After Mai Chau, we headed north towards the Chinese border. The end of our trip was spent in Sapa, which is in the Hoang Lien Son mountains. This is the area of Vietnam where there are terraced rice fields. We had seen pictures of these before, but we were super excited to see them in person! This area is also home to two ethnic groups – the Hmong and Red Dao.
We arrived in Sapa around lunchtime and had some free time after lunch. There was lots of shopping and napping before dinner. We had hot pot for dinner, which was the first time Mike and I had ever had hot pot! There was a giant pot of broth in the middle of the table on a hot plate – the servers bring over raw meats and tons of vegetables and noodles. Then, your table basically just adds whatever you want to the pot and you let it cook! The servers told us how long to cook each meat. It was so delicious! We also continued our tradition of drinking rice wine with dinner, so that was fun too!
The next day, half of our group took a hike in the mountains and the other half drove to a village and had some time to walk around. Mike and I joined the latter half. We were so lucky to come across some women processing rice and got to see how it’s done! We also got to try some fresh green rice, which was surprisingly sticky and sweet. We ended up at a restaurant that overlooked the terraced rice fields and met up with the other half of our group for lunch. After lunch, we went to Ta Phin Village, to visit the Red Dao. On our way to the village, we stopped at an abandoned Catholic church that had been built by the French in 1941! It was so neat to see and it was a very picturesque stop!
After the church, we continued to the village. As our bus parked, the Red Dao descended on our bus like crazy! They were all eager to sell us their textiles and swarmed our group the whole time we visited the village. It was a bit overwhelming, but it didn’t take away from seeing the village! My big story of the village was that I saved a puppy! We were walking around the village and I saw a puppy that had his head caught in a plastic bag handle and was stuck on a pole. There was a family eating lunch around a corner, so I asked our guide to mention to the family what was going on with the puppy. They rushed over and rescued the puppy from the bag, so I felt a bit like a hero.
The village was a great stop – we got to see a man making concrete planters and another man doing some metal work. Aside from the Red Dao following us the whole time, it was a very cool place! For only having about a day and a half in Sapa, we packed a lot in!