Well, we are in our hotel room in Sapa…after a very long journey. We arrived at the train station at around 7:30 last night and traded in our vouchers for tickets then walked the streets looking for dinner. We found a little family place on the side of the road, grandma scoops the food, granddad pops the beer and mom serves you. You point to different food in the glass and they serve you. We ordered some sort of beef, spinach and the customary spring rolls, and two beers. Our meal was about $6.00 total for the two of us, very good…a bit oily but yummy!
When we went back to the train yard for our 8:30 train it was like we stepped back in time. There were at least 5 rows of old train cars. As we walked towards the back (we were in cabin 9) the seats (well beds) got a bit older and darker with less bottles of water and snacks on the tables.
When we reached our cabin it was full of the locals which meant we knew we had the last beds available on the train, and we were in for an experience. When we entered our “cabin” I took the top bunk and Ad stayed on the bottom. There was a Vietnamese woman with her two children 5 and 3 years old. I took out my handy dandy crayons that I carried with me for them to draw. In my mind, the kids were sleeping on the bottom and mom on the top. But then, just before the train left, a 7 ft. tall Danish young man walked in and he had paid for the top bunk. So there were 6 of us in the cabin. It was fun for awhile and we chatted until the kids passed out, then I did the same.
We were awakened at 4 this morning when the mother and her kids got off the train and then again at 5:30 when we reached Lao Cai. In Lao Cai, we were met with a sign and put on a bus with 20 or so other travelers.
I will say the ride up the mountains was amazing. We are so high above the clouds. We saw water buffalo plowing the fields, and dogs in their cages going for rides on the back of motorbikes. We were dumped at our hotel which then wanted us to wait 8 hours before checking in. Adam spoke up and like my superman, had us in a room in 3. So, now, we are about to freshen up and at 2 meet our guide for a trek through the mountains.
There is much to write about our experiences and feelings about the people and culture, but I will save it for another time. We are both confused as to if we are wrong to expect things out of people and places or if our expectations are too high. We are also debating, constantly, the beautiful cultures that are hidden here in the remote areas, but have succumbed to basically chasing you down the hills asking you to buy things, not even able to smile without people thinking you are going to invest in whatever they are carrying. I don’t understand my own feelings and observations at this point and I know Adam is still working through his too.
We will share more later.