Vietnam: Cinnamon Tea in Sapa

We wake up quite late considering how early we went to sleep. Sleeping at 7:30 made me think I’d be up and about by 4am but no, I sleep for almost 12 hours. I guess I needed it!

We take a quick walk to the village general store, which sells bottled water and a couple treats at a highly inflated price. I get it though, carrying all that stuff 7km isn’t easy. We cross a pretty dodgey rusty old suspension bridge on our way.

Song prepares our breakfast which consists of rice, baby bamboo shoots, and green beans. Delicious yet again.

Before we’re finished packing up to leave, Song offers to let us try on her clothing and take photos if we’d like. I WOULD like, but Song is like a size negative 3. Tamara and Ryka manage to squeeze into her tiny clothing though!


I pull Song aside and pay her quickly before Mark and Ryka notice I’m gone. I want to stay true to my promise not to tell them how little we’re paying…even though I’m super proud of the deal we got. She gives Tamara and I a gift; a small silver bracelet made in her village. All the women wear arm fulls of them!

The little fabric bracelet was a gift from her children.

We thank Song a million times and hug her goodbye. I wish I could explain to her what an amazing experience this was for me. It’s so incredible to have the opportunity to see how other people live. Especially Song and her family, in such a small simple house with no running water, very little material possessions, in a remote village, but with the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. Living simply really does make you happier. While I’m happy to have a solid home and a hot shower, I find it really refreshing to know that people can live so happily without these things. Song gave me something I could never have received on a generic tour. It was a genuine experience and this is why I like to travel. This is what I search for.

Song takes Mark and Ryka on a hike to another village, because they’ve arranged to stay for three days. Tamara and I say our goodbyes and head up the hill half an hour before finding a main road. From there we ask some locals which direction to go to find Sapa, and head on our way. It’s a much faster walk to follow to road, only about 3km. If we took the route from yesterday we would surely get lost!

Once in Sapa life gets pretty boring. We arrive around noon and have to wait until 6pm for the night bus. Please kill me. We do a bit of a café-hopping in order to charge our phones and use the wifi without overstaying our welcome. It’s a cold and rainy day, so the last thing we want to do is wander around town with our big backpacks on…we prefer Vietnamese cinnamon tea in a cozy café.

Somehow the time does actually pass, and it’s finally time for us to board the sleeper bus. It’s over-booked, as per usual in South East Asia, but we are early enough to snag a bed. We don’t get to sit anywhere near each other, but I plan to spend 90% of my time sleeping anyway. Two poor suckers get stuck sleeping on the floor of the bus between the rows of beds. I watch people jump over them on numerous occasions just to access the washroom. No one is happy about it.

The ride is bumpy, but doesn’t feel as long as the drive there. When I wake up I’m surprised to hear that we’re already in Hanoi.

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