Updated: Mar 7
Dates: Feb 28-Mar 2, 2023
Soundtrack of the day: Vietnamese karaoke music
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, wet, and foggy.
I boarded pink pokemon bus and it was extraordinary! I had pokemon stuff toys and had pokemon all around me as I travelled from HaNoi to SaPa. it was and experience and here is the video to prove it (pending: https://www.tiktok.com/@thezoloren)
I arrived in the late evening to arrive in a very steep and busy SaPa. It was so bright and busy. There were tuktuks that actually were long golf carts driving all over, motorbikes, and so many people in various types of Red Tao, Tay, Giay and Hmong traditional wear.
Once I arrived I took a "tuktuk" (a long golf cart) with a group of Korean men and paid 20K VND (usually it's 50K alone). Then I walked down a steep and rocky hill with a French, Danish and Italian group to our homestay. There we met one of our energetics who was hysterical. He checked us in all at the same time and spoke to us like we were children. It was so comical. He was so serious and commanded us nicely. I couldn't help but laugh while he glowered at me... haha
Then, after some convincing with the co-owner Trang (who is stunning!), I signed up for the 1 day "trek" to see the local village communities of SaPa. I was told it would be a nice walk... lol (little did I know)
Then I met Laura from Brazil, Leo from Switzerland, a German, a Swiss and a French. We were so international but no one wanted to join for lunch, so Laura and quickly realized we better go eat!
As we walked up the hill to find somewhere to eat, my internet didn't work and these friendly ladies gave me their wifi to find a restaurant. They were asking if we needed massaged but honestly, they were more worried, I looked so lost. Thank you ladies!
We also met a guy walking down the hill looking frosty and red faced.
He was wearing a bright orange jacket and was smiling brightly.
I asked, "you all right?... want to join us for dinner. I'm Zo from the US."
He responded cheerily, "Nice to meet you! I just arrived from the Ha Giang loop.:
Zo: "Wow, are you Aussie or Kiwi?"
He. "Kiwi, living in Australia --- sorry can't join you all, I'm knackered from the drive and need to sleep!"
Zo: "All good, peace and rest."
It was so cool because he was the first Kiwi, I had met on the whole trip!
Afterwards Laura and I walked all the way up the steep hills and steps to find a local bar that had some Vietnamese group eating and drinking snacks. We talked about law, school, travel, goals, life and visiting South America and Brazil. Meeting Laura was meant to be, because for my whole, I had envisioned studying in South America and traveling... I had been putting off the challenge and the adventure for years for boys, broken hearts and travelling for friends' weddings.
We chatted and I knew the next step was to make it to Brazil by July. Anyways, as she consumed her tiny Banh Mi/Banh My and I had a warm Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Pho), I giggled as I saw the young little kids running about watching YouTubes of Roblox games. (I reminisced about Amber J. and her daughter and had panging feeling I missed her voice and stories back home in America).
After leaving and paying 65K total, Laura and I were still hungry. Then I saw the local shops selling the local chestnuts... I stopped Laura and said we have to get some.
Me: "Girrrrl, I grew up eating these except with water but I love these, I have these in Hong Kong, the US and sometimes in the Philippines! --- these are so affordable, I'll get us some!"
Laura and got a heavy bag for 20KVND (less than 2 dollars) and snacked on these walnuts all the way home, through a mini photo shoot and to bed.
I felt terrible as I made so much noise in so much damn noice in the little hostel and also someone pooped so badly in the en-suite toilet, I had to shower in the public bathroom.
MORNING HIKE (18 USD / 5 hours to Tavan / Ta Van village)
In the morning we started our drink exactly at 9 AM with so many international visitors and went for a trek and I went wild the trek was a proper hike through mud and I had a lady give me a bamboo stick to help me. I used it to barely fall. As we trekked up and down hill sides, mud, plants and bamboo forests, we witnessed beautiful vistas of rice and indigo fields with clouds and fog covering some of our views. It was truly a beautiful walk as we passed so many homes businesses and had a tasty Hmong meal overlooking the hills and rice fields.
Later, after seeing so much --- you can see on my SaPa stories on instagram. I was dropped off in TaVan village and shortly hosted by our tour guide's sister. She welcomed some of us up a steep hill to her house, where we met her mother and father-in-law. We had fresh green tea from her garden and the 4 other visitors and I discussed world politics and how blessed people were to live in Switzerland and Europe compared to other countries.
I excused my self and then I arrived at the Hmong House Sapa homestay and it was stunning. There were traditional wear all over and the bed had a bed heater.
The owner welcomed me with a huge cup of hot tea and then I passed out in my hiking clothes. When I woke up I heard my neighbors talking about getting the bike up hill and I got ready for our 150 K VND dinner.
I didn't expect such a large group but a whole tabled filled up.
S. from Basel, Switzerland, an artists and student
T. and A. from Kent, Belgium, a paralegal and psychologists
G. from a small town in Quebec, a former teacher turned gambler
M. from Germany and Sweden, a psychiatrist
F.I. and M.I from Milan, Italy, a flight attendant and a business owner.
and the beautiful Hmong family hosting us with their darling daughter who was speaking with us in Hmong, Vietnamese and English.
I couldn't believe what we experienced. The food was extraordinary with one dish being cooked for 8 hours. A German traveller Tim and I consumed most of the food as the people around the table enjoyed a conversation eating. We were
We had the following dishes:
I recommend this homestay with all my heart and miss it so much!
Afterwards we chatted into the late evening about each other cultures and were we were from, T. from Belgium kept laughing that S. from Basel from from a tiny town. A.B. and I bonded over not drinking too much as many people party.
In the morning we awoke to a heavy breakfast at the Hmong House Sapa:
Frederico and Marco invited me some black coffee from Italy. They brought their coffeemaker all the way from Milan - haha - devotion!
Then, A.B. and T.B. invited me to trek/hike with them. My hair bushy and unwashed I said "Let's gooo!" T.B. and I had not woken in time to run, but oh well.
in the next few hours, we got lost in the bamboo forest, local villagers chased us to sell us trinkets, I met two Hawaiians, chased my rain coat down a waterfall, laughed and smiled with water buffalo and I fell in the MUD.
Yes I fell in the mud... like a movie. I was wearing all white and using a dark green jacket. I was nasty!
When we returned I Asian squatted and scrubbed my white
Hokas covered in mud. Took me a while and then AB and TB invited me to lunch down the hill. I ordered a scrumptious steamed tofu and veggie dish while they ate ham and cheese sandwiches LOL.
We went back to the homestay, after walking past ducks, chicken, dogs and a sweet girl asking for candy and then I packed. We laughed as Timo passed around coca cola and snickers candies! haha
As people arrived home, I said my goodbyes, packed, showered off more of the mud, met a fellow American working at Yosemite and regrettafully left.
The rest of the night, I had dinner with the Laura from Brazil, Seongming from South Korea, YN from the Netherlands and funny enough, the guy with the orange jacket from Australia/New Zealand from the night before. We ate a restaurant popular with tourists where the manager kept saying, hey BROOOOOO. I was dead... he was Bro-ing all of us!
I had Banh Xeo (Baan See-Oh) and then we walked through the SaPa fog. It had become so foggy! Two people had to catch buses and as JN and I chilled at the Megaview hostel/homestay, we met so many more wild people sharing stories of travelling for the first time or travelling the world, like hiking Mt. Everest, or hooking up! haha
I was so hungry I wanted the local roasted nuts, and walked all the way up while we were talking to get them. Upon arrival, I ordered some nuts and this lady started bursting out laughing! She couldn't stop... so we started laughing for about 5 minutes! In the middle of the street, nonetheless!
I woke up and met a Spaniard, Italian and Morroccan (who knew my friend Rebecca), we chatted about diving in Spanish and English and travel.
Then I called one of the tuk tuk drivers I befriended and he drove me through the dangerous fog.
First stop was this communist themed cafe recommended by Seongming. I wasn't impressed as they served me noodles from a packet haha.
Then I got more nuts for the road but they were black and over heated. Don't let them heat up your nuts from the side of the road! They get tooo hard (TWSS, TWHS) haha.
I bought a snack Laura taught me about using the local nuts, a Vietnamese version of Filipino hopa with bean and cashew inside. It was so sweet and delicious.
Then I boarded a Hello Kitty bus back to Hanoi. While, boarding the driver started scolding me!
Driver, "#### #### #### ####."
Me. "Excuse me, sorry I don't understand"
Bus Manager. "Sir, stop shouting at him and me, leave him alone in Tieng Viet."
Bus Manager to me. "He said, bringing your Vietnamease hat on board is bad luck, can you leave it under the bus?"
Me. "I was pissed, I had already broken one years ago." but I conceded.
Off went my hat under the bus! and me to Hanoi holding a Hello Kitty animal and stretching out in my cabin!
More pics on Instagram: