Off to the hill tribes we go. We rocked into Hanoi at 8am in the morning after a slightly better overnight bus from Hue. We immediately booked our trip up to Sapa for later on that night and spent the day in Hanoi. That night we caught a sleeper train to Sapa arrived at 5am and an then another hour in a minivan up the mountain to Sapa. A quick bit of breakfast and then we were off walking with our guide Be. We were ‘accompanied’ along the way by about 20 of the local village folk who’s village we were going to. It was a really cool experience chatting to the locals as we trekked to their village. We started out in the cloud and rain which only started to let up once we got downhill a bit. Some of the tracks that they brought us down were seriously dodgy, with all the rain and moisture around it made going downhill a pretty hairy ride. At one point a french gentleman in our group lost his footing and gained a bit of momentum that nearly had half the group all going down together, but the little local women (and I mean little – all less thn 5ft tall) saved the day and stopped certain injuries. From then on it was funny to see that most people had one or two ‘helpers’ to bring them down to the village. I got a little cocky not needing anyones help and started follow the locals down at their pace and route. Of course this ended in disastor and I ended up with one leg firmly stuck in whats known locally as buffalo chocolate or buffalo shit to you and me! All the locals were wetting themselves laughing at me but sure all you can do is laugh with ’em.
The next day we picked up a new guide ‘Zi’ who was a 16 year old local girl from a new village. She brought us to the next village called CatCat and it beautiful waterfall. This ‘trek’ was a bit of a sham, as the locals had lined that walk to the waterfall with an endless stream of shops selling the usual tourist tat. But the walk back up from the waterfall was a bit better and we took a different route back running alngside the local paddy fields. Zi and Lisa became instant friends and by the end of it both lisa and herself had matching indigo blue hands as she demonstrated to us how the locals extracted the indigo dye they use to colour their hemp clothing.

That afternoon, we headed to the local markets on our own to see what was going on. We were wandering through th ‘meat’ section checking out the live fish for sale in bowls of water, the rows of chicken feet sticking aimlessly up in the air when Lisa turned to me and said “What’s that over there?” I turned to discover a rather large dog that had been skinned and prepared for cutting up. As soon a we got sight of it the local shop owner covered it up so as not to attract the disgust of more tourists. To our surprise its quite a delicacy here and lots of people eat it . There’s quite a few restarants that just specialise in dog meat. Needless to say we didn’t try it!