I was reluctant to visit Sapa. For all the obvious taking-myself-too-seriously reasons. I try not to be one of those tourists who says a place is ruined by tourists, but, you know. I wanted to walk the mountains of Northern Vietnam – just in a more obscure, harder to reach, led by unicorns kind of way. Minority unicorns with fair trade handicrafts and a community based not for profit.
But while the Sapa town was just about everything I thought it would be, the mountains surrounding it are still amazing. Still virtually deserted. Yes, you get accompanied on every leg by a group of local village women who end the hike with the most convincing sales pitch of all time. But these women were ballsy, hilarious and bloody hard working. It was hard not to love them. And be grateful every time they stopped me falling into a ditch.
And our home stay definitely wasn’t a home stay. But it was hilarious, the food was sensational and the beer was just as I like it: freezing cold and watered down. We slept under six inch thick blankets to the sound of Vietnamese pop and rain pounding on the tin roof. Taunting us with tomorrow’s mud. With Brutus and Queen of Sheeba (possibly not their real names) guarding the door. Barking at the wind.