Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Light hiking and heavy shopping Sapa, Vietnam, Saturday, 24 March 2007 8:00pm

We set off on our mini-trek at a very civilized 9:30am. Our guide, Thế, was friendly and knowledgeable. We rode a short distance in an aging Russian (? the instrument panel was in Cyrillic, at least) jeep. We were mobbed at the trailhead by children offering to sell us bamboo hiking poles. Thế told us that we wouldn't need the poles and that the kids were skipping school to sell them, so we just started down the trail.

It was a slippery, muddy descent to the floor of the Hoang Lien valley, but not very hard going. We passed down between the terraces, stopping to take pictures of the hillsides and the water buffalos and goats that were hanging out on them. We saw a terrace being cleared and re-formed by a Hmong woman and two children.

We passed through the Hmong villages of Y Ling Ho and Lao Chai, and the larger D'Zay village of Ta Son (??). Just before Y Ling Ho, we got to see the 300W water generator that powers the village and cross over a little red suspension bridge. The climate, the hills, and a miniature Golden Gate Bridge remind me of home. Jessica was greeted by Hmong women trying to sell her textiles, who kept after her, though she tried to aim them at me, since I'm the one who's looking for souvenirs.

The D'Zay are on the national power grid. It seems like every second house has a satellite dish. Thế says that people will skimp on food to be able to buy a TV.

On the way out of town, we we greeted by Xi, a woman who was very interested in how old I was, and whether Jessica was my wife, and since she was not, whether I had a wife. Since I hadn't saved Jessica from the textile sellers, Jessica left me to fend off the aspiring matchmaker. Luckily, we were back at the Jeep before I could be introduced to the eligible young women of the town.

After a slightly bumpy ride, including a stream crossing, we were back in Sapa. We decided to change our plans for tomorrow. Thế told us that the market in Bac Ha is very touristy now, so we arranged to go the other direction to Bíng Lư.

Saturday is a big market day in Sapa, but we may have missed most of it by being away for the morning. When we returned to the market areas, they weren't that much busier than they'd been yesterday. Our first stop was to pick up a traditional native backpack/basket for Jessica (who'd been coveting one) then to fill it up with various local handicrafts, mostly textiles. Not very surprisingly, it's hard to find the local clothing in my size. After trying on many things, I did find a Hmong shirt and a Black Dao jacket with metal decorations.


chuxor Tuesday, 03 April 2007 6:01am

I think it's Giay, not D'Zay. At least, according to Lonely Planet.

aneel Tuesday, 03 April 2007 8:43am

I get the feeling that transliterations from the ethnic minority languages aren't standardized yet. I think the "D'Zay" spelling was what was used on the sign near the village entrance (next to the pond that the baby chick was being rescued from). "Giay" seems like a transliteration for Vietnamese speakers (who'd pronounce "gi" gs "z"), rather than English speakers.