We said goodbye to our hosts
No shortage of steep hills here, but every slope is farmed. The ratio of paddie to terrace is very small on this slope, but the population is growing and so more and more terraces are being cut.
And a great picture of our guide.
Nhu was tired, and we were eager to check into our room. We said goodbye and tipped her well. she had worked hard for it - she said only 3 or 4 other parties each year want to do the amount of walking and elevation change we asked for.
Climbing 5 flights of stairs to our room was worth it. We had the best room in the hotel, on the left side of the top floor.
For a brief moment, we even saw the peak of Mount Fanispan, Vietnam's highest peak, poking through the clouds. That made the trip to Sapa worthwhile by itself.
After we showered, sent our shoes out for cleaning, and relaxed on the balcony for a bit, we grabbed some dinner consisting of the ubiquitous pumpkin soup,
and hot plate chicken for Drew and hot plate deer for me. The hot plate is basically like our fajitas back home, which makes for a sizzling hot meal until the last bite. We needed it to keep warm, as it was chilly in the restaurant, even with a pot of hot coals set beside our table. The deer was pretty similar to slightly tough beef -less gamey than venison back home.
Our massage was scheduled for 7:30. It included a cool foot bath (warm would have been nice) and a private room for the both of us. After an awkward moment when the therapists indicated for us to undress and get on the tables while they stood there, we settled in for a Swedish massage. The massage therapists were Thai, a minority group descended from southern China who share similar culture and language as modern Thais from Thailand. It was really lovely to listen to their language again after Vietnamese for a week. Thai and even H'mong are much easier on the ears than Vietnamese.
Somewhat invigorated by our massage, we took a quick stroll through the market. At every step we were solicited to buy some handicraft. The Red Dzao women seemed to be the most persistent, and got us in the end.
We needed to save some money for tomorrow's trip to the Bac Ha market though.
All in all, I think the home stay and trekking away from the tourist areas was the coolest thing we have done inVietnam. Although it was hard for me to get a feeling for the different cultures of the 4 or 5 tribes we encountered, we learned a lot about the H'mong culture and rural way of life from Nhu. The home stay was much more comfortable than I expected, and the food during the entire trip was great. I am really glad we made the journey to Sapa.