Today as we look out over the Sa Pa Valley the mist is very dense and we can only see white. Yesterday, when the weather was fine, our Hotel is ‘hanging’ off the side of a cliff and we can see most of the valley we have walked around in the last two days. We have breakfast, which is not the best we have had on this great tour of Vietnam, and are picked up at 8:00am for the long 100km drive to Bac Ha. I say ‘long’ because it takes over 3 hours. There is a short 10km section of divided road but the rest is steady going although the road surface is smooth most of the way.
Bac Ha market is the largest market in the area, situated in the small town of Bac Ha. Each Sunday morning, it is literally a riot of color as many different ethnic groups such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung minorities, gather to buy and sell. We spend 2 hours exploring the interesting market, where ‘anything’ is available. From textile wear to handcrafts, food, raw meat (guts and pig head included). The non-vegetarians amongst us become instant vegetarians for lunch. There is a ‘live’ market too. Chickens, ducks, dogs, cock fighters, geese, and water buffalo. Lyn and I buy ‘nothing’ although we are pressured many times, “Buy from me?” The quality of the handcrafts is good and durable but our suitcases are full and heavy. We see a guy having a haircut and his nostril hair cut was included.
We find a place to have lunch at a ‘tourist’ restaurant. The vegetarian set menu is the request – yes, there is omelet included, again. If eggs are aphrodisiac, then we will need to put out the ‘Please Do Not Disturb’ sign on our return home.
Leaving Bac Ha, we wind down the valley to a stop where we leave the van and start a 30 minute walk through a farming area and to a canoe pickup point. The canoe is iron with a motor on the end of a shaft. The steering is in the method you move the shaft around. We make our way down the Chay River and experience the picturesque scenes on the riverbanks. They are ‘mining’ sand from the river. We then re-join our van towards Lao Cai and visit the boarder to China. There are people carting large loads of cargo across the bridge, from China into Vietnam. Perhaps the loads contain ‘copy-cat’ products for sale in Vietnam.
We have a meal in a restaurant in Lao Cai before boarding the ‘first class’ express to Hanoi at 8:00pm. We ‘stuff’ ourselves into our room and take up the sleeping position for 8-9 hours.