Monday, June 25, 2007

Sapa Town

We are in our last day up in the mountains, enjoying the mild weather and small town pace. Yesterday, we took the three hour drive (each way) to the Bac Ha market, which takes place every Sunday in an even smaller town than this one. Though the town is tiny, the market is at least five times the size of the one in Sapa. The tribal dress there is even more bright and beautiful than what the Hmong here where, which is why the main group over there are known as the "Flower Hmong". There was a section of the market selling Hmong knick knacks geared more towards the tourists, and we each picked up a few things, which was worth it for the haggling experience. We would examine an item for a while as the woman selling to us said, 'Beautiful' over and over again until we asked how much. We would be quoted a price, at which we would balk visibly, almost setting the item down. We would then counter at 50% of the opening price, and the woman with whom we were haggling would laugh. Every time. This amused me to no end. We'd meet somewhere in the middle, and I picked up two items for which I have no need, one of which I'm giving to my dad (lucky you!). Also, if any of my readers want an embroidered purse with bright colors, I have one more day here so let me know.

After the market, we went and toured the closest Flower Hmong village, and got to go into one of the houses.

The three hour drive back (one hour on a winding mountain road with no shocks, and only one lane) was beautiful, but by the time we got back here we were exhausted. We treated ourselves to dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town, and then passed out watching Speed dubbed in Thai. It was fun, we could hear the characters in English, and then a Thai woman would come in and yell out the occasional line in Thai. We learned to tune her out, as if we were watching a movie with a loud and rude neighbor.

Today, we are taking it easy in Sapa until our night train. It's nice to be in a cooler climate, and our day consists of walking from cafe to cafe and drinking coffee, banana shakes, and beers. It's a rough life up here. Good thing the view from every place we go is the most stunning thing we've ever seen. I should mention that this internet cafe is filled with little Hmong girls who are emailing on one computer (they seem to have a pen pal) and surrounding me as well, commenting on the speed at which I type. One is so close, she's practically leaning on my arm. It's pretty amusing.

Tomorrow we get picked up at Hanoi station and taken to Halong Bay for an overnight cruise, which we have been led to believe will be the highlight of the whole trip. So I probably won't blog for a whole two days-- try to contain yourselves!


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