Sunday, March 25, 2012

Parents' Visit- Sapa Day 2 Trekking Through Cat Cat Village

We woke up the next morning to the sound of rain. It was also kind of cold..... and.... the power was out. I was so glad I had showered the night before because the water would have been freezing. We got up and got ready. We ate breakfast and then Terryn and I went on a mission to find some shoes for the both of us and a coat for Terryn. Terryn's stuff was wet and I could tell he wasn't feeling well. We needed to keep him warm today. We ventured out and I miraculously found shoes and a coat for him. I also found trekking socks for me, Sean and Terryn AND a pair of shoes, albeit a half size too small, for me. We all got ready and by 9:30 when Chi showed up to take us around, we were ready.
This time we took off down the road in the other direction. We went through the Sapa market and headed toward the village of Cat Cat.
Luckily the rain had stopped quite early in the morning and surprisingly the roads were in pretty good condition.
We managed to get a group shot of us with our awesome guide, Chi. The picture really shows how petite she is because we are not very tall people.
We had to pay an entrance fee to get into the village of Cat Cat. What was interesting is that they post some guidelines for tourist to follow. One of the rules is to not give money to the children.
We walked down a dirt road that was full of potholes and extended quite a ways into the valley.
As we came to the entrance of the walking path through Cat Cat, we were greeted by a water buffalo munching on some plants.
The entrance of the path was lined with shops and a multitude of colors. Chi told us that most of these shops are Vietnamese owned and not by the minority people of the Hmong or Zai people. She told us that most of their wares were from China and not made in Sapa.
As we continued descending down the stairs we came across lots of different shops, people and interesting sights. I though this dried buffalo head was kind of interesting.
It was Sunday when we toured through this village. That meant that there was no school for the kids so we saw many of them playing. This one bare-bummed kiddo was pretty funny. He didn't seem to mind being half naked.
There were a few boys playing with bamboo stilts. My Dad thought the stilts were pretty cool because they were adjustable. I was impressed that these boys were using them on stone stairs. Boy that would hurt if you fell!
We continued on and Chi took us up some stair to a Hmong home. Outside they were drying indigo-dyed hemp cloth.
Inside a woman was cooking over a fire.
Richly embroidered cloth lined the pathway from the house. 
There was even an older woman sitting outside sewing embroidery.
I would have loved to buy one of these embroidered blankets, but Sean would have killed me so I didn't.
As we continued walking, we came to a river.
There was a small rickety bridge that we crossed to get to a small waterfall.
We rested here for a little while because we had just walked down a ton of stairs.
Then as we kept going we ran into this little girl backing around another little kid. It was so cute.
You could tell that this was one tough little girl!
We finished our hike through Cat Cat and some guys came up to us trying to get us to let them give us a ride back to the top of the hill on their motorbikes. We were tired and sore from the day before. Plus we were hungry and wanted to eat some lunch. Mom was super excited to get on a motorbike so there really wasn't much debate about it. We negotiated a price for five of them to give us a ride. Jayce came with me and Terryn rode with Sean. Mom's rider was the first to take off. I would have taken a few pictured, but they all scooted away so fast I didn't have the opportunity. As we were riding up the road, we saw numerous people walking up. Every time I saw someone I thought, "Man I'm glad I'm no you ride now." Curiously, I wonder if they thought the same about me.

The drivers gave us a ride all the way back to the Sapa market. Then they tried to get us to pay them more than the agreed price. Well sorry, we live in HCMC... we know how this works. They laughed and then took off. We had lunch in a decent restaurant and Chi took off for about an hour and a half to take care of her baby. While we were in the restuarant the power went out again. I started laughing and my Dad asked why. I said... "Mom is in the bathroom and it's gotta be really dark in there."

After lunch we decided that just my Dad, Sean and Terryn would continue trekking with Chi. Mom, Jayce and I would go get a massage. I could have continued trekking, but I knew my Mom was tired and I think her knee hurt. So I stayed with her. 
Chi ended up taking the guys through the main square of Sapa. There were people selling stuff in the plaza. She took them by and old church and then they hiked up part of the mountain that had these really cool boulders.
There were also cheesy statues of Scooby Doo and Mickey Mouse. Terryn kept telling me afterward that he saw Scooby Doo. I think he was excited about it.

Meanwhile my Mom and I got a massage. It felt good. When we were done we wanted to get snacks and some sandwiches for the bus ride back to Lao Cai. We actually ran into Sean and my Dad and they were getting worried that we were back at the hotel to be picked up. I told them to go to the hotel and we'd be right there. Unfortunately, the sandwich place took FOREVER to make the sandwiches. The bus ended up leaving the hotel and stopping in front of the shop. Yep... everyone was waiting for us. Oooops.

We got to the train station and now the tricky part began. We had lost our train voucher and had no tickets. Sean had called the place and they said it was no big deal. Their agent would meet us at the station. Sean finally found the guy and I guess it was a difficult process to get our tickets, but he finally got them. We boarded the train and this time were super quick to get ready. We decided the kids would sleep on the floor. I put Jayce into a suitcase lined with blankets. It worked a whole lot better than them sharing beds with us. I actually got some sleep this time around  but I literally thought I was going to fall out of the bed. The ride was so bumpy. We all thought the term "sleeper train" was a big joke.

We arrived in Hanoi and got a ride to a nice little cafe. We ate some delicious food and waited here until our ride for Halong Bay arrived. Then it was off for our three day adventure in the Bay.

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