Up in the hills
03.20.2012 - 03.23.2012 70 °F
Sapa sits at 1,000 meters elevation and is where rice and vegetables grow like crazy amongst the terraced hills. We were fortunate to find an $8 fourth floor hotel with a balcony view of the mountains. We enjoyed taking a break from the hard long days of being a tourist and spent our mornings with breakfast on the balcony and closed the day by squeezing fresh limes from the market in our cocktails.
The town of Sapa is surrounded by hill tribes and many of the ethnic women have found that they can earn a living in the tourist industry. They flock the streets trying to sell miscellaneous items to fresh meat tourist. Their English is minimal, so they usually set the mood with “Where are you from?” and “What is your name?” (to this day, they probably still believe Kevin’s name is actually “No Thank you.”) If we had a Vietnamese Dong for every time we were asked these questions we would be traveling for another year! From the safety of our balcony, we could watch the women flock to the arriving tourist buses every morning.
Sapa is famous for homestay trekking between local villages. However, because Robin is still recovering from the knee injury in Laos we looked for alternative ways to enjoy Sapa (her injury is most likely a torn meniscus as diagnosed through emails from our awesome doctor friends). We stumbled on Sapa O'Chau, a school for local hill tribe children and went to visit to see if they had any need for some volunteers. They asked us what our specialties were, and before we knew it, we had signed up ourselves to teach a two-hour session on gardening and water…. scary and exciting! We spent the next day and a half planning our lessons. We found that teaching, although really challenging, was very rewarding and probably the highlight of our stay in Vietnam.
If you like mountains like we do, Sapa is worth staying a while. There are views everywhere you go, from restaurant balconies to easy day hikes or a scooter ride into the winding mountain roads.