Vietnam #4 Trekking, or not

Vietnam #4

Day three trekking – or not

At the river

At the river

Louis at the river

Louis at the river

We woke to the roosters in Ban Ho, news blasting from speakers mounted throughout the village, sore muscles and blisters. Counting our blessings that we were not part of a larger group, we wussed out and skipped the third day of trekking. Like the past two days, it was in the 90s. So, instead, we hiked down to the river, soaked our tired feet and practiced our meditation and yoga on the rocks.

It was a perfect morning. Eventually, we went back for our backpacks, said our goodbyes and took a minivan back to Sapa.

Rachelle at the river

Rachelle at the river

The drive was not pretty. The road conditions are miserable. Don’t know how our French friends did it on the backs of motorbikes… Our driver was terrific, avoiding the bikes, people, pigs and oxen, but there was nothing to be done about the ruts and washed out pavement. After an hour, we made it back to Sapa and were treated to lunch by Louis and his girlfriend. She has a one room place in town, and prepared a lovely, three course meal for us. I am continually impressed what one can do with one burner and a rice cooker.

Our lunch as guests of Louis and his girlfriend

Our lunch as guests of Louis and his girlfriend

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Our terrific lunch – and Louis

Cooking for us

Cooking for us

Somewhere along the way, I realized we did not have the name and address of our Hanoi hotel. Louis tracked it down, wrote it out, and saved us from a “Lost in Translation” experience.

With a few hours left before the bus to Lao Cai and the overnight train to Hanoi, we found a place for an herbal soak and massage. I’m still learning to be very clear on what services are offered for what price and for how long… My masseuse was very good, and though the 90 minutes were up in an hour, I felt restored.

…Until the bus ride back to Lao Cai, that was hell. The driver somehow decided to get us down the mountain 10 minutes faster than scheduled. In the process, making us all miserable, and risking our lives.  I’ve been on lots of busses on steep windy mountain roads in lots of countries. I was pretty convinced this might have been my last. When we finally got back, I thought the guy next to me was going to punch out the driver. Rachelle almost lost her lunch. I took pictures of the bus number just in case I ever decide to complain.

Relieved, we waited for the guy who was to meet us, show us around …., suggest a place for dinner and get us to the train. He never showed, which did not matter, except that we spent the time waiting instead of walking around. Still, we were looking forward to our sweet little cabin on the train. Turns out, we had been downgraded on the return. Disappointed, but making the best of it, we settled in for the night ride back to Hanoi. We spent the night laughing at our predicament and not really sleeping.

When we got off the train at 4am, I remembered to bargain for a cab and paid the proper fare back to La Belle Vie Hotel where there was no room available for early check-in! Our problem was that we were set to go on a day tour of the city at 8am, and we had not showered. Our plan was to commandeer the lobby bathroom and wash our hair in the sink.

We hung out in the lobby until 6:30AM, then went down for breakfast. We shared a table with two women from Bangkok and shamelessly told them of our predicament, hoping they would let us use their shower. They had already turned in their key so we thanked them and I went back to the desk to see if anything had changed. A minute later,  Rachelle came running up with their key. They got it back for us, let us into the room, and saved us. We call them our Thai Angels. Twenty minutes later, we were clean and much, much happier.