During our travels to Vietnam, Sapa was probably the most eye opening, beautiful and destabilizing of all. However, in the three weeks that I was in Vietnam, I will remember the people of Sapa the most and I was only there for two days. I could have spent weeks here and never gotten sick of the place or the amazingly nice people. The children were cute as buttons, the women so hard working and strong in both mind, body and spirt it was humbling, the men, kinda scarce.
On our first day in Sapa we travelled to the Bac Ha Market to see how the locals traded and lived. It was a feast for the eyes. The colors, the smiles, the bartering and bargaining was enjoyable. It always amazes me that some tourist will squable for a buck when these hard working people have so much less then we do. Share the love people. Very enjoyable to see how they lived, work and socialized.
Our second day was spent trekking with the Sapa Sisters. This is a very small organization of a few women who are trying to empower women in their country. They give trekking tours in the rice fields and villages and are absolutely charming, entertaining and knowledgeable. They are also very good with the english language and are pretty easy to understand. When we went I was disappointed at first because it was raining and misting and we debated on cancelling the trek. But we had taken an overnight train from Hanoi to see Sapa and I didn’t want a little rain to deter us. So we I rented some mud boots (they had none in my husbands size) and we bought cheap rain coats and off we were. Our Guide Pen was absolutely awesome. We were also followed by two other young women who one day aspired to be tour guides and followed us for 7 hours in order to sell us some of their goods but also to try and learn english. In the end they saved both my husband and I from slipping and falling in the mud quite a few times and deserved the big tip we gave them. I had also brought along some warm clothing for the children and this were handed out by our guide to everyone she knew. She only kept one item for her daughter. Quite different from our culture. So when we said our goodbyes to Pen, I gave her my fur lined hoody. She was so taken aback that she tood a bracelet off her arm and very gently put it on mine. Needless to say, I still wear it today. So if you are ever in Vietnam, don’t miss a trek with the Sapa Sisters, you will not be disappointed.
Check out my post on the Children of Vietnam to get a better insight into these amazing little ones.
Rice fields, These are all done by hand. No heavy machinery here.
Young woman selling bags to tourist at the Bac Ha Market
Woman selling yams
Woman watching the men negotiate the sale of a water buffalo
Water buffalo, they run wild on the farms and are used to work the fields.
Wise old woman in Bac Ha
Woman selling their vegetables at the market
Young woman of Bac Ha
Wise old woman of Bac Ha Market
Eating lunch in a village house in Bac Ha
Elder of the family
Woman and child
Sapa, this was one of the recipients of clothes that I had brought.
This was a woman from the Red Dao village tribe
One of the young women who followed us and aspired to one day be a guide. She was trying to learn english.
Trekking with Sapa Sisters
When we stopped for lunch, our Guide Pen was giving out the childrens clothes I had brought. This woman was a happy recipient.
Another happy Sapa Woman
On the left our Guide Pen with our two ‘followers’ and another young recipient of children’s clothing and accessories.
View from our lunch cafeteria
Our guide Pen’s aunt in her home.
Woman working at her sewing machine. It was really dark in the house and all she had was a little light on top of her head with lots of smoke coming from the fire on the ground.
Woman at work in Sapa
Getting a helping hand from Pen.
Just a ‘little’ muddy