From Vietnam To China

Day 06 - Sunday, April 15, 2011 - Train Arrival in Lao Cai; Drive to Bac Ha; Visit the Local Market; Lunch at a Tay Community and Visit Neighboring Homes; Drive to Sa Pa to the Hotel

For some reason neither of us slept very well on the train; “clickity-clak” is supposed to be soothing but it was not. The porter knocked on our door at 5:00am and we got dressed quickly and gathered our belongings.

The train stopped at the station in Lao Cai at 5:30 and Cuong hustled us to Le Bordeaux Hotel where we had a room to freshen up, post the journal, and have breakfast.

The hotel bell boys came after our bags at 7:30 and we used our remaining time taking photos and walking around greeting people on this Sunday morning. As this is a Buddhist country, Sunday is just another day in Paradise.

We met our new driver Mr. Lap and we left Lao Cai at 8:00 and drove southeast and on to Bac Ha. For a few miles we followed the Nanxihe River dividing Vietnam and China on the north.

The terraced hillsides grow tea, corn, and subsistence vegetable gardens. The many trails through the dense vegetation are perfect for smuggling contraband back and forth from China and Vietnam.

After an hour’s drive up the winding narrow highway we arrived in Bac Ha, famous for its Sunday Market. The women; young girls and mature women are all dressed in the specific costumes of their tribes.

The altitude of Bac Ha is 3,200 feet and the temperature was 93° with 86% humidity. We all marveled at the stamina of the women dressed in heavy beaded and embroidered clothing on such a warm afternoon.

After two hours at the market, Cuong bought us all a Coke. He is very generous with his dongs, the currency of Vietnam. Because of years of inflation the dong is devalued. One US dollar is worth about 20,000 VND. There are no coins; one can carry a fist full of dongs and have less than $5.00!

Cuong bought scallions, pork, green vegetables, eggs, and mangos at the market to take for lunch in Na Lo village further into the hills. There we met a family of Tay People.

They welcomed us with open arms and the two little boys took us on a tour to meet their neighbors. To a family, we were welcomed and offered hot tea.

After a delicious lunch eaten on their porch, we left the village and drove back through Lao Cai. We headed southwest and up even steeper hills to Sapa which sits at 4900 feet above sea level.

Our hotel is very modern with many wings offering various views of the surrounding valleys below. It did not take long to unpack our bags and get our room organized.

Directly across the street from the hotel is a laundry where one could get 1 kilo of laundry done for 1 dollar – what a deal!

After the sun went down the temperatures dropped. We went out to get a light dinner and get out to know Sa Pa, our home for the next three nights.

Accommodations: Victoria Sa Pa Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D

Please see our Trip Evaluation -- Click Here -- A Complete Review of Myths and Mountains -- From Vietnam to China: Ethnic People of the Border -- Vietnam with Le Van Cuong


Oh, how I am enjoying your trip...Loved your lunch at Na Lo....on the porch with the Coke cans

Norma   April 15, 2012 - 11:58pm
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