Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 77 Sun 12/09 - Visiting the Cat Cat Village of H'mong Hill Tribe in Sapa

Today Weather : Sunny Clear Sky
Today Spend :

Cat Cat village of H'mong ethnis minority is the nearest hill tribe village in Sapa. Many of them walked from their bottom valley houses about 2 km up to the Sapa town. Organised tour from Hanoi includes a visit to this village, to experience and to learn about the culture, their everyday life and how they planted paddies on the steep hill slopes with primitive irrigation from the mountain stream. This village came under the care of the Sapa Tourism Board and a fee of 20000 vnd is levied for every visitor. There is a waterfall (not allow to swim) and a hall for cutural and musical performance, of course you had to pay to watch it for another 20000 vnd. The fee are not expensive if you compared to China, but I found the H'mong people are unfriendly and very seldom put up a smiling face when come to greet the visitors. They only interested in selling their handicrafts, rarely they want to strike up a conversation with the tourists, maybe there is no common languages,shy? or whatever, but the least they can do is to put up a welcoming smile for the many tourists who came here from all over the world. Shouldn't they feel proud and honour for that? Leaving Sapa tomorrow morning for a well deserve downhill to Lao Cai. If  time permits, I will cross over to Hekou to stay.
Ticketing booth to visit the village 20000 vnd
Young girls carrying their sisters or brothers
On a winding road down the valley
Rice fields terrace
Black H'mong good walker
Close encountered with the paddy fields
Scenery on the down
Ticket checking station
Even if you want to....
Stoney staircase walkway
Buffaloes blocking the way
Hands,needles and color threads paintings
Handicraft shop

Some of the handicrafts in display
Down to the very valley
Waterfall not allow to swim
Wooden bridge across the stream
Hall for Cultural and musical performance

Day 76 Sat 11/09 - Walking Around the Sapa Town

Today Weather : 24 - 30C    Sunny Blue Sky
Today Spend : 263000 vnd   Total : 9666000 vnd

A day just spent walking around the town, eating, taking pictures and seeing so many activities of the ethnic minority H'mong with a bamboo basket on their back, young little girls carrying their younger sisters or brothers at the back, going around the tourists trying hard to sell their handicrafts at the road sides, in the square or the market. For those who love mountain climbing, there is the Fansipan 3143 m for the challenge. A climb package for 3 days 2 nights inclusive of porter,tent,meals,entrance permit cost Usd 75 if you have a group of 9-16 pax. From Sapa, take a bus or van to TramTon pass, the highest pass in Vietnam, after 6 hours of trekking, camp the 1st night at 2200m. Second day, continue trekking for 4 hours to the summit and return back to the same camp for 2nd night. 3rd day trek down and back to Sapa.I wouldn't want to think of climbing this time,besides fatigue,cost is another factor if you don't have enough pax. Maybe I can help to organise a future climb for my trekking frens at home if they are interested.
Can u spot the Cat Cat hotel i am staying?
Touristic town
Sapa park at the lakeside
First place for a backpacker to look for
A market square for the H'mong to trade
A suvenier shop with many North Face products
Display of the H'mong's households
Mountain views from the my hotel window
A landmark in the town center

Sapa market
Tropical fish on sell in the market
Black H'mong gatering in the market square
Another Hill tribe with the red headscuff

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 75 Fri 10/09 - Hill Slope Camp to Sapa

Today Distance : 12.3 km    Total : 3990.5 km
Today Weather : 25 - 32C   Sunny with Mountain Cool breeze
Time on Bike : 1 hr  58 min
Ave Speed : 6.2 kmh   Max : 30.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 5%    Max : 11%
Today Spend : 393000vnd    Total : 9403000vnd

It took me 2 hours of continuous climbing for the last 11 km and finally I am in Sapa. As expected no downhill as Sapa is located at an altitude of 1500m above sea level, Southwest 7 km lies the roof of Indochina and the highest peak in Vietnam, the Fansipan 3143m. Due to its beautiful and stunning mountains sceneries,coolness in temperature and the ethic minorities of black H'mong,Dao,Tay with their colorful traditional dress, Sapa is very touristic. Lots of hotels,shops and restaurants in town. Foods and drinks are expensive, but the hotel rates are quite reasonable due to a very competitive market. Cat Cat Hotel where I stayed has a vey big clean room for 7 usd.I was a clear potential target when I rode into the town, many hotel runners came to approach me " Sir, do you has a room?" and my priority is reasonable rate 1st and then follow to view the room. I was quite satisfied on my first try and booked for 3 days and got a discount of 2usd. I love this place, just relax may be to visit some hill tribes villages, before back track to Lao Cai. I had climbed all my way up here, and certainly I won't want to miss the DOWNHILL!!!!

Day 74 Thu 09/09 - Lao Cai to Camp 11 km to Sapa

Today Distance : 26.0 km    Total : 3978.2 km
Today Weather 26 - 39C     Sunny with night rain
Time on Bike : 3 hr  37 min
Ave Speed : 7.1 kmh   Max : 41.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 6%    Max : 16%
Today Spend : 79000vnd    Total : 9010000vnd

Too over-optimistic resulted in today's surprise camping 11km short to Sapa. My estimation is to reach Sapa early in the day and check in a guesthouse to relax a bit. But the mountain is too big and long, seems never-ending of continuous climbing, and I had no idea how long this climb will go on, whether there is a downhill? So the best option is to camp and enjoy the mountain views of terrace paddy fields and start fresh tomorrow morning. There are numerous good campsites, grassland flooring,mountain stream water for washing. Luckily I still has some rice to cook, a can of beef in tomato sauce and 2 slices of pork saucers for dinner. The scenery is best so far in Vietnam.
Start of the climb from Lao Cai

Another new road on the way
Rest stop at a bend
Road make its way in between hugh mountains

They are the kings of the road
Z-section of the climb up ( can u spot the bus?)
River flowing at the bottom of the valley
Paddy fields
Kid look very unhappy
Serious looking black H'mong hill tribe
Good view on the mountain
Camp just at the egde of the slope
Mountain stream water nearby
Cooking at 1100m
My camp dinner