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.
“Same Same… but different” is one of the popular quotes you’ll see and hear when you visit Vietnam. And it’s funny in much ways this is how I saw things as well during my recent visit to Northern Vietnam with my buddy Lagal[og]. I guess it’s one of those trips where I’m reminded more of home and really appreciate what we got. Don’t get me wrong, Vietnam and it’s natural wonders have a unique charm on their own, but I found it not that far being a neighboring country of the Philippines.