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Train tickets to Sapa





Zapped at Sapa



After a team talk and an assessment of our current map position we decided to push ahead hard and try to get to Sapa before dusk. This would mean a long tiring day, however it would mean that we would have more time to relax when we finally got there. Even with some difficult driving ahead we still managed to smile and wave to the locals that we passed with their shouts of 'hello' being echoed at every turn.

Soon into our journey we made a grave error and lost the main road that we had been trying to follow to Fansipan (the mountain between us and Sapa). Realisation set in when the road we were traveling along began to direct us away from where I believed our bearing should have been. Also the road became even more isolated and looked as though it was relatively new in construction/still being constructed. After driving along this strange quarry like track for sometime with no road signs or turn-offs we decided to stop and stare at the map for a while. Soon we heard the noise of a motorbike heading towards us from the same direction we had come. When it finally arrived I waved the driver and his passenger to pull over so we could ask directions with our limited Vietnamese and map to point to. After a confused discussion we were advised to carry on in the direction we were heading and so we did. A one point a little girl (no older than 10) passed us on her way from somewhere to somewhere. We offered her some biscuits for her journey, which she accepted without a word spoken and then carried on. Carrying on along these half constructed road we passed the section where the Vietnamese civil engineers were laying the hardcore down with old machinery confirming that we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Eventually we came to the end of this new road section and ended up at a point we had passed two hours previously!!

Back on the right road/track/trail/whatever we started to climb the winding pass up the side of Fansipan and as we climbed higher the sky grew darker until the condensed moisture in the air had no where else to go but down. Tilly and I quickly took shelter under a tree to don our macs and assess whether it was a light shower or not. 

This was no light shower, it was fine rain and plenty of it traveling sideways - we were soaked and had a long way to go still. Things would get much worse before they got better as we pushed onwards and upwards along the winding mountain pass and against the prevailing winds. I could feel water running all over me and in my squelchy boots, my knuckles were now red raw and numb having gone from one extreme to another, but there was no turning back. Finally we reached the summit and decided to take refuge in an old checkpoint building that was empty but open. I had started to shiver and so removed as much wet clothing as I could and tried to get warm by running up and down the stairs of this old building. A small trekking party who had decided to take shelter too joined us and we were able to get a warm drink from them in order to heat our insides. After about 45min the rain seemed to slow and so we took the opportunity to continue our journey down the far side of Fansipan and onto Sapa.

When we finally arrived in the beautiful mountain village of Sapa (our first glimpse of normal civilization) we checked out a few hotels first before choosing a popular for hotel/guest house that had grown fairly large over the past years with new sections being added onto the hillside each year The views from our hotel room which looked out over the valley were amazing as misty clouds climbed past us and through us revealing glimpses of mountain tops before hiding them again. Another added bonus to the room we had was the fireplaces with logs etc in our room. It was great to hear it roaring and to dry ourselves from the heat of the flames.

We decided to get our clothes washed whilst we were here as everything had become very grubby from our road adventure. However upon sending our clothes of to be washed I soon realized that I had left the key for our motorbike in my trouser pocket! I immediately made my way down to reception to alarm someone of my misfortune and to identify its location as soon as possible as it was detrimental to us returning back to Hanoi with the Minsk! After a few phone calls I was told that they key wasn't in my trouser pocket. Insistent that it had to be in one of the pockets the owner of the hotel offered to take me to the laundry place to check. So of we went into the wet night on her scooter, me on the back holding her umbrella with one hand over us both and the other holding onto the back for dear-life. Now when we got to the laundry I was surprised to find a family of Vietnamese huddled around a kitchen table of what seemed to be the main room of the dwelling. I was shown to a small passageway alongside this room where a large drying room was constructed. It had glazed patio doors as its entrance and then rows of hanging space over a concrete mesh floor where heat could rise. If my key had fallen out her, it would be burnt to a crisp. The laundry guy disappeared inside the drying room to find my trousers and their cat followed him in unnoticed. I began to get concerned about the cat as this room was pretty hot and it was now trapped inside. After a great deal of searching and me pointing at my trousers that I could see through the window for the 15th time the key was back in my hand - thank god and bless the smoked pussy.












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