Sapa is a small rural town located in northern Vietnam, famous for its many, many rice fields, breath-taking mountainous range and relaxed atmosphere.
After a long bus journey from Hanoi, I was greeted by a vivid sunrise as I stepped off the bus into Sapa. Unsure what to do or where to go though I was happy to finally stretch my legs. There were several local Vietnamese ladies patiently waiting, they offered opportunistic travellers the chance to visit their home and stay for a few days.
Of course I jumped at the chance, gleefully skipping along with my newfound friend. The Vietnamese grandma was well-versed with western culture, confiding in me that she even supported Manchester United.
Once I got to her home and met her family, she made an authentic breakfast. I don’t normally take photos of my food but this was an exception.
I was in the middle of nowhere and unsure what there was to explore so my homestay homie offered to take me on a trek (though I wasn’t aware it would last 12 hours).
I ditched my sandals and opted to go barefoot for the trek until a big black snake crossed my path. Fortunately, there was a spare pair of pink wellies available. Not only was I ready for the trek but I looked awesome too.
The trek involved jumping, pole vaulting (using bamboo rods), sliding down mud and trying to balance on short wooden planks, a bit like playing Tomb Raider.
About 3 hours in, I was exhausted but luckily there was a random make-shift shop near the top of a hill. Well, it was just a hut with a few bottles of water and snacks but I rejoiced nonetheless.
My own personal tour guide laughed as I struggled during the trek which made me laugh too. I could feel my legs about to cave in yet I couldn’t give up, there were so many great spots for selfies.
By the end of the trek, I immediately called shotgun as I darted towards a hammock in the homestay, refusing to leave until at least after a week. But then I could smell something aromatic, grandma was cooking again (sweet salvation).
Visiting Sapa was a memorable experience which was exactly what I wanted though the next time I’m offered a trek, I hope it involves either a Segway or lasts under 2 hours.
By Max Chang