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  • Day130

    Traveling to Sa Pa, Vietnam

    January 7 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 3 °C

    Yesterday we said goodbye to our homestay owners. We had such a lovely time in Ninh Binh. This area of Vietnam is beautiful, but what made our stay special was our homestay. We were treated so well and it was nice getting to know the owners. Our homestay owners made our travel arrangements to get to Sapa, a 7 hour bus ride. We were picked up at 8:20 and driven to the bus “station” in Ninh Binh. However, after arriving, we were told that the bus we were supposed to take had broken down. But, not to worry, a van had been arranged for us to take us to Hanoi and from there we would go to Sapa. We were told numerous times that this was going to be more expensive, but that the bus company would absorb the cost. We were also told that buses left Hanoi every half hour and that we would be dropped off at office number 679. It’s at times like these during our travels, that David and I look at one another and really hope we aren’t being scammed. But we remind ourselves that we never have been and that if things don’t turn out, we can always sort it out.

    A limousine van arrived to drive us to Hanoi. It was quite nice and we arrived at office #679 only to be told that what we assumed was the bus to Sapa would leave in 1.5 hours. So much for getting to Sapa in 7 hours. At 11:45 another van arrived and we were told to get on. As I figured this was going to take us to Sapa, I got settled in. I removed my watch, sweater, shoes, got out my kobo and started to read “Educated.” Imagine my surprise when we actually arrive at the Hanoi bus station to be hurriedly told to get out of the van in Vietnamese and to follow a random guy who already had some of our bags, into the station. Such a bad decision to get settled in! We arrive at the bus station with no bus tickets, but somehow were told to get on a bus. We were told to remove our shoes and place them in a plastic bag and find a “sleeper” seat. Rather then a typical bus, this bus was comprised of three rows containing bunker style sleeper seats which reclined and had blankets. It was a great way to travel, except for the last 45 minutes which involved switch backs up towards Sapa. David told me it was a good thing I didn’t have a window seat because I didn’t really want to see how we were making it up the mountain in the dark. But we made it and while I had my doubts, I try to remind myself that most people are honest.

    Sa Pa is beautiful! We are in staying with a Hmong family, one of the Indigenous groups in the area. The food and hospitality has been amazing!! For breakfast we had crepes with sugar, a type of condensed milk and bananas!! We are still in one room with all four of us, similar to our homestay in Ninh Binh, but we are managing and still getting along well! Our homestay is about 4 km outside of Sa Pa, so this morning we hiked up the 4 km hill to get into town and familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. The scenery is stunning. This afternoon David worked on our budget to ensure our spending is on track while I came up with a 6 day itinerary for our stay. Tomorrow we’ll walk back to Sa Pa and climb Ham Rong Mountain. Stay tuned!

    Clarinda
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