Good morning Sapa

Another Sapa story by Veve from Hong Kong

Good Morning Sapa

by / Wednesday, 22 August 2012 / Published in Stories / Tagged , ,

We woke up a few minutes before reaching Sapa and rushed to the toilets. My silly thinking says it is better using the train toilet than the public toilet at the train station. Arriving in Sapa at dawn at 5 a.m. was quite something…

Good morning Sapa, Vietnam

In sleepiness I asked myself; where was I ? The morning breeze of Sapa woke me up. It was dark and foggy. In June, morning weather was so fresh. I imagined how it would be in winter (November to February). Northern part of Vietnam has four seasons. I was told that heater is not a common thing. In winter, when it is cold – it is cold, wet and foggy. The tiredness disappeared and changed by the excitement. I couldn’t wait for the adventure…

Good morning Sapa from Veve in Hong Kong

Minh’s friend picked us up. While waiting for other passengers to fill the bus, I looked around, Lao Cai town was still at sleep. I did not see any activity in the street except at the train station. This station is also the bus stop. The big tourist buses from Hanoi depart and arrive here. The station woke up when the trains arrived. Crowds of passengers and cars/mini buses waiting for them gathered in front of the station. Our 16-seater minibus was full right away and we left Lao Cai train station. Soon after that, we started to see the greenery, hill side, paddy rice field ... Good morning Sapa !

One-by-one the passenger arrived at their destinations, Stephanie and I were the last passengers to be dropped off at our hotel. Reaching closer to Bamboo Sapa Hotel, we were followed and greeted by some local girls; “Hallo… Where are you from? Do you want to do trekking? What is your name?”. Their outfits look gorgeous. Stephanie was puzzled and smiled answering their question one by one. We were lucky that early June is not the peak of holiday season, our room was ready at 7 a.m. We could do early check in with no power, as there was power failure. No big deal! As what we needed was the bed to rest !

We woke up after a couple of hours, took our shower and had breakfast at one of the coffee shops along the road while waiting for Yukie and Minh to come. I was so happy meeting Yukie for the very first time! I was lucky to be introduced to Minh too. We discussed the itinerary for the day. The first step was to drop by at the local wet market. This market sells daily necessities where we purchased fresh veggies; tofu, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, morning glory, little bit of chicken meat and rice paper.

Even though, trekking is the main adventurous activity in Sapa, I preferred of not doing that. The physical activity was too tiring for me after previous trip in Siem Reap and Hanoi. Furthermore, I was still sleepy after 8 hour train ride from Hanoi to Sapa. Therefore, we rent motorbike from Minh’s friend who owns bike rental. I couldn’t remember how much we paid for the rental. But I remembered that we spent 30,000VND for the petrol for that day trip.

Can you imagine two Saigoners girls doing motor cross in Sapa? Challenging trekking. Please bold and underline the road condition: it is rocky, ascending and descending! Stephanie did a great job riding the bike. I preferred to sit behind her. At one point, we stopped and listened to Minh's instruction. He took me at back of his bike and we went up, Stephanie and Yukie waited down the ascending road. I watched his bike while he walked back to take Stephanie's bike. Stephanie and Yukie preferred to walk, and Minh drove the second bike.

Then we proceeded with the tour led by Minh. We saw beautiful mountain scenery, rice crops… and along the street we could see some minority people. Sapa is a home for several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao, Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay. It took us almost two hours to get to Ta Van village. That was a leisure ride included many stops for photos shoots! Anh Phang’s house in Ta Van Village is a home stay where tourists can stay and experience the real life of Sapa. He is a friend of Minh. This guy seems to know everyone… Anh Phang welcomed us to his home. Minh cooked some dishes for our lunch. Tofu cooked with fresh tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and carrots, Vietnamese spring rolls, everything was so good ! Plus... Anh Phang served rice wine to make our lunch even more perfect ! ... Cảm ơn rất nhiều!!

Yukie, my new Japanese friend living in Sapa has been so nice and always accompanied me and Stephanie during our trip in Sapa… Thanks to her, we were introduced to Minh, a very nice local tour guide who becomes our new friend too… We enjoyed Sapa, made new friends, and wanted to have more fun… As to continue our trip, that Sunday morning, Stephanie and I walked to the same meeting point to meet with Yukie and Minh... In front of us, there where Sapa town square is… It is a big square in front of the Catholic Church and is used as open market on Sunday for the minority people. This town square seems to be a popular meeting point for both locals and tourists.

Ham Rong means Jaw of Dragon. The way to get there is basically to walk passing the church, where behind it, there is a road leading to the mountain. It is not far and doesn’t need sporty effort... We paid entrance fee of 70,000 VND per person. This place is called as a resort and well-known for the locals. The highlight of the place, I should say, is the viewing area at the top the mountain where we can see the view of Sapa. Come here for this reason…

Along the way walking to the viewing area, we will pass Orchid Garden, there is another viewing area where we can see Mount Fansipan (if there is no fog), then we continued walking and see big garden with colourful flowers ... I was not interested in dropping by at that particular shop but… Stephanie and Yukie seemed so keen, so I followed them. It’s a place where we can rent traditional outfit for photo shoot! -J Okay girls…Good timing, we arrived at the hall to watch the traditional performance. There were too many people, it wasn’t easy to take pics… Walk continued, we went to pass Heaven Gate 1 and 2, then we saw flowery garden and from far we can see the Jaw of Dragon. Still we continued climbing up to the viewing area, perhaps this is the area which is called as “Cloud Yard” ? Sapa looks white in fog… Is it really Sapa? It could be Switzerland! Funny, I have never been to Switzerland, but in my silly imagination it is Switzerland in winter.

Good bye Sapa ... We arrived at Lao Cai train station around 6.15 p.m. and the ticketing office i.e. waiting lounge at Livitrains was still closed. Train is scheduled to leave at 7.30 p.m. We needed to exchange our train voucher (Sapa to Hanoi) with original ticket. Lesson learnt: I should have exchanged it when leaving Hanoi train station.

I asked one person and was confirmed that I had to wait at Livitrains office, just wait, the guy will come… I asked a girl who seemed to be a tour guide holding Livitrains flag, she also waited for Livitrains guy. She does not speak English at all but she laughed when I said; Nếu em đi gặp anh ấy, tôi cũng muốn đi gặp anh ấy. My Vietnamese language at least has reached the survival level-J Before 7.00 p.m. the ticketing officer arrived and we got our tickets. Sapa trip is my farewell trip to Vietnam. This trip would have never been this memorable without trip companion, Stephanie, and nice Yukie and kind Minh. Thanks for the fun and friendship… I enjoyed this trip very much and it seems they enjoyed it as much as I did!

Veve Kristanti

Hello world !!

I am an Indonesian girl from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, and is now in Hong Kong after Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After having lived in Jakarta, I finally started a new life in Ho Chi Minh City. Leaving my home town, country, family and friends to explore Saigon till the day come for Hong Kong.

About my V's

My blog has the same first 2 alphabets just like Ho Chi Minh City! HongKong is so vibrant/vivid/vigorous and plus V is equal to V-in-V_HongKong.

I started writing when I moved to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam in mid of 2011. At the beginning it was only to share stories & information about Vietnam to Indonesian friends. Just for fun. Apparently, it does not only attract Indonesian readers but also others from any part of the world. Thank you. May this information be useful & entertaining. I continue writing in Hong Kong....

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  • Bonjour Veve, (do we promounce Vivi ?) Thanks so much for sharing your story, the world need more people like you, hope to meet in HK one day soon.
    Sapa Story webmaster
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