Mo hai bai jo! (Cheers in language of Sapa)
Happy times thanks to happy water . It’s Vietnamese rice wine, and has a unique kick.
One of the best places to in Vietnam – Sapa Valley. We took a train from Hanoi, landed up sitting opposite to a French couple, who spoke some English, but sign language was very helpful especially to describe goats, kangaroos and koalas. Don’t ask why the conversation involved them.
The train to Sapa was alright. On the return journey it felt like there was a steel mill running under the coach!
Once in Lao Cai station, we headed to Sapa town, freshened up, and started our trek by 9 am. The weather was a bit misty, but soon the sun came out. I wasn’t feeling my best, caught a cold thanks to blasting air conditioning in Ha Long bay room.
Anyhow, the best part of the trek was our tour guide – a 4 feet 10 inch girl named Sho. She belonged to a hill tribe – Black H’mong. She spoke clear and fluent English, 20 years old and very very friendly. As the trek went on, we passed breath taking hill slopes of Sapa, decorated with lush green rice fields. The rice terraces added to the beauty of the valley, no matter how many pictures we took, it didn’t do justice to the real view.
We had lunch in a small village called Lao Chai. Besides talking to our fellow travellers, we witnessed a predatory instinct among the young girls selling traditional souvenirs in Sapa. They picked a soft target and surrounded them until they bought something! Ah well, I escaped it for now.
Our night was spent in a small homestay in another village. Among other things I learned was – the hill tribes prefer a daughter over a son, women marry early, having a patch of land for rice terrace is extremely important for every family. Also, leaving the valley is not easy, as it costs money. And what it seemed like the women worked harder to support their family. Sho also gave random facts about courting and dating in the hills. She’s a super smart girl, who does a wonderful job as a tour guide.
At night, over dinner the eight tour travellers got friendly, and we shared lots of happy water for every possible random reason. There were 6 nationalities among 8 people, and we decided to do one act from your country.
I made every one spin around in twos (after happy good amounts of happy water) in a traditional Indian game called ‘Fugdi‘, which we played as kids. The Italians were best at it, with the French close behind. A special mention to Celiene, who is one of the Italian guys’ muse, and who came up more than once in conversations!
We trekked another 6 kms next day till I was out of breath. After having a the best noodle soup, and speaking with two Israeli guys (one of them who spent one year in India – he went to Leh!) we strolled in the market, and ran into our new friends from Ha long Bay – Catherine and Lorenzo!
Took the train back, which was an experience of a lifetime. Seriously, I have seen bad trains, and this was in top 3! Anyways, no complaints, it was a great journey with some awesome people. Now off to Hanoi and then to Hue – the city of emperors.