Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fernweh - Letsgetlost 2016 - Journey to Sapa

"A story is like a moving train; no matter where you hop on board, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later..." ~ Khaled Hosseini

In  the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the most Merciful.

Oh my, updates are so slow on this blog it is now Ramadhan 2016!.

But I promised so I shall deliver!

Now its the epic train journey to Sapa from Hanoi where I actually threw up in..hahahaha.

For the journey I took the Tulico Express train. NIN and I decided that whilst the standard cabins bunk four beds, we will buy all 4 so we had the cabin all to ourselves. This was a wise decision.

Outside view 

Muka excited going on an overnight train haha 

 These 2 bunks were mine. Can you imagine if there were 4 people in the cabin? It would have been a tight squeeze. For us 2 it was just right.

It was quite cozy 

 Our bunks!

 The train provides, water, light refreshments which includes hot vietnamese coffee in the morning, wet towels and other items which you can order from the menu shown above. We just took the water and light refreshments. Coffee on a moving train was just too much for us and we skipped.

The journey takes the entire night and you will arrive at Lao Cai around 6 in the morning.  Here we are at the train station! After the train ride it was about a 45 min van ride up the hills to Sapa!

You can make your own bookings for these trains from Vietnam Railway. Their website is here.

Okay, this part is done!. I have some more foodie updates. Soon!!

Have a good weekend ahead and peace and love from Airiel and I to everyone.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fernweh - Letsgetlost 2016 - Sapa Valley Part 2

"There's a whole world out there, right outside your window. You'd be a fool to miss it..." Charlotte Erikson

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the most Merciful.

Hello readers, 

It's time for Sapa Valley part 2.

I took a walking tour that required me to walk about 12 km throughout the Sapa countryside, through its indigenous villages. The people living on these hills are nowhere similar to the city in Vietnam. Their dressing and language is entirely different. What remains the same though I find, is the warmth they all exhibit.

This is Mr. Kim. His family was not pictured but the entire Kim family joined the tour as well. He was very friendly and I gather, extremely wealthy because he tried to pay for me when I bought some souvenirs in the villages. He was fascinated that a Muslim woman had decided to take a walking tour alone (actually NIN was sick so she couldn't join me).

 The sky was beautiful

 I started my walk down the hill which was about 4 km away from the Sapa Valley, this was about halfway to reaching the village

Paddy fields or decks, they would call it as the paddy here are grown on hill slopes

We descended further into the valley. The views, as you can see are absolutely stunning.

 And we have reached the first village!

little baby ducks!

The village was amazing. There were little goats, pigs running around. 

 We went through the village and descended further into the valley. By this time it was super hot and even though I ran marathons myself, I was getting a bit tired. The kids in front are the kids from the Kim family. We stopped for lunch.

I had lunch in a villager's house. Literally,  like smack dab in the middle of his house. As a matter of choice I make a point to never pick a muslim tour when I travel. Had I picked tours such as that, I would never have arrived at this place. Most of the time I would be the only muslim in any group when I am travelling (plus NIN of course). It takes you out of your comfort zone, it gives you a better understanding of other cultures, faiths and teaches you how to respect and most importantly to not judge others. It is customary for every home in the villages here to have a dog and this one had a free reign in the house I was eating in. The dog was so friendly but I supposed was also taught not to get to near to the tourists haha. The family was very welcoming and so warm and the food was delicious. I had all the vegetables, simply cooked but was wholesome and flavourful. What I find delightful is that people would just sit down in the same table as me and did not find it arkward although we could not speak the  same language.

 After an hour passed after lunch (the people here are laidback and the tours almost never finish on time) I walked some more.

 At the base of the valley, there were more paddy

 A water mill at one of the village houses. I have not seen this since I was a very small child. Tetiba teringat zaman kecik di kampung hehehe

More countryside. How awesome.

The tour ended after about another 4 kilometers and I was totally knackered. But my word, this place was beyond amazing.

Sapa Valley and its indigenous villages is a must visit if you go to sapa. The guide will be the villagers themselves, trained by the government to speak english and they will be dressed in the village's unique traditional dress, which is different for each village. 

Put it on your bucket list, travellers! hehe

Love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.