AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Sa Pa: Wandering

Posted on Dec 2, 2013

Today we leave Sa Pa and get the overnight train to Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. The bus is picking us up at 5:30 to take us down to Lao Cai which is where the train station is. Sa Pa is quite high so no trains here. We had to check out of the hotel at 10am and leave our bags there. We decided we would climb up Ham Rong, a reasonable climb on the edge of Sa Pa. The climb was quite good. The path is mainly steep steps but is a little surreal in places, giant Mickey Mouse, Scooby Doo, a dragon breathing water were not what we were expecting. An orchid garden and quite a few flower gardens looked quite good. We went very slowly because today was quite a bit warmer and we have the overnight train and no hotel to have a shower. So we really don’t want to sweat and smell. The views from the top were OK, but it is still very hazy and quite a lot of low cloud is still lingering. But we could see where we sat a few days ago and had no idea there was even a mountain there, so it was a vast improvement. Fansipan, the highest mountain in Vietnam, at 3,140m is opposite the town but is still totally invisible. This basically marks the edge of the Himalaya. This was our short walk anyway: © OpenStreetMap contributors Download file: Ham_Rong.gpx All pictures from this walk can be seen on...

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Sa Pa: Day One

Posted on Nov 30, 2013

This is what Sa Pa looks like: And this is all we could see today: Thick fog. Also freezing cold and raining from time to time. It’s kind of our fault, this is the low season for a reason. Also, we have been looking at the weather for the last few days and knew that it was not good. Sa Pa gets 160 days of fog per year according to the wiki article and most of those probably occur during the winter. So we have wandered around the town. Visited tea shops. Browsed the net a bit (Facebook access for the first time in over 3 weeks). And not really done much else. Tomorrow we have a tour booked. Drive for a few miles then walk about 6 miles to another village. Look around the village. Then drive back. Sounds OK. If we had better visibility it would be great, but should be good even if we can only see very close up. Another bonus is our room now has a heater. With it on full blast for 3 hours the room is starting to feel warmish. Posted from Lào Cai, Lao Cai,...

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Sa Pa is a small mountainous town about 25 miles south of the Chinese border. It is on the tourist trail and has been since 1993 when Vietnam opened it doors to the world. The town is famed for its proximity to a national park and a large number of ethnic minority villages famed for their bright clothing. Due to the poor weather we have not yet been able to appreciate the picturesque rice terraces instead all we can see is mist. We have wandered around the town twice and on every street there are numerous North Face shops. I doubt any are the real thing. This contrasts greatly with the reason most people come here which is to experience the ‘real’ Vietnam. As to what this is I am not quite sure. When backpackers say you have to go here to get the real thing, what do they mean? The locals in their brightly coloured clothes often trek many miles with their embroidered bags and scarves to sell to the hoards of tourists. Their sale’s pitch is excellent. Minority lady – Hello! Where are you from? Shopping? ( Said in a shrill voice) All said in a very polite way, before following you down the street until they spot another westerner. The signs all say not to buy from them and not to give money. The thing is the tours probably exploit the locals as they will most likely only get a small cut from the tours. The surprising thing is that we are once again in a Communist Country and yet everyone is out doing business.  The only difference between the 20 odd North Face trekking stores and the local minority ladies is that the locals are the star attraction and many people find them endearing. What they fail to realise is that they have a ruthless nature and when they smell a weak Westerner or one that finds them cute they won’t go away. We’ve heard stories of people being chased down the side of a hill to escape the pack of local ladies! Posted from...

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Sa Pa

Posted on Nov 29, 2013

The Sa Pa Palace Posted from Lao Cai, Vietnam.

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