Sapa. A one-way ticket...
Sapa and BAC Ha from the beginning was the obligatory points of our three week trip through Vietnam and Cambodia. To get there, we extended their stay in Vietnam for three days. And to be in BAC Ha it on Sunday when it hosts the famous market, we had to redraw the whole scheme of the trip and add one not previously planned flights. And if all the other moments of your trip – buying tickets, booking hotels, plan sightseeing –elaborate in sufficient detail, tour to Sapa, it was decided to buy on arrival in Hanoi.
In the capital of Vietnam we arrived in the afternoon, until I reached Hoan Kiem lake, it was already dark. The next night the plan was for the train to go to Sapa, so we needed to now buy a tour. In the Old quarter many different travel agencies, there is Sunshine Travel and TNK Travel, and others, but we sought only Sinh Cafe because in various forums I read about this tour operator only positive feedback. So went to the first we saw of the Sinh Cafe office.
The young man showed us the brochure with a stay at Sapa View Hotel, thought that a tour to Sapa for three nights and two days full Board and, most importantly, with a trip to BAC Ha for 110 km from Sapa will cost $ 200 for two, and tour group will be no more than eight people. In one of the reports of Russian tourists was written that the trip to Sapa, they cost $ 150, but we went further and in BAC Ha, so I found it the price is normal. However in the end it turned out that you need to pay for VAT at the rate of 10%, that is only $ 220.
Now in hindsight we realize that we should not agree immediately, but to go to any office and count the cost of the tour there. But we people are inexperienced travelling alone for the first time, so confused. In General, we bought this tour.
The next night this same young man at our hotel gave us tickets for the train to 21h 15 minutes, put in a taxi, after stating that in the city of Lao Cai, where the train comes, we will have to wait with the sign of VASILY. In Lao Cai, we arrived at five in the morning. Beating all meets ten times, but without seeing a cherished plate, just in case looked at the huge man at forty, a list of Sapa Summit Hotel, and was surprised to find his name there that we at the office of Sinh Cafe is not allowed. Still can't understand how this could happen, it means that someone called our hotel in Hanoi and then made our name in the list of Sapa Summit Hotel, but why?
While we were disappointed that the group was not eight, as promised, and at least thirty-eight. Not even enough seats on the bus, the people sitting in the aisle in the jump seats, holding your Luggage at the knees.
Thirty kilometers from Lao Cai to Sapa at the mountain serpentine, sometimes quite steep, and the bus is overcome in about one hour.
And here we arrived at the Sapa Summit Hotel, surrendered his passport at the Reception and received coupons for Breakfast. The hotel is located on a steep hillside. To get to the dining room, need to go down four floors. In this case you get to a large veranda with views of the roofs of the lower houses. The fog now some sham, then thickens, then dissipated. You will not understand, whether it is fog, or clouds. And the air is so fresh and invigorating! It seems that there will be something extraordinary! Well, miracles don't have to wait long. Started our adventure.
We barely had time for Breakfast soup, Pho noodle soup and to check mail on one of those standing in the large dining room of computers, as we were invited to the Reception. It turned out that in this hotel room for us booked. Well, with me we had a business card of the Sinh Cafe office, where we bought a tour. We were not against to stay at the Sapa Summit Hotel, and the girl on Reception did not seem to mind but after her nervous talking on the phone with a representative Sinh Cafe mood had changed. She said that we will not be able to stay here and, moreover, had to pay her for the Shuttle and Breakfast. We tried to explain that it's not our fault, because our name is in the list of transfers, but it didn't help. We had to pay 130000 VND and get back their passports and assurances that the money will return in another hotel. Good thing one of us thought to take a receipt for the money, it helped us later. And here we stand on the street with things and wait to see what will happen next. Taxis there is a guy on a motorbike and invited us to sit down. We are glad that took Sapa only a backpack (the suitcase behind you will not be let down!), perched behind the biker and the breeze rolled under the hill. But even then we were confident that we were going to another, better hotel.
The reality was different. The hotel, which brought us, called the Sapa View Hotel.
Just say that at home we are unable to find at least a mention of it on any of the many sites for booking hotels. And not the hotel he was in, especially a three star, but rather a Guesthouse. But we realized immediately, but only when he was in the room. And before that we had to talk with another girl at the Reception. And our English, and it is also far from perfection, and we explained to each other we work. She claimed that at the station we were met with a sign VASILY, we argued that such signs were not there, and our last name (not the name!) was in the other list. In General, the consensus we reached, and return of 130,000 dongs she refused.
Had nothing to do, we went to check into our room.
This dresser with mirror is the only piece of furniture apart from the beds. The room has two Windows. That left behind a torn curtain, 30 inches is a cliff. And that on the right, right by the bed, facing the corridor and not fully closed. In the corners hanging cobwebs with flies caught in it, probably in the last century. But finally we were struck with a bathroom the size of two by two meters, in which the cone shower hung over the toilet and turning on the shower, the water instantly flooded everything and turned the bathroom into a swimming pool.
And here we finally understand what happened to us the divorce in Vietnam, which was read in the reports of some tourists. This is our first experience of independent travel, and when we were preparing for it, many talked about the fact that all may not go smoothly, must be some kind of lining, it is necessary to be ready for that and treat them philosophically, not to spoil his holiday. In the end, we're going to the Buddhist Asia! It is one thing to talk abstractly about this, but quite another to really set yourself in such a situation to the positive. We did it not at once. It can be seen in Buddhists we're not good enough, work on yourself and work!
And then, finally, at nine in the morning we go on a tour – trekking to the village of cat Cat. The group was really small – we are a couple from Malaysia and a couple from Australia – just six people and escort guide. After a thirty Hanoi to Sapa are very chilly, so be sure to bring warm clothes.
Sapa is good at any time of the year. How it is lovely here in Sunny weather, when clearly visible, all these mountain peaks, now hidden by a dense fog, we can only guess. But fuzziness and blur of the landscape was so much mystery and charm that we quickly forgot about all their misfortunes, and finally came to peace.
That's the way we saw the surroundings of Sapa:
The village itself is cat Cat is not quite a true residential village locals, and a kind of open air Museum with its many gift shops.
Near cat Cat is an unusually beautiful waterfall with a height of ten meters:
Back to Sapa returning also on foot, and some members of our small tour group chose to drive a motorbike, which at the exit of the village offers a great variety. Apparently, this is the main activity of local residents-men, while the women grow rice and trade in the market. Tracking was about six kilometers.
Sapa – the town is very small, around it, slowly, forty minutes. It was a Saturday. Don't know does it depend on the day of the week, but in Sapa wandering crowds of women dressed in national costumes, selling covers for pillows, bags and purses of their own making. Tourist, and more tourist who decides to buy something, they surround a dense ring. Each requires you to buy from her, desperately waving their goods, there is an incredible uproar. Honestly, it's worth seeing with your own eyes! But after the sale of goods saleswoman did not lose interest in his victim, and continue to keep nearby. We did not realize why until I saw one foreign tourist, apparently a very wealthy country, absolutely oshalev of local color, already bought one whether blanket, or poncho, and decided to change it for a thing of a different color. As a result, all the performance was repeated, and she was the winner of two already covered.
The whole trip to the village of cat Cat and walk around Sapa took about three hours. In the afternoon we returned to the hotel for lunch, which is impossible to say anything good but bad (or dinner). A bland plate of vegetables with a small piece of meat and without any drink.
The second half of the day did not include any excursions and we went back to wander around Sapa.
And the fog became thicker and thicker until, until we stopped to see two steps:
Just to walk in the fog we became interested and we went to the room to write a letter to their family. Then already quite in the evening went to a cafe where there was wifi to send. Apparently, it was some club fans of seeds. Before each visitor and all the tables were occupied, stood on a large plate seeds, the husks were all thrown on the floor, so it was all covered with a thick layer. And this picture reminded us of something painfully familiar – the old Soviet films about collective farm life. In General, we drank coffee in Vietnamese and decided that day, no matter what.
Here is the Vietnamese coffee with milk and ice:
Turkish coffee through a strainer slowly drips into the Cup, which is already filled with about one centimetre of condensed milk. Then everything is mixed and poured into a glass with ice. Unusually tasty!
The next day we had a trip to the small town of BAC Ha in 110 km from Sapa, famous for its Sunday market, and then on to Lao Cai. Breakfast, consisting of dry white loaf and a piece of omelette four to five centimeters without any drinking, we treated already as a true Buddhist, calm and ironic.
As time has shown, that our adventure is not over. See, somewhere up there decided that the replacement of a three star hotel to the Guesthouse is too trivial an incident for us and we need to add another extreme to get the full experience. But we have not yet guessed!
At eight o'clock in the morning on the mini bus with a group of people from fifteen we went to BAC Ha. The first time the serpentine has gone down from one mountain, then she was a person to another. In General, the road we were a little tired, and it took two and a half hours.
On Sundays in the town of BAC Ha market, where local residents, more resident buy and sell everything. Compared to SAP, where women in traditional costumes were many, there is simply the sea. The crowd lively, screaming, hurry, something chewing, bustling and very smart women do not pay attention to the rare foreign tourists. This was the most authentic Vietnamese provincial colour which we wanted to see! It is absolutely impossible to find the words, at least to some extent reflecting our experience! Perhaps it is only by Gogol Nikolai Vasilievich.
Here he is , the Sunday market in BAC Ha:
After visiting the market we were fed a delicious lunch that's included in the tour price, which was a pleasant surprise.
The tour continued in this residential village near BAC Ha, which is called floral because in each family there are many children. Here are some photos:
And then it was a long journey to Lao Cai. It turns out that it is on the border with China. Locals can, by purchasing a ticket, to go there to walk days to thirty.
We stand in Lake, and there beyond the river – China:
Our trip ended in four hours of the day on the forecourt at the restaurant where we had dinner and train tickets. More precisely, the tickets we had on a particular space on the train to Sapa, departing at 20h 15min and arriving in Hanoi at five o'clock in the morning, and needed boarding passes.
Here we come to the final part of our trip to Sapa, which otherwise will apofigeus, cannot be called. The boarding passes for the train we had promised to bring in five hours. We are a little tensed, not knowing what the problem is, because the places the train was already booked but obediently went for another hour to wander through Local. At five o'clock it turned out that the tickets for the train at all. Young people long for something we were told, but apparently from exhaustion and excitement, our knowledge of the English language has dropped to a critical minimum. We knew only that we need the train no tickets, because today is Sunday and a lot of wishing to leave, and have the train tickets to 19h 30 min in a compartment for two people. Then followed a lengthy monologue, in which we clearly few times I heard the word VIP, and after frequent peresprashivaniya we have confirmed that we are indeed going in the VIP-kupe together. We were concerned that the boarding passes to us and not given, and said that in 19h 10min after us will come with serving station and take you directly to the train. In all this I felt some kind of trick, but we didn't understand what it is, and what we need to do – whether to run by the station and to investigate on the spot, whether to relax and have fun. We chose an intermediate option – no ran, was sitting in the restaurant, washed down with beer soup, Pho. But relax and could not.
At seven o'clock for us to really come to a railway worker in uniform and with a badge on the neck – a young slim girl, do not speak any English. She really took us to the train. And then we experienced the biggest shock in the past two days. VIP-compartment for two people is a compartment of the conductor, littered with various junk and extremely dirty!
Before departure of the train remained for about ten minutes. We pushed the coupe the poor little girl proved to be extremely yell at her, while trying to figure out what to do. One of us offered to go back to the restaurant and make it a big scandal. Second, the most wise, said, what is important to us to leave or we can stay in Laukaa even on the street, and tomorrow is the last day of our stay in Vietnam and it is better not to risk it. Won discretion. Of course, history does not know subjunctive mood, and we can only guess, win or lose on that left. The girl was in such a hurry to get away from our eyes, when we release her the way I dropped some papers. And then finally we got our boarding passes, because to take them from us, she did not dare, and quickly ran away. The coupons were marked price – 78000 Dong or 4.5 of the dollar, as we later realized, it was the tickets in a sitting car. It is now clear why we did not give them into the hands!
You can describe our sleepless night. The coupe was always someone banging on some passengers, our "friend" the guide for some very necessary items, other railroad workers. One of us shed a tear of self-pity, and the other in protest, spent the night on the top shelf without removing the Shoe.
By the way, such clothes, do not involve any pillowcases and duvet covers that are offered to passengers. In the inspection of a compartment of the conductor was found only a pile of bed-sheets is not the first freshness (it is visible in the depth of the shelf). Draw your own conclusions.
The train arrived in Hanoi at four in the morning. Still on the train on the map, we determined that the old quarter not far from the station. In fact, then to Hoan Kiem lake, we walked for 25 minutes. And at the station we had to figure out which way to go. We went, of course, not there. Tell about this in such detail because, when you exit from the station boarding passes passengers are taken, but we, not knowing this, went to a large group of tourists, and coupons worth 78000 Dong remained with us. So we can go to the other side of the station, at the entrance we were given other boarding passes and again they have selected. So we learned that there are tickets that cost 168000 dongs, or 9.5 USD.
In fact, the journey to Sapa is over. It only remains to tell how once again went to the SINH CAFE office, located at 4, CAU GO, HOAN KIEM, HA NOI. We went back relaxed and slightly cooled, so assumed only to make a noise, to Express what I think without much hope to return though any money. We have the impression that young people have, in principle, waiting. And when we mentioned the police and the Ministry of tourism, his eyes flashed outright fear. First he told us that Sapa View Hotel has two stars, had to poke his nose in his own handout, which clearly drawn three. He pretended that he was surprised, said that he had never been there and was misled. To our remark that he is a bad worker and does not know what sells, became hard to thank us for what we helped him a lot and opened my eyes to the deception, a dozen times we shook hands thirty times said "Take it easy" and fifty times "Don, t worry".
He was very unpleasantly surprised to see we have tickets for 78000 Dong. This is understandable, because they had to take when leaving the station, and on this was built the whole calculation. Told us that he knows nothing about our road adventures, and had contact with him, knowing that ten minutes before the train's departure is almost impossible. About the transfer said that there was a sign with the name VASILY, and as appeared in another list of our second name that we did not give him anyway, he knows nothing. Also we had to pay for Shuttle service and Breakfast, to get back his passport, and he was once again surprised when we showed him the bill for 130,000 Dong.
It is unknown whether us something to achieve without these papers, probably not, but against them he had nothing to say. He agreed to refund the difference in price of tickets and he had the tickets only worth 300,000 dongs, or 16.5 dollars. In the end we got back $ 35. Certainly, it would be possible to do more, but we are already great enough by the time its chorus of "Take it easy", so we said goodbye to him forever and went immediately to spend newly acquired money for Souvenirs.
Now two weeks later, remembering a trip to Sapa, we just can't keep from laughing. No, it is said "For a broken two unbeaten give"! But now we can safely put yourself in the category of seasoned travelers!
And Sapa and BAC Ha is worthy of the highest praise and thousands of exclamation points at the end of the story.
Will "we" in Vietnam welcome to Sapa!!!!!!
Published with the kind permission of the authors: Vasily and Tatiana
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