Friday, December 08, 2006

Over the mountins to Sa Pa

Today we said goodbye to our driver, Mr Nang as he dropped us ioff at our Sapa Goldsea Hotel here in Sa Pa, on the slopes looking down the Cat Cat valley across to the mighty Fansipan range the other side. A more spectacular setting, you could not wish for.

We had bene advised to arrive in Sa Pa by 9.00 this morning in order to be in time to join with the Sinh Cafe tour, but as it happened we wer not to get going until 1.30 which gave us some time to look around the town, notably the market and also take some motorbikes out to visit another village which would not be covered by our tour. We could have rested but when there is so much to see and do, it seems a pity to rest.

So, this meant that we had an early start from new Lai Chau, where we spent last night on two very hard beds. Neither of us could sleep, either because the bed was so hard or because we were scared of not waking up in time. But up we were ready to go at 6.00 am, without any cofffee and while it was still reasonably dark. On our way to the next village we saw numerous tired looking people on their way to work or school, so we were not the only ones. Time to stop briefly at this place for a look at teh maket and take some photos in poor light before starting our 30 km ascent up the pass.

As they had said in our travel plan, all the other passes we had climbed were like aperitifs for the main course, and specatcular it was too, with clouds bubbling over the peaks as the sun shone through. Here is a picture of us at or near the top, to give an idea of what it was like.

The mountains we have travelled through the past few days have resembled a bit those we had seen in yemen, with respect to teh terraces and also Ethiopia with respect to the shapes and vegetation. Sometimes it seemed we were back in the Omo Valley, so similar it was, with the forested slopes coming down to meet the rushing waters of the river. Tody was more like the Simien Mountains, the smell and feel of the air (a fair bit warmere here, thank goodness), the grassy slopes and the feeling of being at the top of the world.

Coming down into Sa Pa from the pass was a long 10 kms, again passing stunning scenery and itw as a great way to end what had been four-and-a-bit excellent days.

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