Our return from Cat Ba Island had us back in Hanoi around 17:00. Our overnight train to Sa Pa does not depart till 22:00, so we hungout at the travel agency office. Lidia worked on her eBird postings, and I on the Travel Journal Entries. We had booked all 4 berths in the train cabin so as to be less cramped, and have a more quiet cabin for sleeping. That worked out well and got a pretty good sleep during the journey. Almost an hour car ride from Lao Cai to Sa Pa due to constantly curving uphill climb thru dense fog. Best tactic - close your eyes and relax - Oh, and make sure seatbelt it cinched tightly.
Although we arrived to hotel at 08:00 they graciously checked us into our spacious, comfortable room. The still dense fog meant there were not yet any views from our 6th floor room windows; well there were - of the fog ! By mid afternoon the sun had substantially burned off the fog and we could now see the extent of the hillside terraces, and they were everywhere. Amazing that there were rice paddies covering the hillsides. Nothing has yet been planted as they await the start of the monsoon season rains.
Walked around in the town center which was choked with construction. Locals informed us that the Chinese have been turning the town into a Chinese vacation destination for the past year or two; trucks, digging equipment, hi-rise cranes, bustling workers, noise and DUST everywhere. I wonder what this town will look like in 5 years time ?
We arranged a half day hike with a local Hmong tribe guide. She showed up with her two month old son strapped to her back ! Two other tribeswomen also accompanied her; one of them also with young baby strapped to her back. The hike was mostly downhill as we traversed the hillsides from one village to the next, usually walking on dirt trails thru the fields. Very peaceful day filled with gorgeous views of the river valley hillsides totally etched with terraces. Quite a sight. Car ride back UP to Sa Pa was a welcome pleasure.
One sight caught my attention while walking on a Sa Pa street - playing cards lying on the ground. It dawned on me that I'd seen the same view in every town & city we have visited in Vietnam ! Playing cards on the ground. Have noticed groups playing cards but not the discard action. Unique national trait; never noticed similar in any other country ?
Tomorrow our return overnight train to Hanoi departs at 22:00, and hotel in Sa Pa has again graciously allowed us a late checkout 14:00, and we again used their comfortable lobby to catch-up on internet access tasks. Early morning arrival to Hanoi, taxi back to travel agency, hang-out in their lobby, utilize iNet access, taxi back to train station for long overnight journey south to Hue.
Cioa for now