RICE, RICE BABY: Trekking in Sapa
The mountains in Northern Vietnam, close to the China border, were calling. We answered, and brought our baby along for the ride.
To trek in northern Vietnam, it requires a train ride from Hanoi to Lao Cai, then a winding (eh-hem frightening) minibus ride to Sa Pa. If you're doing a trek through a company, you can usually book all your transportation through them. But, these companies usually book you on the privately-run train rather than the publicly-run train. Well, we did both and I'll say the only real difference was the price and the clientelle. The cabins and beds were basically the same in the publicly run train, and literally half the cost. On the public train, it's mostly Vietnamese (probably because they know what's up), so unless you only wanna hang fellow travels, save a couple of bucks and take the publicly-run train. And check out my boy The Man in Seat 61 who seemingly has committed his life's work to give you all the info about trains around the world.
2 out of 3 of us slept on the overnight train from Hanoi to Sa Pa
The trek began a few hours after we arrived in Sa Pa, after a quick breakfast, shower, and refresh. I thought I'd be miserable and tired, but if I'm in the mountains, ain't nothin' can get me down.
Treks out of Sa Pa are very common and a go-to tourist spot for many. Because of that, we asked our guide Zé to take us on paths less traveled. Little did we know that she would test our balance beam skills on a mile long wet, muddy, 3 inch thick rice paddy.
Alright, this doesn't look that bad, but it was frightening. Believe me.
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the constant rocking in the carrier, or maybe it was the lousy sleep on the sleeper train, but boy slept for most of the hike the first day.
Babies on babies on babies.
Following Zé into the fog.
Lunch break for some fried rice.
Zé emerging from the fog after (somehow) spotting her bull (only by sound mind you) a mile from her house.
Zé gave us the option to stay at her house for the night, or go to a guesthouse. In an effort to steer clear of other tourists and the inability to refuse an awesome experience, we happily stayed with Zé and her family for the night.
Arriving at Zé's home to her son building a fire.
Her family pulled out all the tricks.
"Check this out"
We fell asleep that night socked in a cloud of fog, leaving us dreaming about what was around us. Zé's house didn't have windows, so when I woke up and Jamie told me that it was rainy again, I was bummed out. But, then I walked out to this:
The next morning, we woke up to a clear day, unbelievable sites, and indescribable feelings.
After quick breakfast and some morning play seshs with Zé's kids, we headed out for day 2 of our trek.
If you look closely, Z baby is fast asleep on Zé's back. She didn't trust us to carry him through the slippery parts. (Rightfully so considering we ate it multiple times on our way down)
Built-in babysitters everywhere in Vietnam.
Post hike always ended with Z Baby moving around since he was in the carrier quite a bit. Let me just say, Purel was our best friend. We were lucky that the owners of the guesthouse that we stayed in the second night had kids and lots of toys to play with.
Morning snuggle sesh after 2 out of 3 of us got a good night sleep on our double bed (do you see a trend, here)
In the summer months, these rice paddies are even greener (though it's hot then too, so I think we hit the sweet spot in February).
Views for days.
Boo 1, Boo 2, and Boo 3, in no particular order.
Last photo of the trek, taken on day 3 on a short day hike. After we finished, we headed back down winding roads back to Sa Pa, freshened up, and caught the night train back to Hanoi. Whirlwind 3 days was so worth it.