Tenth Day - Trek and H'mong Mountain Retreat 11/10/10

Posted on Fri 12 November 2010 in Trip to Vietnam • 6 min read

Sumner:
Today I woke up and was surprised to see that I was in a house with wood boards above me. I was the last one to wake up because the family was awake at five and mom didn't get much sleep so she was up and Hannah just was awake. I got out of bed and went to the fire. They had already started making breakfast, so we just sat around waiting. Then our hostess got out a frying pan and got the batter she had been making and made these pancake-ish things. While it was cooking Sume (if you read the last post you heard about her) arrived, for she would be taking us back to Sapa (and we didn't know this at the time but to take us to Ta Van). Once all the pancakes were cooked, we sat down to eat. I am going to tell you this now so I don't have to later (pretty good reason, right?) The hotel supplied the food for us at the homestay so that is why we had all that food at dinner and why we were having pancakes for breakfast. The pancakes were not what we think as pancakes. They were, as Hannah described it, rubbery. I thought that they were defiantly not prime and mom didn't think much of them either. We had banana, honey, and sugar to go with it. We started to eat one, but after about half of it Hannah started to make faces and looking longingly at the rice that Sume and the hostess were eating. I guess that they must have seen her doing that so they asked if we would like to have rice with them. It was just the left-overs from the night before but it still was very good. After breakfast we packed up our bags and hung out for a minute until Sume said it was time to leave. We went into the town that we had lunch in and got in a van to go back to Sapa. As we were leaving we saw big tour bus filled with people and we were very grateful that mom had planned all the transportation beforehand and that she had planned the trip so we did the trip by ourselves instead of with an enormous group. When we got back to Sapa I made that quick post, shot an email to Oma (that's what we call our grandma) and Skyped dad. Then we set out on another trek. We were fortunate to be with Sume again for the trek. We started out down the road going to Ta Van. We had been walking on the road for about an hour when we met up with Sume's cousin's group (Sume's cousin is also a tour guide for Sapa Rooms) and met a young couple and one set of parents. We went on and were a little ahead of them when Sume's cousin called out to our guide and said that she wanted to go together so our groups merged and we made friends. After a little while we saw a truck that had overturned on the highway that in the US would be a one lane road but here in Vietnamese is a 8 lane highway! Ok I exaggerated but it actually was a highway with two lanes and could be 3 lanes if two cars were going and a motorcycle wanted to go in-between them! A little after we saw the wreck we stopped for a rest. Hannah and I ran up and down from where we were sitting to a power pole. There were step-like things that looked like they were supposed to be rice paddies but didn't get finished. They were good obstacles but since I have longer legs it was easier for me so I won almost every time. After that we went on down and when I say down I mean down. We walked a little ways and arrived at a little bamboo bridge made of two bamboo poles. It was easy for our guides, the sales ladies (I didn't tell you but we had accumulated good deal of girls trying to sell us things), and Hannah and I to cross. But the older people had some trouble making it across. Luckily for us it was at most one yard long. We walked along some terraced rice patties and then across one of the retaining walls and then down some more. We walked across one more bamboo bridge and went a little way and then arrived at a quarry. If dad had been there he would have been able to tell you what kind of rock it was but all that I can tell you is that the rocks were white. We walked through the quarry (nothing was going on) and went down a hill. About have way down we saw a big digger thingy and a car that was smashed on the treads! We were thinking that these guys definitively didn't get the safety award for the year! We got to the bottom of the hill and went across the bridge. To the right of the bridge was the old bridge which was closed but not very well, for, you could still go on the bridge. After we crossed the bridge we went to a restaurant to eat and then headed on. The rest of the way was just small villages and beautiful views of the valley with terraced rice paddies. There was one incident that I will tell you about though. We stopped at a large shop and Sume asked if we wanted to buy anything. Mom said that we would look and see what the prices were like. Well we went in and realized that there were no prices because in Vietnam they look at you and if you look like you have a lot of money then the price goes up about two to three times! Whereas if you look poor then you get a lower price! Once they tell you a price you must bargain for it no matter what it is, chopstick, you bargain for it, little donuts that are being sold to you on the streets of Hanoi, you bargain for the little donuts. You bargain for literally everything except food at a restaurant. Once we looked we walked on to Ta Van. In Ta Van all of the group, us and the Australian/English group (I forgot to tell you where they were from) hopped into the van and went up to the mountain retreat. The other group got out to look around and then headed back to Sapa. We stayed and were directed to our room. After we set our luggage down, we explored the retreat. There were, I think, five little bungalows (maybe six) and one but H'mong house. There was also a big house that was on stilts where we would have our meals. The big H'mong house one was the one that we were going to stay in. It had three rooms and a balcony. When you went in you were in the living room it was basically a brick floor and two wood benches and a table in the middle of the floor. On one of the rafters there was some corn for decoration. On the right of that room was a bedroom with two beds and a lamp and to he other side was one big bed. After our explorations we had some rest and then after a while went to go eat. We went to the house on stilts to go eat and were directed upstairs (they used the bottom level as a relaxation place). We sat at a table that was made of logs so that it was hard to put water and food on the table. Dinner was delicious but it was way to big for the four of us (we ate with Mrs. Elsa Marie, the Danish lady).
Let me tell you what the resort was like. The H'mong Mountain Retreat was extremely beautiful, probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. The bungalows were on stilts over the terraced rice paddies. If you looked down the mountain you had a wonderful view of the many rice paddies. Behind the rice fields was the town that we crossed the bridge on. And behind them was a splindid view and the mountains. The place was totally wonderful.
Ok back to the story. After dinner we sat and talked with Mrs. Elsa Marie and then went to our house (it sounds kinda weid to say because it wasn't our house but... You get the point) to get ready for bed. I fell asleep almost instantly and didn't wake up until late the next morning.

Announcements:
Check out the post called "Airplane to Seoul" if you haven't already. I forgot to publish it until just a few days ago.