Sapa rice terracesOur guide from yesterday, I now know that her name is spelt Dao but pronounced Yioau, met us just before 9.00am and we were joined by a young couple from Holland, 4 Italians and the 2 older Germans from yesterday. Today was a 12km hike along roads and through rice fields with a lot of ups and downs. It was, mercifully, a beautiful sunny day or the trails would have been deadly. The views were absolutely breathtaking, like something out of one of the advertising brochures, with terraced rice fields rising hundreds of metres up the sides of steep mountains. It beggars the mind to think of the local people rising at 4 or 4.30am then traipsing for 3 or 4 kilometres, pretty much all of it uphill, to put in a hard days graft in the fields. Our party of 10 doubled in size with the local Black Hmong women tramping along beside us waiting for an opportunity to try and sell their wares to us. The opportunity didn't come until the end of the trek by which time they had carried their baskets of goodies 12km. Our eventual destination was Dao's home village of Lao Chai, nestled in the Sapa from hotelSapa from hotelbottom of a valley with a river running through the middle, very picturesque. We had a final kilometre or so to the pickup point where we were met by a minibus. As we were climbing aboard the heavens opened and within a minute or so water was cascading down the roads and hills. Perfect timing. We were dropped back at our hotel for a quick shower and dinner before being bussed back to Lao Cai for the sleeper train back to Hanoi. Have I mentioned what a bloody marvellous thing sleeper trains are?

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