From Hanoi, I took a 10-hour ride with a fellow motorbike traveler to Lao Cai, close to the Chinese border. After a night there to rest, we headed up the misty mountain to Sa Pa. Once we arrived in town, I knew this place would be one of the highlights of this trip. First off, the weather was actually cool there. After three months of sweating bullets and taking 4 showers a day, the drop in temperature was most welcome.
On my 29th birthday, two guys and I took a ride through the villages in the valley. We rode on a thin strip of concrete leading through rice paddies to a stream where we swam. Later we tried to find a village over the mountain. The terrain got more and more rough, and at times we were practically going off-road with our bikes. We never found the village we were chasing, but on the way down we were invited into a man’s home. He boiled kettles of water for us to drink, and we smoked tobacco out of a waterpipe that’s very common in Northern Vietnam.
After I was in Sa Pa for three days, my Laos travel companion decided to pay me a visit in Vietnam. I knew she would absolutely love it there, so I took a bus back to Hanoi to get her, and we immediately caught a train back. I took the motorbike on the train for a small fee. The next morning when we arrived in Lao Cai, we started on the bike up the mountains. Our ride up the steep roads was interrupted by the bike braking down, which was foreshadowing to the numerous other problems I was to have with the bike in the next week before selling it. A family on motorbike stopped to pick up my lady, and we got the bike to a mechanic to fix it up. Vietnam is full of helpful, friendly locals like them.
The bike fixed, we arrived at the Green Garden Guesthouse. It’s an amazingly cheap place to stay with a gorgeous view. We spent the next few days taking rides in the surrounding area. One morning we visited the Silver Waterfall. Further down the road after the waterfall we turned a corner, and the grandeur and beauty of the valley took our breaths away. In several places amidst the tall lush mountains on the other side, were thin, tall waterfalls that made the whole scene look like something out of a beautiful dream. We winded our way through the mountains, me trying keep a good balance between watching the road so as to not crash, and enjoying the raw, natural beauty before my eyes. I have never seen anything quite like that before.
After a few days we decided to move on to see more of Northern Vietnam. After being on the motorbike for over 2 1/2 months, and seeing much of the Vietnamese countryside, I feel that the beauty of the area around Sa Pa takes the cake.