We choose to leave Hanoi on the 1st day in the night time with sleeper bus towards the northeast part of Vietnam . Longer time waited than I expected for the van to pick us up the sleeper bus location . We might be the last group to reach there where left only those bad location bed for us .
Inside sleeper bus
I can’t remember how many stop did the bus made with kind of bumpy road condition . Other than that , the sleeping environment was just fine for me . Well , perhaps try to avoid the back seat where is near to the toilet .
It wasn’t good weather at all for winter season . Drizzling with foggy condition caused the temperature low and wet . The moment stepping out the bus , there were plenty of local approached us vigorously hard selling trekking package with really cheap price . Try to avoid that if you don’t wish to get scammed by chance. After confirmed the correct person that we suppose to follow, headed to the hotel with our reserved trekking package by walking several streets early in the morning of 7am with blurry face. Basically we chose 3 days trekking packing which is common package there to experience 1 day stay with the local Black H’Mong people and another night stay in the hotel .
The only spot that keep us warm in the hotel that sort of VIP spot
It’s really cold and wet which I questioned our tour guide whether we should rent pair of rainboot for ease of walking in this wet condition instead of wearing our sport shoes before depart. I got this answer “Is okay , you are fine with sport shoes ” answered the guides.
The trekking started after our breakfast which included in the package .One day pack is needed for this trek as we will be staying in the local’ homestay Lao Cai village . While waiting along the street for everyone to get ready , we sort of greeted by group of ladies that carried bamboo basket at the back with some suspicious eyes. Came to realise that they are the local black H’Mong who will be following and helping us if we need them make me slightly relief .
Sapa town and hotels & restaurants area
Each Black H’Mong lady will choose whose to follow in a group of like 15 people
It’s an easy trek from the beginning with tar road . The heavy fog made the tar forest road shaded with more mysterious surrounding .When I thought the whole journey will be trekking in relaxing with comfortable tar road , the real challenge strike after an hour trek. We were asked to turn in a small muddy road . It was really slippery with drizzle . The sport shoes turned into freaking wet brownish after walked few meters . Most of us barely walk without help of the local Black H’Mong ladies . Without second thought grabbed our hand and supported us along the muddy road . Imagine those small size ladies with not even 5f height supporting western size big guy with 3 head taller . Not to forget the baby slept behind in the basket at the back.
All of our focus were trying not to fall down and make our butt contact with the muddy ground . It’s really tougher than I thought with little frustration walking pace by pace. Heavy fog surrounded the valley blocked most of the view . Nothing much could be seen .
Most of the black H’mong women married young at the age of 16 years old . To sustain all the living they will make some handcraft and hard sell to the tourist or trekker with kind of high price after all the helps given . Even those initial kind help seem to have other purposes behind but looking at the baby behind , you just can’t seem to reject them . I mean we all have to live but just differently ..
The weather turned better after few hours walk towards our lunch place and homestay that we going to stay tonight. Gladly enjoy some of the stream view and terrace paddy rice appeared in front of us once the fog gone .
Look at my shoes condition
The terrace paddy rice with water pond
These portion for 5 people just can’t fill most of us . Well we just have to accept that Vietnamese or the Black H’Mong have smaller appetite
Trekking along this awesome view ,the wet drizzling seem not too bad when the eyes got better scenery to enjoy.
When we reached Tan Van village where our homestay located was around 3pm. Drizzling changed to heavy rain when we stepped in our host place. Eventually spoiled our plan to hang out at some local store there in the night to grab some beer . The rain god just didn’t seem to have plan to stop . We decided to rent a rainboot and our guide help us to get raincoat (1.5 USD per piece ) for coming trek .
The host baby boy in the house .
Most of us were in hunger and little exhausted due to coldness . The charcoal copper basin was the only way to warm us down in the wooden house. All of us gathered at the table to keep warm while waiting the food to be served . Culture exchange from group of people with combination more than 5 difference countries created plenty of laughter and fun time in the silent night while we stuck due to the heavy rain.
The delicious dinner to serve our hungry stomach !
Day 2 Giang Ta Chai village
Next morning, the weather didn’t seem to cooperate well with us. I was awaken by the rain drop that could clearly heard before the alarm rang . However , the wet cold air rejected my body got out from the warm blanket .
After the banana pancake breakfast , with our full gear raincoat and rainboot trekking in the rain again . We were briefed a about Giang Ta Chai village of the Red Dzao minority and met again with another group of black H’Mong ladies from other tribe . That hint us that we will need to spend some penny to buy other handcraft again.. .Waterproof case seem to be a need in this weather . Couldn’t take much scenery photos due to the rain.
Bamboo trees area and the paper umbrella
I didn’t seem to control my balancing well with the wet and cold condition. Fell down plenty of time due to over confident that I had my rainboot with me . No doubt , it did help a lot , could not imagine if I didn’t rent it. It took around half day trek from the village back to out hotel .Most people of our group chose 2 days 1 night package which seem to be little tight as they needed rush to leave after arrived the hotel. Meanwhile we took our own sweet time to shower after the muddy trek
Day 3 – Cat Cat and Sin Chai villages of Black H’mong tribe
Weather turned better with very minimal drizzle and eventually stopped in the afternoon . Cat cat and Sin Chai is a modernize village compare to the villages we trekked on day 1 and 2 . This is a popular route for those who prefer lesser chaos and can be completed within a day . I will categories it as more commercialise route that suitable for family . More souvenir and coffee place. I would admit that I am a little regret for choosing this route .
The continuous drizzle eventually cause snowing at some of the villages which located at slightly higher place. We knew it after our last trek. I just have no fate with the snow perhaps. After had early dinner we were sent by van down hill to the train to catch night train back to Hanoi.
Performing traditional tribe dance
Things you might want to know
1 .How much do I need 3 days 2 nights ?
95 USD ( inclusion 1 way sleeper bus. 1 way sleeper train , fullboard meals 3 days 2 night ) . Not much spending involved as the package has everything included . Perhaps spare another 20 USD in hand for some beer and extra food in the night is definitely more than enough
2. Why not round way train or sleeper bus ?
Sleeper train is way more expensive compare to sleeper bus and I would like to experience both transportation in the mean time . Therefore I requested our hostel Central Backpacker to customize and arrange for us with best rate !
6 hard berth sleeper train
3. Does it required good stamina for the trek and worth well to go ?
Basically it’s an easy trek as it doesn’t involve trekking up the mountain . It’s definitely a check list in the north part with those amazing scene and colourful black H’Mong paint cloth handcraft . Photographers who looks for landscape shoot will be happy to come during Spring time with greenish terrace paddy and good weather .
4. Do I need to bring proper trekking attire ?
It’s really simple trek . A pair of sport shoes will definitely serve you well if it’s not wet but whenever the rain drop start to fall , you just have to rent a rainboot and raincoat .It’s a ‘Must’ . Do not BELIEVE the guide that you don’t need it , you will regret the moment your NIKE get dirt and soaked with water.
5. Is 2 days 1 night enough to explore ?
I would still recommend 3 days which you have some time to explore the town for some coffee time and the enjoy the relaxing moment for the 3rd day after the homestay trek . It’s just so relaxing .
OOTD after the rain stopped