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Vietnam - Sa Pa (more rice terraces, apparently)

Written on: Saturday March 7th, 2009

We ummed and ahhed about whether we should head up to North East Vietnam in the hope that we might catch a glimpse of something like Longji, but without the mist. After meeting up with Sarah and Tim again, we decided to all go up to Sa Pa together.

Hmm, what were we thinking?! On our ride up the mountain the visibility got less and less and less and less until we could see no more than a metre ahead of us on the road. Sarah and Norah were gripping together for dear life (getting used to that feeling) as we braked hard for every pedestrian, water buffalo or truck coming the other way, as they emerged from the fog.

On our way up it was clearly visible where the road and parts of the mountainside had fallen away in the floods and landslides of August 2008, which had left many villages completely isolated. Around 30 people had been confirmed dead, and a similar number were never found.

All the locals were wearing traditional dress, and there were some really interesting differences dependent on the tribe. Watching the groups of people carrying goods in baskets, or herding small groups of buffalo was so intriguing.

The town itself is a hill station developed by the colonial French, and previously the area had been inhabited just by local village tribes.

At one point, Jon and I were walking down one of the 'main' streets and suddenly there was a huge electrical noise from above, then fireworks started descending on us. About 10 people, including us, scarpered in every direction, stood back and watched while the electricity pylon exploded two further times, and then eased to a constant small flame.

One hour later the entire power to the town was out, so our head-torches came in handy. Then Jon's mysteriously went out so we were left with just mine! 

We should have been able to see Vietnam's highest mountain, Fan Si Pan, from where we were staying, which from the photos on the internet looks amazing, however until we headed down the mountain to walk a circuit through the fields and Cat Cat village, we really didn't see much!

N.

(Cat Cat View)