Day 35 - Sapa ArrivalOctober 14, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅
What a wild day! We woke up early (5:40), got ready, packed, ate breakfast (the hotel set up breakfast an hour early for us), and hopped on the sleeper bus to Sapa. I had no idea the sleeper bus meant basically individual beds! It was awesome and super comfortable. The ride to Sapa was beautiful, through the mountains with views of the rice terraces and waterfalls.
Once we arrived and got off the bus in Sapa, our host (well, the homestay taxi driver) was waiting with a sign that said "Courtney". This is when things got interesting and our (my) first minor mess up happened! We were supposed to be staying at a nice hotel, with a private balcony and beautiful mountain views, right in Sapa Town. I had been looking forward to this place for months. As the taxi driver drove out of the town and down through the mountain, I started to get a little confused, but wasn't too worried about it (and he didn't seem to speak much English so there wasn't much we could do). Then the ride continued for about 45 minutes through rocky roads, lined with all sorts of animals - cows, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs. We ended up in the middle of nowhere at a place called Heavenly Homestay. I recognized the name from some emails but the place didn't seem right at all. We checked into our room and I tried to figure out what happened. I pulled out our little notebook with all of our bookings and travel documents and, sure enough, our Sapa hotel was called "Botanic Sapa", and I had jotted some notes about the terrace and the views and being right in the middle of town. That's when I realized what had happened. Back in April, when I was first looking at hotels, I had emailed this homestay about availability, since it was so highly rated. He didn't get back to me for several weeks, at which point I had already booked the other hotel. I deleted the email and forgot about it. Well...2 weeks ago, he emailed me and said he wanted to confirm our Sapa booking for the same dates that we were planning to be in Sapa. I just assumed it was our hotel and told him yes. Then about a week ago, due to the weather forecast, we switched around our Vietnam plans. I emailed him back and asked if we could switch dates and he said it was no problem. He had his driver pick us up and we ended up at the completely wrong place. We considered just staying there, but the weather isn't great so there would be nothing to do, and we were hungry and there was nowhere to go, and there was a chance of flooding and we really didn't want to get stuck there for a week, and there was absolutely no wifi/service and my mom would freak out if she didn't hear from me for a week. So, it was basically all my fault for not paying attention, but we were in the middle of nowhere, not where we wanted to be, and the host was really nice about it and had the driver take us back to the town (not for free this time). Our really nice hotel that I was excited about was full since we were here on the wrong dates, but they were also really nice and gave us a full refund even though it was passed the refundable date. We found another (cheaper) awesome hotel right in the middle of town. We don't have our beautiful terrace with mountain views, but it is foggy and cloudy anyways so it's not a huge deal. It all worked out in the end, just had a couple of hours of stress. We knew something would go wrong at some point, so it could have been much worse!!...sorry...that was a long story!
Anyways, after we checked in, we checked out the town. It's really cool. Full of restaurants and shops and bars, with both locals and tourists everywhere. We wandered around for awhile, got pho for dinner, then settled down at some outdoor seats on a busy corner right on the lake for some beers. Now, we need to rest up - Sapa trekking tomorrow!!Read more