Sometimes when you go on a trip what you had in mind when planning for it and what you actually experience could be very different. When we planned for the trek to the villages around Sapa, Vietnam, the picture I had in mind was what I saw on photos and on a Travel Channel program about going there: mountains, and green, terraced rice fields with farmers and their buffaloes plowing the field. Well, during our trek to Lao Chai and Tavan villages, we did see those, but the path and the experience was nothing like what I imagined in my mind.
First off, we came during the winter time, so during that time of the year apparently it rains a lot in the area, and there are many days where visibility was close to zero due to thick fog. That’s definitely not the picture I had in mind especially when coming there with photography as one of my objectives. During our hike, it drizzled a little but there were residues of the previous day’s rain, so you have puddles and muddy stretches on the path everywhere. 5-10 minutes into the trek, we pretty much didn’t care anymore about getting our shoes and pants dirty with mud.
It wasn’t completely foggy, but it was definitely cloudy and the fog was there in some areas. So the photos I got were not washed out due to harsh lighting, but at the same time it had the sense of cool, mysterious, place.
At one stretch of the hike we finally saw the terraced rice fields, but they were so far down in the valley that the view was more like a bird’s eye view of the area. And since it was winter time, the fields were mostly brown (not green) as it’s not close to harvest time.
As I mentioned in the previous post, we were also accompanied by an ‘entourage’ of local women who tried to sell their handicrafts to us. Also, since we went through a pretty popular trekking route, there were areas where we ended up in a long traffic as there were other groups of hikers in front of and behind us (with their own set of ‘entourage’).
All in all, it was very different than what I had in mind, but it was interesting experience nevertheless.
The photo below was taken during such ‘log jam’; you can see the people in front of us going down the path to the bottom of the valley. From the clothings, you could tell the difference between the tourists and the local ‘entourage.’