Hmong women hanging out in Sapa

Coming back to Hanoi I caught the train up to Lao Cai on the Chinese border and went on by bus to Sapa which is the premier spot in Northern Vietnam for visiting the hill tribes.

As I got off the bus I was surrounded by hotel touts and Hmong girls selling trinkets. There were about four or five women waving brouchures and business cards at me, A flurry of hands paper and mouths flapping all at once..

Sapa Hmong

Sometimes growing up in a coutry obsessed with rugby pays off. Reversing direction, I rotated 360, sold the dummy and penetrated the ensuing gap, straight through the open door of a hotel across the road which, as it happens, turned out to be as good as any other. An old woman sitting on the porch, a lone spectator, was laughing in appreciation of my "play of the day". Yes, they certainly let to know you've arrived in town.

There is an active market in Sapa which is a focal point for the various tribes so you can see several different tribes represented on any given day.

Below Left: Church in Sapa
Below Right: "Flower Hmong" in Sapa Market

churchflower Hmong

The hill tribe women are well keyed into the cash economy and are merciless in harranguing the tourist to buy their wares. Meanwhile, the industry is busily building an international highway through the villages. I took an overnight trek into the valley below which was pleasant enough despite the Disneyfication of it all. You can't complain too much about the costs either though serious trekkers might find it wears thin pretty quick. The Fansiphan route, weather permitting is highly rated.

Sapa HmongSapa
Sapa HmongSapa Dzao