© 2011 fholzgrefe

Sapa (Vietnam Trip Part 3)

The sleeper train was actually really nice, I felt like I was going to Hogwart’s.  That night I had a tough time going to sleep, so tossed and turned for a bit.  We played cards for a few hours before retiring.  It was a nice journey, though.  We arrived in Sapa at 5:30AM, and then took a bus to the actual village, so got to Sapa at 6:30AM.  We at ea delicious breakfast at a touristy restaurant – I got pumpkin soup, hot Vietnamese coffee (so strong!), and an omelet.  We then rented MOTORBIKES for the day (USD5 plus gas).  That was absolutely fantastic!  It was Ari’s first time driving anything, so the first hour was hilarious.

We drove first north to Thac Bac waterfalls (8km) up into the mountains – it was so cold (and I didn’t bring pants, but I did have a cardigan).  We then continued on to Tram Ton Pass, basically a beautiful view of the mountain and valley (7km further).  We headed back to Sapa, then headed SE to Cau May (17km) and to a little village to have Pho for lunch – best Pho we had by far.

The roadways were SO scary to drive on – trucks, vans, and mopeds drive haphazardly on any side of the potholed road.  Ari was scaring me because she would go around a bend on the opposite side of the road – cars fly around the curves.  Luckily she didn’t get hurt, but Michael wiped out going around a muddy bend – lucky he was wearing jeans.  Ari semi-wiped out in mud, but didn’t actually fall.  The views were absolutely spectacular, I loved it!

We drove for about 8 hours, 3 out of the four motorbikes breaking down, but it was awesome – when Michael’s broke down, no one stopped to help, so Ari rode on the back of mine (we then got it started later).  When Noah’s broke down, an awesome man stopped and was helping us (water in the exhaust), but the owner of the bike just so happened to be riding by and fixed it.  When my bike broke down, about 6 guys came to help me – so hilarious.  The owner happened to be passing by again and fixed it.  We then drove towards Lao Cai until our gas was running low, taking in the gorgeous sights.  About 100km of driving in all, I think.

After dinner, we walked around Sapa for a bit to shop.  I bought a bracelet for D10,000, about US$.47.  We took a bus to Lao Cai to catch our train back to Hanoi.  This ride I was on the bottom bunk and slept very well – the top two complained of a bad night’s sleep the next day.  We arrived in Hanoi at 4:30AM and walked to the Hanoi Backpacker’s Hostel for breakfast – probably not the smartest idea to walk around at that time of the morning, but nothing happened.  We decided to go to the lake Chien Thank that had a B52 part in it – after walking forever, we found out there was no part in the lake (maybe it sunk?).  We took a cab back to the Hanoi Backpacker’s Hostel (US5) and took a shower (for free!), then kinda hung out there.  We ran into Gareth again who booked a flight to Hong Kong – and it just so happened to be our flight!

We met up with a few of Noah’s friends at an architecturally BEAUTIFUL dive.  We ordered a coffee while Noah caught up with his friends, and then we caught a taxi to go to the airport.  The cab driver was going a bit too slow, so we asked him to go a bit faster and he ZOOMED.  It was so hilarious, zig-zagging in and out of traffic, all of us (including the driver) cracking up laughing.

We met Gareth at the airport and he just so happened to be sitting in the same row as us!  So we chatted on the way home, had a delicious meal, and then landed in 3 hours.  We changed into our LKF clothes at the airport, then met Billy and Yesim in Central.  We had such a fantastic night, a great way to end our awesome vacation!!

For 6 days, 5 nights total spent: USD$693 (including the $367 flight)