I was pleasantly surprised by my night bus. It had reclining chairs, a blanket and pillow so managed to get quite a lot of sleep. On the bus I met an English couple, who were doing a booked tour. The bus arrived in Sapa at 4.30am but they let us sleep on the bus until 6.
My first mission was to find a motorbike so I trotted to the centre. I managed to get a bike easily from the first place I found but unfortunately it’s the worst bike I have ever ridden with the engine blaring, a missing mirror and the handle bars a bit dodgy. Next challenge was finding the hostel as it was wrongly placed on google maps. I ended up driving further, exploring a village and asking around with the stunning views to dribble over. When I found my homestay, I ate some Fried Noodles for breakfast, where I started to chat to a few travellers. Once I refreshed myself with a shower, I along with a British girl from Bournemouth, biked to the Silver waterfall, which was huge. A man gave us some tea, which warmed us up nicely especially as I was not use to the cold (15 degrees C). I know that is warm for England but after being use to 30 degrees, it’s a shock.
In the afternoon, we went to a cafe in the centre of Sapa, which gave us free hot red wine. It reminded me of Mulled wine at Christmas. The centre of Sapa reminds me of a French Ski resort; it was weird. After, we decided to have a Vietnamese body massage. It’s different to a Thai massage as it was more rubbing and using thumbs than stretching. I was slightly shocked when they wanted me to go completely naked, just knickers, when I wasn’t even in a private room. Also it was so cold in there so they got the heaters out, which was a complete change to air condition. Once we had finished, we drove back to the homestay, taking photos of the spectacular views.
The evening was different to what I expected. Just as I was eating, the two from the overnight bus entered the homestay, where I found out they were staying opposite me. They invited me over for some free rice wine, where, along with two other guys from Britain, had several shots. We went to a bar, then came back to play some card games and killer pool and enjoying some plum wine shots with the girl I hung out with for the day. As it was getting late (and it was getting noisier), we wobbled over the bridge where we stared at the stars and played some more games. We had such a fun evening!
The following day in Sapa after a bit of a lie-in, I explored the surround villages on the motorbike. First stop was a small waterfall, where I trekked about a KM to. As I was walking down, four ladies from the village followed me, trying to make conversation and eventually wanted me to buy things off them. I managed to shake them off. I bumped into the couple, where we chatted for a bit before I paddled in the lake.
After I drove around 2 of the local villages: Ciang Ta Chai Mong (north of the main road to see the scenery) and Lao Chai (closer to the lake). The latter village in particular had some terrible roads full of pot-holes and gravel, winding and hilly. At on stage I didn’t feel like I could go forward or back but manged to trundle through. Then I went back to Sapa town to have some pumpkin soup and omelette with three British girls I met before returning my motorbike and returning to Hanoi on the sleeper bus.
I had a slight problem with my bike, where I complained that the motorcycle was is really poor conditions so could she give me a discount, and she started flipping out and shouting at me. Then she had the nerve to say that I had made a scratch bigger and that I would have to pay 5,000,000 dong to repair it so in the end just paid the original price we agree. Later, I found that other rented motorbikes a lot cheaper than I paid. Around Vietnam expect to pay 100,000 dong per day but they will always start much higher. They love negotiating and bargaining, so the locals will always start at a high price, which some people just agree with it.