|Roxy trying not to infect any other passengers|
|The normal single sleeping seat|
|Joy cosy and happy - before her traumatising rice-wine man experience|
|Never thought we'd see the beautiful light of day again (sunrise along the pass from Loa Cai to Sa Pa)|
Saturday - 24/05
Exploring the town
|Roxy posing at the fountain in the centre of town|
|The Cathedral all lit up (as most of this quaint little town seemed to be)|
|A singing/ rapping / 'dancing' performance by the obvious two young up and coming stars of the town (they had two performance slots and even did an encore to close the show).|
As we were the token Westerners, we unfortunately attracted some unwanted attention once again from a rice-wine soaked local- who thought he was being subtle and creeping next to us and getting a child to take a 'sneaky' photo of us while he posed in the background. We took refuge with a Vietnamese family, who we quickly adopted as our own and the fiesty granny warded-off our obsessive paparazzi.
|'Grandpa'was constantly trying to get his camera-shy grandson to pose with us girls- quite entertaining as he was so embarrassed and kept trying to run away.|
A little 12 year old boy also politely approached us and struck up a conversation (maybe his adult counterpart should have taken some tips). His English was really good and we shared our berries with him in exchange for some sunflower seeds (look Ryanie the trend has finally caught on).
Sunday - 25/05
|Joy hiding amongst the flowers|
|View from the place where we had lunch that day - sadly a disappointing spaghetti bolognaise|
|Joy made a little friend in the park who just loved playing with her sunnies, while his father tried to communicate with us via our 'user unfriendly' Vietnamese phrase book.|
|Beautiful sunset before a great storm set-in for the night|
Monday - 26/05
Biker dayAfter the great storm the night before, we were told that the waterfalls in the surrounding area would be particularly beautiful to see today (also Roxy still wasn't feeling well enough to do any trekking around yet). So we hire a scooter for $4, filled it up with petrol and hit the road. We first went in the wrong direction (bad start), but we soon realised our error and were off again to find our first waterfall...
|At the petrol station - using the phrase book to instruct the petrol attendant|
|Changing helmets as Joy's head was too small for the first one she tried on (this exercise brought back many fond memories for us of putting on the budget spray-painted helmet and beanie while riding Joy's Pasola back home in High School)|
|To infinity and beyond...|
|We are the great conquerors of the treacherous mountain pass|
We then backtracked down the pass to the love waterfall. There may have been less stairs to face in getting to this waterfall, but it was more taxing for some - Joy was groped by a Chinese lady in a group of tourists- love was in the air, or otherwise she just unaccustomed to seeing a well-endowed lass that she couldn't resist checking if they were BOTH real (awkies!!!)
We were told that tourists can swim in this waterfall and on arriving at the waterfall, even though it wasn't particularly warm, we decided to get our 30 000 dong's worth and take the plunge. There were no bathrooms around so we had to use our skills and have a sneaky wardrobe change. The water was freezing, as can be seen from Roxy's pained expression (despite her trying to look relaxed and sexy).
After lunch and a warm shower to reach room temperature again, we decided to explore some surrounding villages nearby. On the way we had to drive past a buffalo on the narrow road. Joy was a little freaked out by the beasts, but she persevered and we came out alive. The beast seemed not to even notice us - a bit of an anti-climax really.
|Skillful scooter photography.|
When the road became more than Joy was willing to handle (ie. a dirt trek not even made for sramblers- however, the local scooter drivers didn't seem to be perturbed), we stopped to chat to some village children. Joy tried to use the phrase book, but only one child seemed to know how to read - he was 13 years old, but looked much smaller. Sa Pa is known by the Vietnamese to be a very rural and poor area of the country and this was evident in this village by the dirty and snotty-nosed children that we encountered. While in Sa Pa we were constantly charged to visit any of the surrounding sights (waterfalls, mountains and even villages). The money collected is suppose to go to enriching the lives of the local community members, however much like in Africa, a corrupt government sees to it that this money does not reach the desperate people it is intended for.
We had an hour left before we had to return the scooter, so we headed off in another direction to try find the cave of Ta Phin. We navigated our way quite successfully (with the help of some local knowledge), but unfortunately time was not on our side and had to abandon the mission before the cave could be found - we later heard that it is not too impressive anyway so we didn't feel too bad about missing it.
|Red Dao ladies|
For dinner that evening we treated ourselves to some locally grown berries which we were later told only grow in Sa Pa and are only ripe for one month during the year - lucky us!! They tasted and looked like strawberries but with a huge pip inside.
Trekking and Homestay
|It didn't matter if our heads got wet...it was all about protecting the bags!!|
|British boys, Ben and Alex|
In this area they make their own clothing using hemp as the thread and indigo as the dye. We walked passed both these plants growing in the village
|Hemp aka weed|
|Roxy and our guide, Ta|
|Four-leafed clover - must be our lucky day!|
|Harold getting cosy amongst his marble souvenir counterparts|
|The other member of our group that did the homestay - the crazy, long-haired Japanese guy who intends on travelling for the next five years|
|Children having boat races in the river just below our homestay house.|
|Our homestay house|
|View from our window on the second floor|
|Sunset over the rice paddies|
Trekking Day 2
|Ta pointing out a field of hemp|
|Carnivorous butterflies feasting on a dead snake|
We even had to walk along the steep edge of the rice paddy field walls.
|While Roxy held out her hands to stabalise (so as not to stand in the mud like another guy in our group had just done) the locals seemed to glide over with a seemingly effortless grace|