Thursday, September 1, 2011

Midnight Train To Sapa

Flower H'mong woman at the Thursday market.
Sapa is incredible! The trip started out with a bang on the overnight train. John brought some portable speakers that I hooked my ipod up to and soon we were the party car. One of the conductors came walking by our cabin and we thought he was going to tell us to turn the music down, but instead he started bustin a move to Rihanna's "Umbrella". So great. We closed out the set with "Midnight Train to Georgia" and I treated the Vietnamese passengers to my dazzling vocal stylings.

The French founded Sapa in the 20's and used it as their opium headquarters. The huge mountains and surrounding farmland are absolutely gorgeous. (They grow tons of rice, corn, tea, pineapple, honey, indigo, tobacco, and opium.) The town is small and all the old buildings are French. We did a bunch of hikes and explored lots of different villages. Whats cool about Sapa is that there are so many different ethnic minority groups/tribes. We saw six different kinds and they are all totally different. Their different cultures and way of life are absolutely amazing.

Our little cabin on the train
Main street in Sapa
Red Dzao lady walking down the street. They shave half their head and wear red turbans.
Cat Cat Village. Lots of Black H'mong live there. Thats, Steve, the water buffalo.

We want one of these for the backyard. Sound of flowing water is so nice.
wild pigs!
crazy mudslide

water buffalo cooling off
Black H'mong little dance show
Back in town there was a parade of children for their first day of school.
Tons of medicinal herb shops like this.
The next day we hiked down the valley to Lao Chai Village.

Its time to harvest when the leaves start turning yellow.

Black H'mong. Called Black H'mong because the indigo turns their hands black.

Lots of incense sticks drying in the sun.
Later that day we hiked up to the Dragon's Jaw overlooking the town.
We made friends with some monks on the way back down.
The last night we went out with John and his friends in the area for hotpot and more rice wine. We learned that rice wine is way better on a FULL stomach. So fun.
The last day before getting on the train we went to the Thursday market. Three hour drive away in a very remote area. We were so far north that we were literally on the border of China. This is where we saw the Flower H'mong, which were probably our favorite. Most beautiful clothing.

Flower H'mong
Flower H'mong
Green H'mong
Black Dzao

Me getting outfitted by the Flower H'mong.
We are around the corner from the train station right now waiting to go back to Hanoi. When we arrive early tomorrow morning, it is National Day - kinda like 4th of July. We leave for Halong Bay the day after tomorrow and cannot wait to jump in some water!