The next day in Sapa was a longer hike to Lào Cai village near China border. Apparently, it used to be a key trading post and when my google maps showed how close we were to China, I only wanted to hike till the border but that is only wishful thinking.
The beautiful ladies of Lào Cai rule rural Vietnam. From tour guides to vendors to shopkeepers of various kind, it was the women who ran the show.
They would walk alongside the hikers with their basket full of goodies and as we ended our tour, they would try to sell their items to us. Shawls, scarves, table mats, head bands etc. would be displayed and I too bought a long indigo scarf as she tied one of the friendship bands in my wrist which I still wear today.
The terraced fields would definitely look different in another season but as we left this border town that afternoon, it was shining under the sunny sky.
Took the night bus from Hanoi to Sapa
and arrived in this delightful mountain town.
One of its main attractions is this old church
where Hmong vendors sell little knick-knacks
although they have an allotted market
and they aren’t allowed to sell stuff on the streets
because of some code of conduct for visitors.
There is a lake and a park
another of their public spaces,
that is well kept and tourist friendly
(reminded me of Boulder, Colorado).
Sapa is home to the Hmong community
and we found this grandma making clothes
I had to buy one for myself so I chose one
and gladly obliged from this local tribal designer.
Sapa had its leftover French architecture
and looked like there were new hotels coming up.
There was a square in the middle of the town
a picturesque setting
nice to just sit and watch people
playing football, volleyball and chilling
there were young kids
dressed in traditional attires
who would try sell little trinkets and bracelets
Towards the end of the day
we also managed to visit the church
blessed bountifully to be in this beautiful town.
even if you have never kayaked in your life
do not say no to kayaking in halong bay.
firstly, it is part of the tour package
(you already paid for it)
secondly, the waters aren’t too wild
(no rapids or rocks to capsize your kayak)
thirdly, the caves are impressive
(you feel like you are in a movie)
fourthly and most importantly,
you just kayaked in halong bay.
The trip to the Imperial City in Huế
was highly recommended by our local friends.
It was an impressive fortified city of the Nguyen emperors
but these national treasures have been destroyed by the wars in Vietnam.
Nonetheless, it was still very royal
and gave the impression of a grand palace
as it would’ve existed back in the day…
My Son (pronounced mi-son) is probably
the most unheard temple ruins in Southeast Asia.
It is not Angkor Wat
but these are Hindu temple ruins
after the fall of Champa kingdom.
To make matters worse,
we have the Vietnam war bombing
that wrecked the place.Today, it stands as a popular destination
for offbeat travellers curious to explore
since it has joined the elite club of
UNESCO World Heritage site.