12 October 2011

Skinned Dog [Sapa, Vietnam]

Vietnam, Baby! After the shitty bus ride down from China, I crossed the border with no problems. Immediate observations: the English is much better, and the touts are much more persistent. I constantly had people coming up and trying to sell me bus tickets, taxis etc. And all seemed to be at heavily inflated prices. Hmmm...

The border town in Vietnam is Lao Cai. There is nothing special in this town at all. The main differences I noticed from China was the massive communist propaganda billboards, and the BREAD! Being an French colony, it seems the French left behind the secret of amazing bread. A welcome change coming from China. Oh, and within 30 minutes of arriving I saw a woman on the side of the road selling a skinned and gutted dog, head still on. Nice...

But a short 38kms away lies the small town of Sapa. High in the mountains and surrounded by rice paddies, it sounded like a perfect stop for a couple of days.

Sapa is filled with a minority people called the Kmong. The woman are TINY! When I first saw them I thought it was a bunch of school children standing around. They wear colorful clothing, including some good looking leg-warmers, and all carry around woven baskets on their back. They are an entrepreneurial people, making and selling all sorts of things. And their English is surprisingly good. But they can be a little over-the-top and annoying at times. Many will offer to guide you to their villages, but if you decline many will just follow you anyway, expecting to be paid.

The first day was pissing down! But I decided I needed to get out of the hotel and go for a walk. After only a couple of minutes I randomly bumped into Simon, who I met in Mongolia. He is now travelling with a Canadian girl named Yona. We had a good catch up and planned to go hiking the following day, and possibly continue travelling together to the South of Vietnam.

And the next day that is exactly what we did; set off to explore the rice fields and small villages. It was hard going because of the rain - we were basically walking up and down muddy hills. We all fell over at least once, and ended up pretty covered in mud. But it was totally worth it! The rice fields are really pretty. Not quite as large as YuanYang in China, but surrounded by small villages and bamboo trees. We had a few hangers-on for portions of the journey. Two Kmong woman trying to sell their wares, and a little boy whose father sent him after us. We told him repeatedly to go home and stop following/trying to lead us, but he wouldn't give up! And in the end asked for money. When we didn't pay he told one of the Kmong woman and she came after us!

That evening I jumped on a sleeper bus to Hanoi. So a quick run down on my first impressions:
- There are way more foreign tourists here than in China. WAY more!
- Vietnam, or Sapa at least, seems a lot more Western. English written everywhere, a lot of western food, western toilets (yus!) etc. The sad thing is that it is hard to find a real locals restaurant to get some good/cheap/authentic food.
- As I mentioned before, the touts are more stubborn, and they can be a bit of a pain in the ass.
- The bread here is amazing. I'm in love!
That is all I got! Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Hello from Yona's mum. Great blog and wonderful photos!!!!!!!!!!


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