Ah. So there’s been this hiatus. Which I think I’m justified in given that it was this whole “holiday season” and all. But I’m going to pick up where I left off, in Vietnam. Although I will say now that I am back on US soil :) but I’m not quite home. I’ll save that for another post though, for now, I’ve got a few more stories to share.
This is where I spent Christmas- Sapa. It’s in the northwest corner of the country, right near the border with China. It was a last minute decision to go, kind of felt like I should do it despite my natural desire to go running back to the warm beaches before leaving.
I took a sleeper bus. They are basically busses with two levels of chairs- but the chairs are laid all the way flat, like beds. My plan was to have a homestay with a local family over Christmas Eve, but that didn’t exactly pan out. So the trip is, ideally, eleven hours overnight. I don’t know what kind of traffic we hit in them middle of the night, but whatever it was held us back six hours. SIX EXTRA HOURS. The mean old bus drivers wouldn’t explain what the problem was, wouldn’t stop to let us pee (until we convinced them to pull over off the side of the road) and wouldn’t let us get any food! I was real cranky. But the biggest bummer was that the trip I paid for started early in the morning the next day, and now we missed that part. After a short spell of getting stranded on a corner with no pick up, because of the delayed arrival nobody knew what was going on, I was scooped up and taken very good care of for the rest of the trip. I went on a short trek that afternoon with a really fun Hmong woman named Koo. Hmong are the local people near the Sapa valley and reminded me of real traditional parts of Peru. Lots of beautifully colored textiles, lots of adorable small children selling handicrafts. It was fun. Cold, but fun.
As we went back into town, Christmas Eve arrived. I made a new bunch of friends and went out to play games and drink hot wine, it was nice. When I got back to my room, I shelled out the extra few bucks to get a heater and firewood for my room. I had a fireplace! And a bathtub with hot water! And two enormous blankets. It was definitely the snuggliest I’ve ever been. Pretty darn cozy for Christmas in a hotel room.
The next day was a full day of trekking. Pretty simple paths, very tourist friendly, but the sights were the most incredible part. We went through the tea plantations and several different Hmong villages. I felt like I wanted to spend more time there, talk to more of the locals for longer, but it was still fun.
As I bought my ticket back to the US a few days earlier than I planned on, I had to abbreviate the tail-end of the trip and start the journey home. Which began with another sleeper bus, this one had me back at the Friendly Hostel in Hanoi before breakfast.
I flew to Bangkok- to retrieve my baggage I left at the hotel- and spent another day in the city getting a few more days, another trip to the market, and binging on my favorite thai treats I was about to leave behind. It was good! And then I had a very smooth flight back. Now reunited with my parents for a brief family vacation in California! My body completely rejected the idea of me returning to America. I was sick and so tired I could barely move for a few days, I’m sure jet lag played a part. But a little under a week later and I’m up and running- literally. Glad I’ve got a bit more of fun time before school life commences soon :/ I’ll write a bit about my west coast adventures soon :)