Ta Van-Su Pan-Giang Ta Chai-Sapa
[Beautiful mountain ranges in Sapa]
We woke up this morning to semi-clear skies! After Yen made us pancakes for breakfast, we departed with our new guide Lee. Lee is a 20 year old H’mong girl, originally from Lao Chai village. Since marriage, she now lives in Giang Ta Chai, our final destination.
Our local guide Lee & I during our trek
This was exactly what I was looking for! An authentic experience with an adventurous local guide. Those who know me know that I love trekking off the backside of a mountain, but this took “off the beaten path” to a whole new level! Because of the rain, the “path” that we took was basically a muddy landslide. I literally had to hold the hand of a 60 year old H’mong woman in gum boots because I was sliding off the side of the hill. The further you are from the town of Sapa, the less likely you are the run into other tourists. Or maybe Lee just really took us off the beaten path. Regardless, it was great! It makes you think about how physically fit the locals are because this is how to get from village to village.
Downhill hiking on muddy “paths”
After side stepping across the edge of rice fields, sliding down mountains, walking through a bamboo forest, and getting our feet wet in streams, we made it to Giang Ta Chai with a pitstop in Su Pan. This is where we stopped for lunch before the van picked us up to take us back to Sapa.
Trekking with local hilltribe women
Overall, I got more than my money’s worth. Although yesterday we didn’t have a guide from an ethnic minority village, Jong was super enthusiastic and knowledgable. I learned more from Yen, her family, and the two other guides at the homestay, than I could have imagined. Lee, our young H’mong guide was very friendly and adventurous. We started out with a group of 8 on the first day, but only two of us stayed overnight. With just the two of us on the second day, it basically turned into a private tour that was tailored to our fitness level and sense of adventure. Not to mention the delicious meals and rice wine! This was a budget friendly option that was worth every penny.
View of rice paddies during our trek
At the end of the day, the clouds cleared up and we were greeted back in Sapa with sunny skies! Not to mention we got to see the mountain ranges for the first time!
Above the clouds looking down at the rice fields
CONTACT FOR LOCAL GUIDE
On a side note, I got to know one of the guides at the homestay, a H’mong lady named Khu. If you want an authentic experience with a local guide, I would highly recommend her! She is very down to earth, outgoing, hilarious, and speaks very good English. When Khu was 12 years old, she started selling handicrafts to tourists in town. One day, a tourist asked if she could show them her village of Lao Chai and she agreed. This was before Sapa was filled with trekking tours. Through word of mouth, people started asking for her and a guesthouse started promoting her service to their guests. Since then, she has been a guide for 15 years. If you want to organize a trek with Khu in Sapa, the best way to contact her is to call her directly 0986291628. Or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s the real deal!
“We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open” -Jawaharial Nehru