Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sapa.... Where in the World is Jayne(4)

Took overnight train and then a 45 minute minibus up the mountain to Sapa. What a kick the arrival is. The Hmong ladies--in full dress--hang around main street--there's really only one street--waiting for vans to arrive. When they do there's a big scramble with lots of chatter running after the van to be the first person there, with their wares, when you get off the bus. Got out of the crowd and into a hotel. The ladies stood at the windows showing us their goods. One was making thread out of a reed. Got information on where to go and left the hotel. Impossible to leave the hotel without accumulating an entourage. They are really quite delightful. I've read about the Hmong and how gentle they are. (Found the next day on our trek that even the dogs are gentle). Even when the ladies are pestering you to buy they're nice. Buy from me. You bought from Zur, you make her happy, make me happy. By the time we got though the market we just had two followers. They seemed to have adopted us and the others accepted this and went on their merry way to find other tourists to adopt. Market was interesting. You could buy grub worms, blue chickens, fried crickets, and a whole menagerie of weird things.
We had decided to climb the hill. When we got there we found that there was an entrance fee. This got rid of our little friends. I loved the way they put it. At the top of the hill there was folk dancing --"free". It's just that there's a $5.00 charge to climb the hill. Five dollars was quite steep--and so was the hill-- but once we got to the top it was really fun climbing through the rock formations. The folk dancing was good too. And guess what. When we got down our little friends were waiting for us. Nancy found that you don't say maybe later to their request to buy. They don't forget and hold you to it.
The next day we took a trek. Could have done the same thing without a guide but we wanted to do the home stay in one of the villages so we did the tour thing. We were joined on the tour by a very nice family from England--and of course another entourage of Hmong. We walked for a while down the road and then started down the valley. I was standing looking down and there were some Hmong ladies coming up a VERY steep path. I made the comment to one of the English kids (22 years old kid) that they surely don't expect us to go down there, do they? He said, I'm sure not. There's a path going this way. Well, it just shows how much we knew. Down we started and thank goodness a Hmong girl adopted me. She stayed with me all morning helping me on the down hill. Up hill I'm fine but the old knees start screaming after so much down hill. At lunch break my girl said she was home and wouldn't see me any more. I asked our guide about tipping her and she said not to tip--buy something from her. So, I now have another pillow case. Bought one the day before because I wanted one--but not necessarily two. I really like the concept of buy something rather than give them money. We were now down in the valley so the afternoon trekking was easy. Beautiful scenery and interesting villages. We left the Hmong area and now our entourage was the Red Daz tribe. They were very soft spoken with lovely smiles.

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