Sapa in Northern Vietnam is the ultimate getaway for those looking for adventures into the Vietnamese countryside. This is evident from every person hawking homestay tours and every shop selling knockoff North Face products of every variety to assist you on your trek.
Hanna and I had booked a 2 day trek and homestay previously and still had zero concept of what we were doing. When we arrived in Sapa, where it was cold! (joyful but also not prepared at all 90% of suitcase is tanktops), we both began to grow concerned. When it started pouring rain the night before our trek started and we looked down at our Nike joggers with zero tread we started laughing at once again being woefully underprepared.
But despite the mud, our patchwork hiking gear complete with 1 dollar poncho pants for Hanna we had an absolutely amazing trek filled with so many oddities you’d think we were making it all up.
We trekked a total of 30 kilometers over two days going deep into the Vietnamese countryside through five isolated local villages and did a homestay in the ‘village’ of Seo Trung Ho where we were quite literally the outsiders. Seo Trung Ho is 18 kilometers from Sapa on winding dirt roads through the bamboo jungles and most people almost never leave the village. It was the definition of remote. Hanna and I along with our amazing trekking partners Laura and Neil from Ireland drank tea together staring out over rice paddies all marveling and laughing hysterically about where we found ourselves.
Our homestay was incredible and Mr. Kim and his wife Fo lo May spoke no english so our trusty trekking guide Tom (or Tam) had to be our translator. They made us an amazing and massive dinner and we all got very very intoxicated cheersing off their homemade rice wine (positively putrid//but after 3 shots of it the burning makes you numb).
Did I mention Mr. Kim was a shaman?
Mr. Kim asked Tam for all our birthdays and birth years and hours of birth and then he told us who we should marry and where our future was going. It was spooky and felt very real as we sat around a tiny table in a dark dark room with a small fire to keep us warm and heard our futures told to us in Vietnamese by a legit shaman with english translations. I suddenly feel very sure about where I am going. Thanks Mr. Kim.
We then danced into the wee hours of the night to Adele (praise) which was the official theme song of our trek. Hellooo from Sapa.
It was raining for the second day of our trek and the lot of us were all gruesomely hungover but we managed to climb the giant hill through the mud, avoid massive piles of buffalo dung and keep a positive attitude despite the inclement weather.
It was an absolutely incredible experience, one I will never forget. It was far away from the more ‘traditional’ tourist treks in Northern Vietnam or Sapa as our group was so small (only 4) we went much farther and stayed in a village with only one homestay option. The generosity was overwhelming and the entire experience was unbelievably positive. Wouldn’t change a thing…except maybe all the mud that has ruined my nike frees permanently. RIP nike frees. I could look at rice paddie fields for the rest of my life and never be tired of it. Maybe I’ll move to the remote village and life simply however, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the squatter toilet.