Actually getting to Sa Pa involved an overnight train trip to the city of Lao Cai. The train, called the Sapaly Express, was definitely the nicest train I have ever been on. Each cabin had 4 sleeping berths and we were able to book 2 full cabins so that our family of 7 were the only ones in the cabin.
|Seriously, how nice is this train?|
|The proud hikers|
|Sa Pa and its downtown lake|
|Vi with some local Black Hmong girls|
|Our family and the helpers|
Breakfast the next morning was a lovely revelation. Due to the French influence, the Vietnamese serve crepes as a breakfast food. Banana crepes and instant coffee were so much better than what I imagine we might be served at a Chinese homestay. We were so happy for the concept of breakfast:) After eating far too many crepes, we bid our host family adieu and set forth for the village of Ta Phinn where we were to meet our transport van back to Sa Pa. The hike on the second day was only 5 hours. Along the way we met a group of Black Hmong girls who were out with their machetes(!) cutting things down for their parents. We shared our fruit and some of our bread from our picnic lunch with them. Our guide said that kids in the mountains only get fruit 1-2 times a year so it is a rare treat for them. We were happy we could share. Once in town, we had enough time for a quick foot massage (Violet, mom and I) and a shower (the menfolk) and then we took a minibus back to Lao Cai to catch the night train again.