I came in on the overnight train from Hanoi at 6:00 am, and after an hour van ride arrived in Sapa, chilly and draped in fog and mist. It was nice to be out of the clamor of Hanoi, and to breathe some fresh country air. After a quick nap it was off on our seven-mile trek. As we descended into the valley some of the fog lifted and mist dissolved to reveal the rice terraces Sapa is known for. You will also notice some of these photos bearing the same personality as one of my home page photos. Yes, it is Sapa at a different time of year. I bought the photo knowing I would be in Vietnam at the beginning of my journeys and didn’t even know where it was taken. I met a sweet Australian couple in Cambodia that suggested I visit Sapa, and subsequently met a nice British couple that made the same recommendation. So I arrived in Sapa and came face to face with the region depicted on my home page.
Hmong Woman – A real sweetheart
These are some tough folks. Although you will see satellite dishes outside some of their dwellings, their walls are generally porous and it gets quite cold in the winter. The kids still play outside and are not glued to the TV or video games. The endless rice terraces are solely for the production of rice for families in the villages since there is only one planting in April. Additional funds are required for their livelihood which is augmented by salmon farming, and the raising of cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Many people also act as guides and supplement their incomes through the sale and production of souvenirs.
My Northern Italian Trekking Companions – Alicia and Federica.
Ta Van Village – Dzay People
The Dzay people have become a little more sophisticated in the ways of the tourism business, and have become heavily vested in the formation of homestays.
Hmong woman and a pasty-faced Travel Zealot
Drying Incense Sticks
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful…”
With the Tet holiday rapidly approaching, a common sight on the streets of Vietnam are people riding around with various forms of peach tree blossoms strapped to the back of motorbikes much like their western counterparts at Christmastime. It seems both of our cultures share in a yearly ritual killing of the trees. Just when I thought our cultures were so dramatically different along comes this, complete with strapping it to your vehicle for a sometimes precarious ride home. Some choose the live tree in a pot, but most go for the large branch as seen above.
I have yet to encounter an artificial version. Virtually every household in Vietnam will have these trees on hand. You’ve got to admire the determination involved with strapping one of those unwieldy clumps of branches and blossoms onto their bikes and maneuvering their way home in that rainy, slippery weather.