Not that we ever were in Kansas... but coming to Sapa was like going to completely new place with scenes I've only ever seen in National Geographic.
Unfortunately, most of beautiful photos from Sapa were lost with my camera on the bus... I was devastated to say the least, but thank goodness for iPhones eh?
Sapa is a rural town in the northern mountains of Vietnam. If you google it, you'll begin to understand how breathtaking this place was. I could have spent the entire semester here (I really am a country girl..) but we only stayed for a week. It was really nice to get out of the super busy and crowded city of Hanoi. Looking back on it, this was almost like a pre-spring break trip, because our schedule here was so much more relaxed than usual. We spent the first few nights at a hotel in the actual town before heading to the smaller village of Ta Van where we spent 3 nights. It was such a crazy thing to be doing "homework" with this amazing view around us.
There were water buffalo, chickens, dogs, cats, pigs, and even a few rats running around the village. Casually. We talked with the village leader, went to a Hmong and Dao village nearby, and haggled with the man local women that came up to us saying "You buy from meeeee?"
It was a bit odd how much tourism had become a part of this village. There were tons of backpackers shops filled with knock off North Face jackets, Keen sandals, backpacks, snow pants and anything else a true backpacker might need up these northern mountains. It actually was quite a bit colder up here, so I gave in and bought me a new light jacket. Then I started bargaining a bit more and ended up getting a wonderful $16 backpack (which proved very useful for spring break!)
So after leaving Ta Van, most of us stayed in Sapa for the rest of the weekend. It was oddly foggy in the town, and then we realized that we were literally IN the clouds.
I took a motorbike tour with one of our translators and three other girls in the group and we got to see even more of this beautiful country side. We went up pretty far in the mountain area where most of our group was hiking. (Due to a sore throat I chose not got hiking). But motorbikes are a great way to get around and see stuff! We got to stop whenever we wanted to take photos, and they brought us to a waterfall and several other villages along the way.
There were also a TON of babies all over Sapa and the surrounding villages. Just about every woman had a baby on her back (which was a little weird as well..) But they were all so adorable! I even got to hold one for about 15 minutes while one woman was helping a customer. Made my day :)
Finished off the weekend by making it onto a Vietnamese reality TV show! It's always women who are trying to sell jewelry and bags on the street, and we really didn't see many men while we were in Sapa, so when this 20 year old man came up to us and tried selling us bags, we knew something was up. Then we saw the camera crew behind him, but I figured I'd just go with it and see what he wanted. So my friend Bianca and I chatted with him for a bit and humored him as he tried to sell us the same things that the Hmong and Dao women were trying to sell us but for cheaper. He claimed he was just trying to make money for a train ticket home.. But he was even dressed in the traditional clothing of the Hmong women! After talking with him and "bargaining" for about 15 minutes we found out he was a college student in Hanoi and was studying business, but he wouldn't tell us anything about the cameras. Bianca ended up buying a bag from him and then he headed off down the road, camera crew and all. While we were talking with him, some of the others from our group were talking with the camera men and they found out that they were filming a reality TV show and they gave us the youtube link for where the episode will be posted once it's done being edited.
So I checked Vietnamese TV off my list and carried on with my night!
Some food we ate
The view from our hotel
Bianca, the Reality TV man, a Hmong woman, and a Dao woman
We took the overnight train back to Hanoi on Sunday night, and resumed our busy class schedule on Monday. Friday we left for Spring Break (that'll be my next blog) and this Monday (April 1) we leave for South Africa!!! Oh my goodness. So excited.
All for now!