Monday, July 21, 2014

Northern Vietnam... Sa Pa

I traveled to the town of Sa Pa. Everyone said that I had to visit Sa Pa, both the locals and the travelers. In the middle of Sa Pa there is a little lake. 
And also this Catholic church. It was the first church that I has seen in quite a while.
Across from the church was an open park where a football match was being played. 

Check out the video. http://youtu.be/PphOcnS4wpg
Around the corner the local version of hackysack was being played by the tuk tuk drivers. 
I walked around the town and found this staircase. I did not know where it would lead but I decided to climb it. It led to nowhere in particular, but sometimes I just go where I feel led. 
Later, and I found the market.
I picked up some bananas to eat for a snack and for breakfast.
I didn't pick up these dried goods, but they looked interesting... some ginger and nuts. 
In another part of the market there were some restaurants that specialized in grilled or barbecued items. You select the items that you want, then the restaurant grills them on an open fire. 
I opted for a different restaurant that served this fish and rice meal. It was perhaps the best seafood meal that I had eaten in Vietnam.
Sa Pa is known as a tourist town. The main attraction is a visit to the hill tribe villages and the rice fields. It can be a lucrative business for the hill tribe people to lead tours through their villages. Rain or shine, every day groups of people would take tours to visit the villages.
Since I had my own motorcycle I decided to take my own tour. I rode down the street and out to the countryside where I came across views like this one with terraced rice fields. 

Mountains with a river running through it. 
With my little moto I was able to visit three or four different villages. I would simply park my moto near a house and walk around the village meeting people. 
I took in the wide angle.
I came across these oxen.
And these little ox herders.
Check out the video. http://youtu.be/CvP5lGlPDMw
The red bull of Vietnam. 
I was debating with myself if I should trade in my moto for an ox. 
You have to be careful when rounding some of the corners. Unfortunately some of the hill tribe villagers drink a little bit too much on the weekends.
Fields of green.
Towards the end of the day I met this cute little old lady. 

This Hmong lady was sitting by the road all by herself in the middle of nowhere. I drove by and said hello. She started talking to me, but I could not understand her. But she kindly grabbed my arm like a grandmother and would not let go. She pointed down the road. I concluded that she needed a ride to her village... so I offered her a ride. She had trouble getting on and off my moto so I had to pick her up. She probably only weighed 75 pounds. When we were riding on the moto she was yelling "ciao" to people.  I believe that the Hmong speak their own unique language. I believe xin chao is how you say hello in Vietnamese. And chao is an abbreviated version for foreigners. 

We rode together for about 5 km. We reached a little break in the forrest and she tapped me on the side to let me know we had reached her village. I stopped and picked her up and set her down off of my moto. She gave me a big hug and a little woven bracelet. 
She actually tied it on my wrist.

At the end of the ride we took the selfie photo above, I showed it to her and she really like it. Then we said goodbye, each in our own language, and she disappeared down a dirt trail. 



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