Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vietnam • Day 3 – Hieing off to the highlands of Sapa

Arriving in Lao Cai at around 5.30am, we found ourselves in a sea of passengers also headed for Sapa. Return train tickets would have to be bought on the day of departure so meeting Hie, the owner of the nearby Pho café, was a godsend. We rented a van at 50,000 dong for the one hour trip to the foggy highlands of Sapa. 

Personally, I found Sapa interesting though much too sophisticated to my liking. It reminded us of sagada (and can also serve as a fair warning of taking development too far).  The tell-tale difference is the presence of brightly-colored H’mong tribal people going around town, pressing their wares to visitors and attracting most of everyone toting a camera.

The cool weather made eating a popular past-time for us so we ate at every opportunity. We rented motorbikes to go to the farming villages of Cat Cat and Ta Van (at a rather steep $9/person) Where we gazed at rice terraces that reminded us so much of the Cordilleras back home.A n interesting accommodation to explore would be the homestays in Ta Van ($8-10/night) as it offers a more appealing, back-to-basics idea for people like us who crave for the more rural pace and way of life.

Coming back from the fields, we stumbled upon a new French resto near the marketplace that serves the best homemade desserts we had during the trip. Then, for a rather late dinner at 8, we had a foodie’s dream come true at Gecko’s. From the most sumptuous spring rolls to the very decadent desserts, it became a high point during our trip, the benchmark by which every other restaurant we encounter would be compared to.

Would have loved to nightshoot but it was a foggy evening, better left to welcoming the sandman in Pinochio inn where we stayed. funny thing, we got locked out by the inn at 10pm (moral lesson: the town, for all its sophistication, goes to sleep early). Waking up at 3am due to a supernatural feeling I can’t shake off, decided to night shoot the quiet town even as buddy ironwulf similarly rouses from his sleep so it’s kuwentuhan as I take long exposure shots until nearly the break of dawn.


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