On our last morning in Sapa, still feeling the jet lag, we rose early, and the Missus decided that She wanted to take a "short hike" down to the waterfalls near Cat Cat Village. With our last "short hike" still fresh in my mind, I was a bit hesitant. But this turned out to not be too bad. To reach the trail down to Cat Cat Village, you walk through the Sapa Market, and down the road. The early morning view of the misty valley is breathtaking.
After paying admission at the entry booth, you start heading down the well paved road. Young Xe Om drivers stop as you head down the hill, each one lobbying for the ride back up the hill. "Mister, I'm Coca-cola(tugging his coke hat), you remember me for later ok?" "I'm Lucky Strike(showing me his lucky strike T-shirt), maybe I give you ride back. You remember me ok?" And so forth. Luckily, we arrived early, and the cool morning air made everything much more pleasant.
Instead of heading through Cat Cat Village we just stayed on the main road, eventually crossing this bridge.
There are two or three different trails that lead around the hills. After passing several fields growing Indigo plants, we ended up at the falls, and the bridge that crosses the river. It's a nice place to take a break.
If we headed across the bridge, we'd have looped through Cat Cat Village.
Weary of the "hard sell" we decided to turn around and head back.
We were lucky to have had an early start. We passed large groups of tourists making their way down the road. It was a nice little morning hike.
Famished from our morning walk, we noticed a quaint looking little shop just down the street from the hotel. This was in the opposite direction of most of the businesses in Sapa, so the street was a bit quieter.
The place was called Drop & Drop Restaurant. We walked in and had a seat. When it came to ordering, the Missus still wanted more vegetables. So we started with the Mixed Vegetables(10,000 VND - about 60 cents/US).
I had decided to try one meat dish, and settled on the H'mong Style Beef(24,000 VND - $1.50/US):
The dish arrived on a sizzling plate, well seasoned, and pretty tender. The meat had a good beefy flavor, and was much better than I thought it would be.
The story of the next dish was interesting. I recalled seeing the wonderful watercress in the Sapa Market, and was happy to see stir fried watercress on the menu. When I ordered it, the Young Lady took a long pause, and looked at us, and said; "okay, we can do that!" While we were eating our stir-fried vegetables, a Girl entered the restaurant carrying a bundle of fresh green watercress, which was stir fried, and made its way to our table a few minutes later.
Fresh, crisp, slightly bitter, with a hint of sweetness this was quite good (16,000 VND - $1).
After our meal, I managed to arrange for a late check-out with the hotel($9). Soon enough the day passed and we caught our Bus back to Lao Cai.(31,000 VND/each)
In Vietnam they don't tell you anything Part 2:
Now it gets a bit strange. We arrive at Lao Cai, but instead of stopping at the Train Station, we stop in front of a restaurant. The Driver gets out and announces, "okay, everybody, you stop here and eat before you get on train." Huh? Not getting a good explanation as to what was going on and unable to get any information, we crossed the street, and walked over to Lao Cai Station.
We knew we had to exchange our tickets for boarding passes, but where was the question of the day. As we head to the train station, we see the "Guy with 3 wives" sitting with a young lady at one of the juice stalls in front of the train station. So I ask very innocently, "Is this your wife?" And he gives me a weird look and say, "no, no, we are not married." I dunno, working on wife #4 perhaps? After asking around a bit, the Missus figures out where we exchange our tickets. We had to go 2 blocks from the train station, into another restaurant, and up to the second floor to a desk to exchange our tickets for boarding passes. I'd say they've got a bit of a racket going.
After buying a few oranges we settled in. I noticed a couple looking confused, and disoriented, just like we were 30 minutes ago. I went up to see if I could help them out. They turned out to be tourists from France. I had gotten to them a bit late. They had just paid someone $5 to get their tickets exchanged. I dunno, but I don't think I'd hand my train tickets over to some stranger.....
Soon after sunset, our train was called, and the huge mass of humanity boarded the train. Just as on our train ride to Sapa, we thanked Beach for making sure we had an entire 4 berth to ourselves. Not much sleep tonight, but lots of excitement. Tomorrow night we'd be in Siem Reap!