Sunday, August 19, 2007

Just Another Day at the Cloud Yard

The first of two back-to-back overnight train rides under our belt, the three of us hopped in a bus (at around 5am) for the short trip from the Lao Cai train station to the village of Sapa. We arrived in town before most shops, restaurants, etc., opened (especially because it was Sunday), but tenacious travellers that we are, we camped in front of the famous Baguette et Chocolate. Homegrown in Hanoi, B&C is one of the capital's most famous patisseries. We were sad to discover that the Hanoi location was under construction. Thank heaven we travelled to Sapa to try out the second branch! It was worth the wait (and 10 hour trek) for yummy coffee, bonbons, and fresh fruit.

Our morning was off to a great start. In the distance, we spotted a high peak with a radio tower on top. And what else does Team OurGreatAsianAdventure do when there's a mountain/hill/precipice with evidence of human activity at its peak? Climb it, naturally. So we did.

And then we fell for one of the two greatest blunders. The first of which is never start a land war in Asia (learned); the second is never hike to the top of a mountain expecting to see only a radio tower. Instead, the Sapa mountains treated us to all sorts of high-flying excitement: mountain ostriches (no kidding), a mile-high city blasting the lastest in Northwest Vietnamese techno, and a "Cloud Yard" (which is exactly what its name suggests . . . totally incomprehensible).

Ready for second-breakfast, we left Cloud Yard for a bowl of pho bo (beef noodle soup). As we saw no cows and many water buffalo, we're thinking it was "bo" in name only. Stomachs warmed, we left for our second adventure of the day -- a 3km hike to the nearby village of Cat Cat. Unlike most of our hikes, this one was entirely downhill, at an approximate grade of 59321043 degrees. Other than a small run in with a flock(?) of goats, the trip down was uneventful. The trip back to Sapa (think 59321043 degree grade, only this time straight up) was roughly the same, but a bit slower (and interrupted by a short break for red bean/green pea/coconut ice cream). That said, we've had to adapt our motto "No Shame in China" to account for the buckets of sweat Vietnam has squeezed out of us.

To replenish our fluids, we spent our last hour in Sapa sipping Bia Hoi. Our whirlwind tour of Sapa drained us a bit, but we're glad we went. The city and mountains were beautiful, our hikes fun, and Amy was only hoodwinked into purchasing "local" goods once.

A final note: For some reason we can post on the blog but not read it. To that end, we were able to see that Josh and EB posted a last entry before heading back to the U States, but couldn't read what they wrote -- we're glad that had such a great trip and were sorely missed here. Miss you guys -- see you in Beantown!

We're off to board our train back to Hanoi. Our usual hotel had no available rooms for tomorrow night, so we treated ourselves to a small taste of luxury by booking a room at the Hilton. And before Ron gets any wild ideas, it's name is simply: Hilton Hanoi Opera. Tintin, not Jane Fonda, appears to be the main celebrity.


Ron said...

Yes, yes, but is the HHO located on JF Blvd?

EB/Josh/Jon/Amy said...

Ummm....this blog has gone way downhill since the Tokyo team left. Psych, love it. The sapa train adventures sound hilarious. At any point did you have to stop on your train ride because they needed to lay rail for the next seven hours? I hear stuff like that happens in Asia.