I honestly just don’t even know where to begin with my past 72 hours. All I can say is that I am so immensely grateful to have shared the following experiences with my new Swiss friend Sandra. I am also trying to make this as concise as possible but please stick with me.
So on Monday afternoon I made the spontaneous decision to join Sandra in Sapa. We took the night train from Hanoi departing at 21:50. This was not too bad except for the fact that there were multiple times that I envisioned my family receiving the news of my death via a top bunk train accident.
On Tuesday morning we arrived in Lai Cao and set out to find a bus to take us to Sapa. All is going well and we find a weird enough dude to drive us for 100,000 VND each. We hop on the super cramped bus and await to depart. All is merry until the weird dude aggressively tells us to get off the bus because it is full. My response is along the lines of ah yes, it is full because we have booked and we are all now on the bus.
A long story short he got a better (higher) offer with four European peeps and he wanted us off because we were cheap. We didn’t budge until he physically removed Sandra’s bags and left them in the rain. All of us on the bus were baffled and intrigued that he a. Had done that and b. Was going to fit 4 large European travellers and multiple bags into 3 seats on an already cramped bus. Amaze-balls.
We eventually made it and with several strange incidents in between, we finally meet Bau. Picture the scene it’s foggy as fuck, like 151 or Janes Groove on a Saturday eve, it’s dark and raining and you are approached by what appears to be a 50 year old, minority woman asking you if you want to trek into the mountains and visit her village. Naturally you say yes to such requests.
So we set off on Wednesday morning. The views were phenomenal. Rice paddies, greenery and hills that make you think you’ll be having a cardiac arrest before you reach 25. After we catch our breath and our vision is restored, from the rush of adrenaline/blood to the head, Bau casually points out that we are in fact hiking through a marijuana plantation. And holy Santa Claus shit she is not joking. Weed everywhere. I now completely understand why the buffalo were lying about the place blocking the roads, as they were clearly high as shit.
After convincing her that it’s probably not ok to just grab some for the eve or better still ‘just take some home to our country’ we appear to move on without a fuss. The day goes well, besides harassment from small village children asking “you buy from meeeeeee,” and being separated from Sandra by an inconsiderate, Gandal like buffalo. Here I am, for about 10 minutes, trying to convince the buffalo that it should let me pass until I realise that it A. Does not speak English, B. Is probably high as a kite along with it’s fellow blazing buddies and C. is in fact a buffalo.
After 14 Kms + we reach her little shack in the midst of mountains and rice paddies. Of course I’m covered in mud whilst Sandra is clean as a whistle, a clear enough reminder of why I simply don’t buy white. It’s breathtaking and the sunset was sensational. We are both amazed that people, NOW, are living in the conditions that Bau and her family live in. The house was made of bamboo, leaves and cardboard boxes with the earth as the floor. The electricity is very limited, they grow and catch what they eat, they barely shower, have no running water, they ‘bathroom’ with the pigs and sleep on beds of bamboo amongst the canines.
It’s an experience that once removed from, you can fully appreciate the situation and be blessed that you had the unique opportunity and also so grateful for what we have at home. BUT while I am sleeping on my bamboo bed next to 4 newborn pups, 3 dogs and Sandra I’m not thinking so much of these things. Especially when you find out just why Sandra was laughing hysterically with Bau, while I have my eyes clenched. So while I’m choosing that ignorance is bliss, Sandra had discovered that the things hanging above our bed was in fact pig dicks that they were drying to eat for later.
So in a nutshell, no pun intended, the past few days have been phenomenal and unique enough to say that I’ve now slept next to decaying pig dicks amongst dogs and god knows what else. And at the end of it all I’ve decided that perhaps ignorance is not bliss… but … I wouldn’t change anything for the world.
If anyone is in Sapa, Northern Vietnam and is interested in a unique experience with Bau please call her on 016 853 585 29.