A little while back I wrote about my hatred of night buses, and my hopes that our upcoming night train ride would allow for a more restful night. Well, I am happy to report that our night train ride last night was simply wonderful.
We decided to pay a little bit more than the regular class fare and go with a private company car, called Pumpkin, which is attached to the regular train. This gets you a thicker mattress, nicer amenities and apparently a smoother ride. While our night train rides in Thailand were bumpy and loud, I have to say that this was not false advertising. The ride was smooth, and as soon as we turned off the lights I was off to dream land. I slept like a log through the night and was only woken up twice, at the two designated stops along the way. It was fantastic!
As soon as we arrived in Lao Cai, which is the last train stop in Northern Vietnam before crossing into China, we were off on a mini bus to Sapa. Sapa is *the* place to go for all things trekking, tribal people and rice terraces. During our hour long ride we were mostly in the clouds, so the sunrise was not at all memorable, but we managed to catch glimpses of amazing landscapes, terraces and sheer natural beauty. I made sure that Travis got the window seat so that he could soak it all in.
Sapa was colder than Lao Cai, but that was to be expected with the altitude change. It sits at just over 3000 meters, so we were prepared with jackets, wool socks and sweaters. We were not even off the bus yet that local ladies, decked out in their colourful, intricate tribal clothes were after us, trying to befriend us and get us to buy their souvenirs. We remained friendly but resolute to find a room – we are spending Christmas here after all and we want to have a nice place!
We did end up finding a great room, possibly our most expensive yet since Japan, but a great room regardless! Two of the walls are windows overlooking the rice terraces, a balcony and even a fire place! The downside though is that heating does not exits in Sapa, so the room is cold and humid – we have to keep warm by staying underneath the covers. We can ever see our breath when we exhale, so we keep all of our layers on! The weather has also been uncooperative, with thick clouds blocking our view. While we mostly just see a sheet of white through our windows, the clouds do part from time to time just a tiny bit…
Hopefully tomorrow will be bright and sunny to warm us up and for us to enjoy the stunning scenery!