Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost in the clouds

Arrived in Sapa today around 8:30am absolutely knacked after a very uncomfortable overnight train ride. The mountain town of Sapa is located at 1650m above sea level and minority people from villages all around come to the markets everyday but particularly on the weekend. A huge tourist drawcard is the "Love Market" held every Saturday - a kind of speed dating for the minority people who live in tiny villages dotted around the countryside. Arriving on the Monday I seem to have missed the weekend rush which I was happy about as I it made everything much more intimate. I hired a motorbike and guide who took me to 3 villages nearby. It is an incredible experience to drive on the back of a motorbike from the bottom of the valley from Ban Ho (Tay and Zay village) which is located at 600m up to Sapa and feel the change in temperature and climate from warm and muggy to what feels like an icy chill in Sapa. The road gradually winds through the mountains with no fence between you and the vertical drop on your left side. The scenery is stunning with jaw-dropping views of cascading vertical rice terraces that spill down the mountains like a patch work quilt. As we climbed higher, a thick mist rolled in so visibility was reduced to only a hundred metres or so, and to my left all I could now see was a wall of white fog and the air heavy and chilled. Quite a scary experience but amazingly exhilarating once you got over your initial fears. I truly felt like I was lost in the clouds.

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