Here’s another summary from this year’s major travels, Backpacking Northern Vietnam. Northern Vietnam offers variety of scenic areas from the UNESCO heritage site of Ha Long Bay to the Old Charm of Hanoi’s Old Quarters and the wondrous treks in the highlands of Sapa Valley. Here’s our basic summary and some tips from this backpack travel.
After an afternoon spent hopping through the villages of Sapa, we went back to town and had a wonderful food find. Just at the back of the public market is a new bali inspired restaurant and lodging where we tried an ala mode carrot and banana cake with home made ice cream. Their carrot cake was one of the best we tasted. Went back to our lodging for a short rest for dinner. Tomorrow we’ll head back to Lao Cai in the afternoon and the next day would be our last day in Vietnam.
Driving around the Sapa Valley slopes at the back of a motorcycle is exhilarating as we cut through the cool mountain air. Aside from that, the view of the cloud shrouded mountains and the impressive terraces of the valley is astounding. We were headed to one of the first ethnic hill side villages in the valley, the Cat Cat Village.
Just like the Ifugao Region in our country, Sapa, Vietnam also boasts of scenic mountain views and rice terraces. Though it’s a wide spread practice among our Asian neighbors, this rice irrigation system that turns mountain slopes into scenic stairways to the sky have unique beauty in each country. Sapa Rice Terraces crawls picturesquely in the region’s valley.
After a long 9 hour overnight train ride from Hanoi to Lao Cai and another hour van ride up the mountains from Lao Cai, we found ourselves at the elevation of 1650m above sea level at mountainous Sapa Village, Vietnam. We were having breakfast at the Little Gecko, a pleasant small restaurant at the side street near the plaza. It was just opening that morning that chairs and tables were still being arranged by the lone staff. It’s funny how she just left us all alone the restaurant to buy/get the needed ingredients for our 30,000 VND breakfast meal.
I enjoy taking train rides. I think because it’s one of those means of transportation that’s not really prevalent in use here in the Philippines. Well, there’s the PNR (Philippine National Railways) alright which I have yet to try but I think it there are still a lot of work to be done there. Maybe one of these days I would try that. I was looking forward to our 9-hour train to Lao Cai that night since we’ll be sleeping in a soft-berth room. And from Lao Cai we’ll be heading of to Sapa.
We arrived late in the afternoon in Hanoi, coming back from Ha Long Bay. We stayed for a while at the Handspan office to rest and confirm our train tickets for the night. We are set to take the night train to Sapa that evening as well. Since we had some time to kill, we decided to do a brief walk around the Old Quarters. Pretty busy street, mostly of low rise houses with old French facades. Would have been great to take a lot of photos but it was sun down already and the way the things those motos drive by, it’s kinda hard to take out your cameras in the streets. For dinner that night we decided to eat at Vietnam’s oldest restaurant which opened in 1871, Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant.