A Postcard from Sapa

A sleeper train that doesn’t allow for much sleep. A 4:30 knock on the door, “Wake up! We’re here!” A topsy-turvy drive round mountains and valleys. Strolls interrupted by sellers looking for shoppers – “Maybe later?” “Maybe later!” Beautiful fabrics, hand dyed and embroidered. Started to see why Mum likes them so much. Toddlers dressed in traditional costume, forced into earning at such a young age. Pizza places lit up with neon lights: free wine, free beer, free garlic bread. Pavements lined with fake North Face coats, stealing our attention every time we pass. A grand plan of a mountain summit. Thermals, jumpers, coats and scarves. A funicular ride across the valley. A steep, long cable car from clear skies into fog. Rice paddy terraces descending below, until thick, dense forest takes over the view. Steps. So many steps. Layers. So many layers. A mountain summit, with flags to wave.

The view? White cloud, and nothing else. We smiled though. It was worth it for the flashing on my FitBit. A thoroughly good sleep in a bed that stays still. Morning. Blue skies. “The best view in Sapa,” observed from a rickety wooden roof. The summit looked clearer that day. Typical. Card games and hot chocs, the heat of the cup warming my hands. Another drive. Another train. Another sleepless night, somehow louder and bumpier than before. Who knew that was possible?

Have you been to Sapa? What did you think of it?

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