Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sapa conti...Where in the World is Jayne (5)

The reason we hired a guide for our trek was because we wanted to do the home stay. It turned out not to be a home stay. It was more like a youth hostel. There were other trekkers there and one did not see the family except when they were serving food. It turned out fine because the other trekkers were really nice young kids. Many of them had been to Laos so I got great information on where to go and what to do. One fact of life is that, in the jungle and in the rural villages in many parts of the world, there are rats. I was down stairs and slept very well under my mosquito net but I guess the kids up stairs were kept awake all night by the pitter-patter of rats feet running over the tin roof. If it had just been the tin roof it would have been fine but one rat jumped on John's net and got on his bed. We got all the details of these events at breakfast the next morning. Since then Nancy looks for rat poop in every hotel room we look at.
The second day's trek was great. We hiked through rice patties and bamboo forests. Lovely scenery. Ended up at a waterfall with a swimming hole down at the river. Of course now that we are down at the river one has to go up to get out of the valley. It was a pretty long trek but we had a van waiting at the top to take us back to town. Hurrah!!
The next day we were off to Dien Bien Phu, the boarder town for Laos and France's Waterloo of South East Asia. This was the part of the trip I was a little concerned about and I didn't want it to be Jayne and Nancy's Waterloo. The Lonely Planet Guidebook is very good on how to get to places. On this boarder crossing it was very sketchy. The crossing hadn't been open very long and details were not in yet. I had planned to do this crossing because it was a little bit off the beaten path and I also didn't want to back track. The book talked about the harrowing trip from Hanoi to DBP but only said if you try it from Sapa you may get stuck in some villages waiting for a bus. I asked the man at our hotel about the trip he said it took 8 hours. When I asked about the road, the buses, and the drivers he just said they do it every day--so, I figured it couldn't be too bad. I thought it was possible that we may be the only westeners on the bus but we were joined by 8 others that had no more information than we did. We took off in a cramped mini-van making one stop all day. The bathroom at this stop was in the woods behind the hut. As I said Dien Bien Phu was the battle that ended France's control in SE Asia. The Captain at the fort assured his superiors that there was no way the Viet Minh could get arms over the mountains so the fort was secure. After going over the mountains I agree with the Captain but we were both wrong. I don't mind being wrong but the Captain did. He committed suicide. The road wasn't all that bad and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. There were a few places where there were big drop-offs but mostly it was OK. I would not, however, have wanted to be on the road when it was raining. The potential for land slides lurked around every corner.
(to be continued)

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