Day 4 (20 Nov 06)
Was woken up by strong winds at 5.00 a.m. It pounded the windows like a slow rhythmic Michael Jordan’s dribble. Rain then started to pour at 5.45 a.m. All my plans of catching some sunrise went up in flames. It was back to Uncle Chao for me.
Breakfast at 7.30 am. Met a French couple whom we saw the previous night in the restaurant. They were traveling with 3 beautiful girls, one of them, a toddler of probably a year old. Advised us that they have been traveling for a month. It is amazing to see the way these Europeans travel. They are so different from Asian parents who will forgo travel and remain grounded because of their kids.
The rain stopped but the mist kept drifting in and out with the mountains’ playing peek a boo
Assembled at 9.00 am. Had two Israeli couples joining us; Eli and Avi, David and Hadas. It was actually quite exciting as it our first time meeting Israelis up front. For them, it was also their first time encounter with Malaysians. They were both younger and looked much fitter than me. I always had this phobia of holding the crowd back if I were to join a trek and that looked liked happening.
Initially, there was a Belgium guy, Franz, who was together with us. Heard that he visited Kuala Lumpur and I politely asked him did he like it. He answered that it was horrible.
Both Eli & Avi were visibly horrified by his candid answer. I was pretty cool about it and I do appreciate an honest answer. Apparently Franz lost all his money when he was in Malaysia. No wonder he was so disgruntled with the mention of Kuala Lumpur.
Franz was later bumped off to another group when our cheerful trekking guide called Dinh discovered he was on a two day trek programme. Dinh nicknamed himself Ding Dong so that it was easier for the guests to remember his name.
Our destination were the Laochai and Tavan villages Enroute, we had to pass through several H’mong villages. At the beginning of the trek, we were greeted by 4 little angels. They wanted us to visit their village to buy their handicraft. Found out that all the little children whom we met along the trek are sent there by their families to get the trekkers to visit their villages. It is a full time job for them.
Despite being on the job, they are still children. Their innocence and sincerity shined through, unlike the street kids in Bangkok. Their sweet smiles really melt the heart.
We stopped for lunch at a hut where they served drinks. Dinh unloaded tons of sandwiches and fruits from his backpack. We were starving and we ravished the sandwiches with gusto. After gobbling down a couple of sandwiches, we realised that the tribal girls were standing in the rain waiting for us.
We asked them to come into the shed and we were informed by our guide that they were not allowed to. We then pass on to the girls part of our sandwiches which some of them ate but most of the just wrapped the sandwiches and store it inside their bags, either for consumption later or to bring home to their families.
Such an incident make one realise that there is a wrong different world out there. What we take for granted in our daily endearvours, these girls just do not have.
Made it a point to advise any one who is planning the Sapa trek, to bring along crayons, colour pencils, note books. Would be good gifts for these less fortunate children.
As we continued trekking, we came across Indigo farms, rice terraces, pig pens, wild pigs, buffaloes, chickens and ducks but the most amazing is the landscape. It is really beautiful landscape filled with rice terraces after rice terraces. Made the rice terraces in Banawe looked like a midget.
We arrived in the Tevan village without much effort and when Dinh asked us to look back from when we have trekked, we were awed by the terrain which we had gone through. I was personally shocked that I have managed to do the 6km trek up and down hilly terrain without much problem.
As a matter of fact, I was ahead of David and Hadas who were younger than me. Guess when the conditions are right and the adrenalin is flowing anyone could do wonders.
A van picked us up from the main road off the Tevan village and brought us back to Sapa. It was the end of a really amazing trek and one of my best experiences in life.
My fondest memory of the trek was the pretty young girl, who trekked with us throughout the 6 km in her slippers and with her umbrella.
5.00 p.m. – Arrived back in Sapa and the hotel could arrange to clean our shoes and return to us in the morning which was the most welcoming news as we were muddy, cold and wet.
We decided that we did not have enough and asked Dinh to take us on a biking tour the next day. Fortunately for us, Dinh is free. Eli and Avi were delighted to join us.
David and Hadas had to leave for Hanoi and we bid our farewell. Meanwhile, Eli and Avi invited us for dinner at a restaurant which served Israeli food. We, of course jumped at the chance to trying something new. We can’t imagine that we can get Israeli food in Hanoi, Vietnam, let alone in a small town like Sapa.
We had Satsuka. It is basically an omellete cooked with tomatoes. It was really excellent. Haven’t had this feeling of satisfaction from tasting something new since I tried my first Kebab in Amman, many years ago.
During dinner, Eli and Avi introduced us to Ben, an Israeli whose parents originated from Vietnam. Ben who was born in Israel, stood at about 6 feet tall and looked more like a tall Japanese than a Vietnamese or Israeli. All the propaganda back in Malaysia about Zionism are making us Malaysian totally ignorant of Israel. Actually not all Israelis are Jewish. They have a sizeable Christian and Arab population. They also have a minority population of Vietnamese immigrants.
When we asked Ben how he felt being Israeli, he was 100% proud to be Israeli even though he is a minority there and that he had no problem in discrimination. All these were new to us and for Eli, Avi and Ben, what we have in Malaysia is also new to them. What they know about Malaysia before meeting us is that it is a Muslim state and it is anti-Israel.
We adjourned for drinks at a pub next to the hotel. After 3 drinks, we call it the night so that we can wake up for our biking adventure. Retired that night at 11 pm while dreaming of trekking in Sapa.