Winding roads always lead you to an interesting destination. In Vietnam, that means Sapa – a hill country bordering China, where local mountain tribes live in the valleys, tending over rice fields and kids with apple cheeks, shyly peeking from their mother’s slingbacks.
Getting there is half the fun. An overnight train journey (we took the Victoria Express and stayed at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa) from Hanoi brings you to Sapa the next morning with more travel in store from the train station to the hotel – up the winding roads.
The hill station is how most other hill stations are in Asia – local, rural, basic and rustic. Womenfolk walk about with their kiddies on their backs selling wares like jewellery, scarves, handmade bags, belts and jackets in bright colours, and other kitsch. I must say, I saw fewer men and if there were, maybe they do not conform to the tribal attire.
You can arrange for treks that take you into the valleys and their huts which brings you close to their way of life – a rather simple and down to earth as expected. You will most likely be accompanied by women who will “adopt” you as their journey partner throughout the trek with a hope to make a sale or two at the end. Although the valley is quite commercialised with touting and touristy knick-knacks, it is still quite innocent. There are other treks in the mountains depending on the time you have but all are guided tours.
The town has one main road – the main artery where life in all its colours can be seen, felt and experienced. The by lanes are interesting to explore. Climate wise, it is cool in summers, cold in winters.
I lost a lot of photos from Sapa unfortunately barring the three below. The experience of course is priceless.