Thursday, December 27, 2012 Sapa
The train did not look anything like the photos but rather a world-war II vintage of a China train (just my opinion). We got the first class soft sleepers though the translation in Vietnamese of the word soft is a hard one inch mat on a metal frame. Four of us in the room; most of the tourist as always in Nam were Australian and Dutch. In our ‘first-class-sleeper’ the Dutch were friendly and they exchanged with Narda stories and drank beer. The two in our room were a young couple from Canada and they promptly put in earplugs and went to sleep.
I struggled to get a couple hours of sleep as the train made as much noise and shook as much as possible on the track. I am not at all complaining and happily, worse for wear, we dragged out sorry asses out of the train at six am.
Our hotel room was not ready so we went walking for five hours then got into our room and slept two hours and went out walking again. Sapa, I suppose for this time of year – though it could be year-round, was in the clouds or in our terms, foggy. We will probably rent motor scooters tomorrow but the fact that we can see barely a meter in front of us may curb our cycling enthusiasm.
The local tribe people who are constantly selling their goods no matter how many times no comes out; they follow you down the street and keep selling, are quite colourful and a big part of their business is trekking – or we do the trekking and follow them to their village. It is all supposed to be quite the thing to do here but some villages are ten kilometers away and we feel like it has been a trek going a dozen blocks. It is very mountainous. Sapa is like an outlet mall for ‘The North Face’ brand of clothes. Shop after shop sells coats that would sell in the States for hundreds of dollars for $25 – $35 US. Narda bought ‘The Northface’ walking shoes and I got waterproof pants with their ‘gore-tex’ insulation for like 900,000 dongs or $42 for the lot. The pants cost close to a hundred in shops in the West. ‘The North Face’ brand are made in Vietnam so I suppose we are helping the local economy. We did other stuff to help the local economy and fill our suitcases by buying other stuff that we could probably do without.
The above picture shows how foggy it is here and this is with an extreme close-up.
I have heaps of photos in my Facebook and Google+ and they will be at
http://neuage.us/2012/vietnam next week once we are back in China. And videos too as I cannot edit them on this computer.
And that is it for today.