Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 2 Sapa

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Continued from
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 1

    DAYS 5 & 6 SAPA playing tourist
    A tweaking of the master plan – slow down, look at things, meet some people & learn something.

    Arriving in Sapa after 5 days on the road in the heat & smoke was like arriving at exquisite oasis in the desert. Sapa was green & cool from the altitude 1,500 metres. It was also time to get some laundry done, although Armin was not concerned with a claimed 17 “fresh” T-shirts in his kit bag for the trip.
    Sapa is an old French hill station, nestled among the Hoang Lien Son mountains near the Chinese border. Because of its location near the highest mountain range in Vietnam, it is probably the most scenic mountain location in Vietnam.

    The morning view from my Darling hotel room
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    Breakfast & some coffee to help savour the view & contemplate making a decision on what to do for the day.
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    Sapa town & surrounding areas have hordes of very colourful hill tribes – ethnic minorities - waiting to practice their English, ask about your family & life, plus make a souvenir sale. I enjoyed my time talking to them, but it was sad how their life had become a full time zoo.
    There are a couple of standard tourist routes you can do from Sapa to visit the ethnic minorities down in the valleys, not too far from Sapa city. You can hike there, go by mini bus & get dropped off to walk down, or ride your motorbike. We rode of course.

    Queued up for fuel in Sapa
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    Morning fog
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    Sapa - Cat Cat. The Sapa ethnic minority tourist trail # 1.
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    all downhill & a semi-enjoyable tourist trap it is. But it is possible to enjoy the views, the people & yourself.

    On the road to the ethnic minorities at Cat Cat
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    If you walked you were guaranteed a full ethnic minority escort sales team, constantly bantering with you. They were good, knew all the lines & were fun, most of the time.
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    you could not get lost because you were never alone.

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    A fully equipped sales team
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    en route to link up with the army

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    Surrounded
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    The hiking trail
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    & not quite my favourite Africa Twin road

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    Back on the good stuff
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    Lunch for the lads
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    I went off looking for photos
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    Linked up with the locals
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    The way home - back to Sapa city
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    Sapa City
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    perched on the side of a mountain

    Downtown
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    Vehicle inspection time
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    SAPA CITY

    The Sapa Tourist Office
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    One of the main beauties of Sapa is the location by the lake
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    The colourful narrow streets, lined with restaurants & hotels / guesthouses are also attractive
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    to be continued..
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
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  3. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    Fantastic report gents and some stunning photos

    thanks

    T
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    SAPA CITY
    A delightful hill town, that I'd like to take happy-go-lucky to visit for a few days break from hot & polluted Chiang Mai.

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    A viewpoint overlooking the city, that I observed from faraway. There must be a lot of steps.....next time.
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    Sapa's booming & fast becoming an international tourist destination. The amount of construction going on for new hotels & restaurants is incredible. Many of them are literally being cut out of the side of the mountain.
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    Something different
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    A donut home delivery service?
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    NIGHT TIME
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    The night market is a major attraction in town
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    I enjoyed hanging out in the night market one of the nights we were able to stay in Sapa
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    The food was good, fresh & cheap; & satisfied me.
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    Difficult to tire of the view when staying at the Darling hotel in Sapa
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    Stay there, you won't regret it!
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  5. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    This part bothered me. Not so much around town, but when we went to the "tourist village", for lack of a better name.

    Admission was charged and you had to pass through a gate.
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    Those that arrive by van or bus, and didn't have a motorcylce (that meant everyone but us), had to walk through the "village" while receiving a sales pitch the whole way.
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    This family opened their home and allowed us to have a look at how they live.
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    Is this tourism good for them and allowing them to lead a better life and bring up their families?
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    Are they happy? Or, are they being demeaned and living in a zoo?
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    I am sure there are many different opinions on this one. :think:

    BTW: Good shots of Sapa David. :clap:
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DAYS 5 & 6 SAPA playing tourist continued

    The other ethnic minority tourist trail goes to Ta Phin north of Sapa.

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    these terraced rice fields would look fantastic at the right time of the year.

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    Boys will be boys
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    A captivating beauty
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    and not one of the ethnic minorities, but a Hanoi tourist.

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    We actually got into a "hill tribe" house.
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    and not a great deal different to those in North Thailand
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    just another poor Hmong home, but you have to wonder how come the locals aren't getting much out of the masses of tourists visiting. Selling a few souvenirs would hardly seem satisfactory.

    Sad really....
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    I'll have to go back after the wet season
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    These kids loved the AT & it's impressive size.
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    But in reality the AT would be no match for the local two-wheeled beast?
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    Go to Part 3 Bac Ha
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 3 Bac Ha
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  7. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Hi David and & Lads

    It has been beautiful reading these 2 trip reports and have to say that is't intresting and contrivesial how the locals do not benefit of mass tourism bt that is one of the communism main rules,, money will end up with gov.

    But politic aside

    Very nice pictures, beautiful sceenery and roads, and loks like in the sometime in future, roads will be in good condition there as well.

    Then David,, you guys must have huge paper work to be done in advance to make that trip possible,, would you mind to give so light of that,,
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Marco
    Thanks for the compliments. I had a great time & enjoyed myself as you can see; & I would have liked another 4 days at least.
    Regarding permits that is coming at the end of the report, after you've endured my / our photos. I'm half way there & re-living the whole trip as I go. :) :)
     
  9. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Marco
    Thanks for the compliments. I had a great time & enjoyed myself as you can see; & I would have liked another 4 days at least.
    Regarding permits that is coming at the end of the report, after you've endured my / our photos. I'm half way there & re-living the whole trip as I go. :) :)

    Hi David

    Looking forward for the "Next" episodes matey...

    and see you in franz house party if you coming..
     
  10. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Hi David & mates

    Nice report and beautiful photos. Keep them coming as I'm anxious to know more about the trip and paperwork
    required for the ride. Hopefully one day in the near future I can do a trip from north to south there.

    Warmest regards
    & Happy Songkran..........

    Lip Meng
     
  11. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Great places, people and pictures ... when do they open this trail to commoners ? I know that the road can be done from Hanoi with local (old) bikes but the way from Chiangmai with own bike is really tempting :)
     
  12. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    David, the first fotos in this posts had my jaw drop, what stunning scenery and beautiful landscape, view from your hotelroom marvellous !!!! This is something that you and Dave enjoyed I'm sure, much more than the first legs of 'stone to stone' riding. Dave how did the DR perform, seat uncomfy as mine, mileage ? Cheers, Franz
     
  13. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Franz-

    As far as I am concerned, the DR650 is probably near the perfect bike for this type of touring. The light weight and offroad ability is great in the crap sections and you can cruise at any reasonable speed (even the unreasonable speeds we did at points) with ease. The big single cylinder does give off a lot of heat in traffic, and David has commented on my riding with my right leg hanging off the peg at times.

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    My seat has a genuine (and expensive) Australian sheepskin cover with an extra layer of foam I put underneath (soft as a baby's bottom). Just blow the dust out with an air compressor when I get home. No problem. I usually figure about 22km/litre.
     
  14. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Wow Dave, 22km/lt that's really good, after me revamping exhaust, airbox, airfilter and carbs with DJ#2 set mine does just 15kms/lt but it also pulls like an ox. Once we meet, let's just swap and test each other's DR's. Ahh the pu... seat like Peter Dougal has on his FZ1..........5555555. Think my seat is still bigger than yours as older 'non-modified' version still, I also have the 17 liters tank still. Cheers, Franz
     
  15. saxonator

    saxonator Ol'Timer

    That is one heck of a report, really enjoyed it to the very utmost. Thanks for sharing this with us. Bon route!
     
  16. oldbloke

    oldbloke Ol'Timer

    Great writeup of this pioneering journey - and excellent pix!! Sapa has certainly changed since I was there in 1996...and the locals seem much more relaxed about being photographed: or was it your winning charm that had them lining up for the camera?

    Here's another interesting little blog - these folks hired their bikes out of Hanoi.
    http://despatchesfromhanoi.wordpress.co ... provinces/
    I think the BIG in the title refers to their conception of the trip, not the bikes... :D , but it's tiny compared to your marathon.
    There's a couple of other little stories of bike/scooter trips in the blog too...
     

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