Backpacking in Asia #2: Sa Pa!

After being in Hanoi, we really looked forward to the countryside of Vietnam. Therefore, we arranged a homestay with an amazing local family who guided us through the beautiful rice fields of Sa Pa.

There she was, laughing friendly in front of the only church in Sa Pa: Mama Gia. I only spoke to her on the phone, because she is illiterate. But spoken words are enough to see how friendly someone is. We ate something together, put enough suncream and anti-mosquito spray on and started our 3 hour hike through Sa Pa. At least, that was the intention. But my urge to photograph every beautiful aspect of the nature that´s so different than the nature in The Netherlands made it a 4 hour hike.

If you google Vietnam, one of the first things you see is Sa Pa. Therefore it was not surprising that the first half hour of our hike, we got followed by a woman who was convinced to sell us stuff. Fortunately, she stopped at a touristic place. And then our unique, a bit less touristic adventure started. Most of the time, it was only the beautiful nature with rice fields on the right and Mama Gia, my mama, me and a whole sea of sweat at the left. On the way, Gia told us a lot about Sa Pa and about how she grew up. When she was younger, the nearest school was four hours walking. Therefore she was not able to go to school to learn writing and reading. That didn´t stop her from working. She learned herself English with help from tourists to be a guide.

´´We are at my village!´´ The redeeming words came after more than three hours. But then she followed her sentence while pointing to the highest part of the mountain: ´´It´s there!´´ After walking on stones to avoid the water that flowed under our feet, we arrived at her village with the cutest houses from bamboo that her husband made himself. Soon we got a warm welcome from her family with adorable kids. We slept in one of the bamboo houses (of course, accompanied by lots of insects which resulted in sleeping under a mosquito net that I taped on to my bed) and had diner together with the whole family. A diner with lots of happy water (yes, that is how they call strong alcohol here) that the family made themselves. After sleeping okay because of the happy water, I woke up and I realised in what kind of beautiful place I was landed. I saw the sun coming up, beautiful rice fields and the cute kids playing. The best thing is that they don´t need the most expensive toys here. They are happy with little.

I started the day with making pictures from a new bamboo house the husband of Gia built. When she saw my pictures the other day, she asked me if I wanted to make her pictures for Booking.com. Of course, I did. But there was one place I could not reach. Suddenly I heard noise coming from the bamboo tree. And there was the husband of Gia, at the highest part of a bamboo tree with his phone for the perfect pictures. ´´Just like a monkey!´´, Gia said while laughing really hard. To end the trip, we hiked to the top of Sa Pa together with Mama Gia to get the most beautiful view ever. During the hike, we got company from beautiful buffalos and cows ( I love them!). Gia also proudly showed us her land where she makes rice herself.

After showering and putting all my camera stuff and all my too many clothes in my bag, we went back on a motorbike from the countryside to Sa Pa town to get the bus to our next destination Ha Giang. We did a beautiful motor loop here.

In the next blog: lots of motorbikes, karaoke with a local family and the most amazing food in Ha Giang!

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