Trekking Sapa, Vietnam: Slippery Slopes!

Hey guys, it’s been awhile! This post is 2 months overdue! Traveling, vlogging, blogging and lack of sleep took its toll on my energy reserves during my whirlwind adventure across 3 continents in April. Let’s pick up where I left off, shall we?

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Trekking. Sapa. Vietnam. The sole reason why most people make the trip to Sapa is to do the trek through the rolling hills and get a taste of the authentic way of life among the many Hmong villages along the way. Those with more time can opt for home stays with local Black Hmong families, but we opted for a short day trek.

We booked our trek through the Sapa Elite Hotel the evening before and paid 330,000 VND (~$14.75 USD) for the 13 km half day tour (9am-3pm)  with lunch included.  Our trekking guide, Cu, gathered a handful of trekkers from our hotel and the one next to ours. After a short run-through of the day’s itinerary, we made our way towards the villages of Lào Cai. 

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9:00am start. First shot of the 12km trek. 

Aside from previously googled pictures, I really did not know what I was in for. Keep in mind, I am definitely not, by any means, fit. Despite my lack of athleticism, I threw on my Nike running shoes and hoped for the best. Little did I know, running shoes surely aren’t made for trekking through the muddy fields.

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The trek was along the edges of these muddy terraces. It was hard to plant your foot anywhere without getting them either wet or muddy!

I HIGHLY recommend wearing sturdy shoes with good traction and a pair that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. I busted my ass more than a few times and was covered in mud from knee down!

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Happy that I have a fat booty to cushion my hard falls!

I can’t talk about this trek without mentioning the Black Hmong women who walked along side us from the start of the trek all the way until lunch time. To be honest, I was quite skeptical of these women for fear that all they wanted was for us to buy handbags, scarves, or other handcrafted items from them. This isn’t entirely true. They were incredibly welcoming, sweet, and a pleasure to talk to. Many of them wearing nothing but flimsy sandals, carrying babies on their backs, and yet they were always offering their hand to help me stabilize myself along the more difficult parts of the trek.

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These Black Hmong women trekked along side us more than half the way and were sweet enough to hold our hands so we wouldn’t fall.

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Anike, my South African friend, holding a handcrafted heart shaped souvenir created by  this sweet woman. 

However, many of the Hmong women gathered outside of the restaurant where our lunch was served for their last attempt to get all the foreign tourists to buy goods from them. They flocked to us if we looked showed the slightest interest in any of their colorful handcrafted goods. I knew that if I bought from one, I’d feel bad for not buying from another so I decided not to purchase anything to avoid the stampede of solicitors.

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Cu, our trekking guide, was excellent! He spoke to me in both Vietnamese and English. He made sure to give the group plenty of time of pictures and short breaks. It was great to have a guide that was so knowledgeable about the local people, the land, and the way even though he wasn’t from the area. I learned so much from him and would highly recommend this tour to anyone just because of him!

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Anike with our new friends along the trek.

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Vietnamese black potbelly piggies!

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Pup trying to catch up with his mama!

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Young Hmong students at school. 

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It is common for Hmong women to have several children to help take care of the family and look after them when they grow old. This mischievous little one gave me all kinds of cute faces!

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Crafts in the making at our last souvenir shop.

Although it was difficult at first, the trek through Sapa was definitely a memorable experience. I never even knew what trekking really was, but I am grateful to have done it here. I came for the sights, but the charming people along the way made it well worth it.

There’s no doubt that more and more tourists will come year after year fueling the growth of more commercial establishments in Sapa. I can only hope that the new grand additions  won’t lessen the glory of the old Asian charm that makes Sapa what it is.

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Don’t let the humans ruin you Sapa!

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