enjoy reading it! I am chasing 'every episode'. :)

ahlock said...

Vietnam does look an interesting place to visit.

From black background, you switched it to dark chocolate. Then if I'm not wrong, you switched it back to black, then now, back to dark chocolate. Hope you're not having a color crisis.

Lastly...I've given you an award. Please click: http://heartglo.blogspot.com/2009/03/lets-be-friends-award.html

SimpleGirl said...

sorry to say that...the food doesn't look appetizing ..?!!

thenomadGourmand said...

amazing! its like readin an epic of some sort! like Cariso, i'm chasing each episode aka chinese HBO drama! lol.

iamthewitch said...

Wahh that's a tremendous amount of WALKING! Did you manage to lose weight after the trip? :PP

Selba said...

Again... beautiful pictures!!! Really enjoy looking at it :)

550ml jar of faith said...

Too gorgeous for words! Makes up for the lacklustre food and the physical toil of the journey! I hope the grub gets better after this day though! :-P

J2Kfm said...

cariso : every episode? :) like Moonlight Resonance eh? miss that drama, watched in Msia n HK some more.

ahlock : 1st up, thanks for the award!!! its dark chocolate now? dang ... no wonder looks diff. i simply pick one dark colour, as initially changed to white for a few mins. tak boleh lah ... too unlike Motormouth From Ipoh.

Simple Girl : erm, given that the meals in Sapa were all paid for, we were rather satisfied at the meals provided.

thenomadGourmand : oooh..thank u thank u ... wonder how long more this will take .... i'll probably take a breather and back to food blogging business b4 ppl get sick of Hanoi!

iamthewitch : nothing changed. sadly, still the same old gigantic me.

Selba : thanks Selba!

550 ml jar of faith : hahaha, geez i realise my posts had been concentrating on the travelling part more than the food. will improve in coming posts .... no worries.

mimid3vils said...

Oh... the black pig really huge!!

email2me said...

Fui yoh! The pig if go under the fire sure look even more hensem! XD

mboy said...

Certain pictures are changed into black&white or dark chocolate in order to protect the identity of those in the pics, especially the train cabin shot... =)...Am i right? Hehe

J2Kfm said...

mimid3vils & email2me : LOL. both of you must have had the same thing in mind. ROASTED GIANT pig never sounded so good eh? :)

mboy : hahaha, cant be any right-er .... to protect the innocence ma.

Nic (KHKL) said...

gotta lurve that pic above "You CANT escape their wrath ....." really nice shot!

am still thinking what those grass handicrafts surrounding the cans and shaped into heart shapes are for la...

J2Kfm said...

Nic : hahaha ... they're in fact, the masterpiece courtesy of the village people following us around, periodically springing us a surprise, and gave them to us. of course, we were advised by our guide to pay a small amount to them, rather than taking it for free, else when reaching the village, you'll be 'forced' to buy something from them.

Lingzie said...

hey hope your sore throats eased up and you're feeling better.
i cant believe you guys did so much walking!!!!!!! i think if we walked so much in malaysia sure pengsan one with the heat. :P

but i guess its a well worth experience! i love that photo of the swing!!

J2Kfm said...

Lingzie : it's cooling, hence no need to sweat at all. though tiring at times, they let you walk at own pace. so no problem. i was merely wearing my shorts and t shirt, with sneakers.

CUMI & CIKI said...

amazing shots! the abandoned hut was really cool.. also the IC please! haha.. nice 'models' :)

J2Kfm said...

CUmi & Ciki : gotta darken the picture, to protect the innocence (before proven guilty?)

fatboybakes said...

wow, where IS this place!! makes me almost wanna revisit vietnam pronto... so rustic!

J2Kfm said...

fatboybakes : Sapa in Northern Vietnam. more or less like Cameron, but with cool tribal people.