My childhood wish was always to plant my feet on Sapa, a mountain in northern Vietnam. The top of Sapa is Fansipan peak at 3,147m altitude. 2 years ago over a couple of autum days I was able to make my childhood wish come true.
Uneven roads, motorbikes, mobile phones and total reliance on a local guide is how the journey started. While getting gas we accidently meet some Red Dao women (an ethnic minority in Vietnam) who invited us to visit their village – Ta Phin. Our original plan was immediately abandoned to spontaneously follow these women to their hometown. The lesson I’ve learned from this is that planning can be change at any point in an adventure.
The motorbike curves along the trail less than 1m wide up and down slopes making my heart dance kizomba as we make our way to the village. Adventure and fear mix into the same feeling and I feel excited to seek a fresh getaway from the busy days at work. She took us to a Red Dao herbal bath and dove into the cave with us. Sometimes she would show off her English to communicate with foreign tourists who passed by. How amazing in this woman could be: strong & smart.
Finally she invited us to her home and treated us to a delicious meal. Her house had a wood stove in the middle of the house, a baby crying, and little cute cats – truly “Dao’s home”. We talked over dinner, and she shared how she makes a living. She makes brocade (fabric stitching), grows rice, and even gives tours for money, but this always depends on weather so during winter there are fewer opportunities to make money.
I walked away from that experience really impressed that village culture can still live in this community on top of a mountain in these little wooden houses. Amazing terraces, new indigenous culture plus cozy weather resulted in a memorable and special Sapa experience for me. Better than what I dreamed of as a child.