SAPA- GOLDEN STREAM LOVE WATERFALL!! WHAT?? & ATROCITIES!

Sapa, Vietnam
October 20, 2013

They were renting motorcycles next door, so we picked one up and with our scribbled map in hand we went to check out some waterfalls. The first was Silver Waterfall. After driving for thirty minutes in complete clouds we parked our bikes across the street at a Travel VIetnam Sapa bamboo ricehillside row of stalls all offering free tea if you spend 10,000 Dong to park your bike. Pulling in, every woman was yelling for us to pull into her designated spot, but I made eyes with one and we went right for her. In front of her on a little makeshift stove she was steeping some tea. We said our sinchow’s (hello’s) and sat down on a couple of toddler size plastic stools as she handed us some hot tea. Beside her stove she had a few wicker baskets of snacks: bamboo shoots packed with sticky rice, hotdogs on a stick, squid on a stick, and the teeniest whole chickens spiked on a stick. All finger foods good to give you energy for a good ol’ climb. We drank the tea and told her we would be back for some eats.

Across the street we bought a ticket and climbed alongside a sloping waterfall that ran down the side of a mountain. It was long and fluid without too many crashing breaks. We climbed up and then down and took some photos in between with a couple of Asian tourists we met.

weird

weird

Back at her stall we ordered a couple bamboo sticky rice and looked at all the other stuff she was selling. With my mothers birthday coming up I found a __________ (You thought I’d tell you…tsk tsk tsk) that I thought she might like. If I know her well enough she’ll like it mighty fine. (KT: It’s a chicken on a stick!!! Debby! Debby! He got you a chicken on a stick! CAUTION when you open the box hehe) I asked the woman where it came from and she said that people in her village made it. That was exactly the response I was looking for. Even if it was a lie. (KT: They imported the chicken, them bastids!)

mmm bamboo sticky rice dipped in salt & sesame!

mmm bamboo sticky rice dipped in salt & sesame!

On a wall to our right were about a hundred bags of dried leaves and herbs. What they were I enquired about, and she told me they were tea. I pointed to a translucent bag filled with giant hardened mushroom tops and she made a quick tapping motion over her heart as a big smile crept on her face.

“Could it be? The elusive magic mushroom!” I motioned my two hands to the sides of my head and shook them in a wackadoo disoriented fashion.  She smiled and nodded back.

In a country hell bent on putting a kibosh on drugs we had been offered marijuana almost on a daily basis in Ho Chi Minh City and were now sitting in front of a woman selling magic mushrooms by the pound. We may or may not have bought one, thanked her, and carried on to the next waterfall, climbing a bout of hairpin turns along the side of cliffs through an impenetrable hoary fog.

Fog stickin' in L's beard hehe

Fog stickin’ in L’s beard hehe

Pulling into the grounds, we bought our tickets and made our way through an untouched forest to the ill-named Golden Stream Love Waterfall. We walked along the streams edge Travel Vietnam Sapa golden stream louthen climbed our way past several cascades until our heads caught first glimpse. We pulled ourselves up and stood with our bodies morphing; jaws plummeting, eyes gaping, and arms drooping like an unplugged television cord. Neither of us could believe it. It was unbelievable. The Golden Stream Love Waterfall was a gushing straight drop of one hundred plus feet hugged into the curves of a mountain. The water free-fell into a natural swimming hole; somewhere you’d find Huck and Tom hanging about whilst ditching out on their studyin’.

Travel Vietnam Sapa Waterfall KT

Travel Vietnam Waterfall LOU

 

 

 

 

 
We cruised back into the city, returned the bikes, and went for a stroll through the market. The market was the same in every town we had been. All selling the same handicrafts, the same food vendors, same backpacks and outdoor equipment, and the same fruit stands…except the market in Sapa had one thing we weren’t expecting.

Our new Chinese pals

Our new Chinese pals

Travel VIetnam River KT

Travel VIetnam Sapa Waterfall River LOU

*DISCLAIMER – DO NOT READ, MOTHER (OR OTHER VEGETARIANS)- SCROLL DOWN

We have seen a lot of crazy things at markets so far- everything from the whacking and scaling of a live fish; gangs of chickens, ducks and roosters tied at their ankles and crammed into wicker baskets; skinless headless frogs kicking about; every kind of animal part from tails to snots to knuckles to brains; and as much as I have heard about them eating dogs it has never been in my face. That is…until today. Walking underneath a sky of blue tarpaulin and along an alley of butcher tables sat a severed dog head beside one of its own flanks. Speechless. Truly speechless. I gasped and had to keep on walking. I have a dog at home and even though I’ve walked past hundreds of pigs heads and lips they never once have phased me like seeing that dog’s head. I shook it off and chalked it up to a cultural experience and although I don’t condone it who am I to say that it is wrong.
KT: It was really horrifying. My stomach still gets tight when I think about it…

*GOOD TO READ AGAIN MOTHER AND OTHER ANIMAL ENTHUSIASTS 

After the market we walked around the town on our way to a café that we had peeped the day prior. And to our amazement there was a big ol’ comfy couch. Something that I did not know I missed as much as I do. Mmm…there really isn’t anything like flopping down on a big ol’ couch and letting it hold you captive like an overprotective bear.

Coming down a dark wet road, the sounds of asian flute blew through the mountain air. Draped underneath an umbrella & cut-out from a circle of streetlight sat a man hunched in rags. His melodies fluttering in the night mellowed the grunts and squeals that echoed from a truck bursting at the seems with wicker-capped sows. Three pigs were weighed then uncorked from their wicker cages only to be ushered down a set of damp dark steps. Their bones taught from hours of wet confined travel – a man guides them with a whip of a stick while another man weighs the empty caskets. the flutist didn’t lift his head or break a note. (KT: Neither Lou or I spoke until after the pig sale was over. We were both horrified by the treatment of the animals, and somehow lulled by the playing of the flute that didn’t relent. I tossed the flute player a few dong; his music had helped keep my tears behind my lids.)

We got to the café after and some beyotch was sitting on our couch with a pompous air. At least thats how we perceived it. We sat in a couple of chairs beside her eyeing her down for a couple of hours until she up and left. And can you believe it? She left three slices of a pizza behind. She didn’t wrap them up or offer them to us. Nothing. No respect for this woman. Good thing we’ll never see her again. We hung out writing and reading until it was time for dinner then went to bed. Tomorrow was our last day in Sapa and we had to get ready for another sleeper bus. Yippee!

Travel VIetnam Waterfall laughing

Slather Me With Peanut Butter Because…

These buns are toasted!

The first 3 days of our motorbike trip through Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi
SAMSUNG CSC

Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City – Mui Ne

We set off from Ho Chi Minh at 10AM after a hearty breakfast and some coffee at our favourite HCM hot spot – Santa Cafe. It was later than expected, but hey, we’re on vacation (our excuse for everything these days hehe). I was a little apprehensive about how the roads were going to be out of the city, as we had experienced treacherous roads out

Awkward photo of the year goes to...haha loved this family

Awkward photo of the year goes to…haha loved this family

of the city previously on our way to the Mekong. We got incredibly lucky; no rain, bearable traffic, and great roads all the way out. Puttin’ along the highway, we were making great time. We had one extended stop at a highway-side cafe/karaoke joint full of hammocks and smiling faces. After a short photo-shoot with the local mamacitas and grandmamacitas, we hopped back on our bikes and continued on. If you’ve read our previous blog posts about road-tripping, you know we got lost a LOT on our way to Ba Dong Beach. But not this time! Nope. We headed to Phan Thiet, which lead us to Mui Ne.

At about 5PM we were popping our heads in to some hostels and guesthouses; we were determined to not pay more than $10. We found one lovely little place, Ly Ly Guesthouse and decided to call it home. After dropping our bags in the room, we set out in search of food. Famished from our first day of motorbiking excitement we went to one of the first joints we saw. The lady was also incredibly friendly, which we’re suckers for. A couple of unexceptional meals and some free fruit later, we snacked on some ice cream cones and sat by the sea, watching the fishermen do their thang farrrr out in the water. We walked back to our home and Louis was fast asleep and snoring almost before his head hit the pillow. I stayed up and read (finished Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coehlo. Very interesting book, I recommend it!).

Day 2 – Mui Ne – Di Linh

The next morning we had some breakfast down the road (mushroom and onion omelets), played with a puppy, and went for a cruise on our bikes. Sand dunes on one side, sea on the other – wow! I can see how people could get completely lost in the desert. Walking up and

Our faces say it all...

Our faces say it all…

down dunes with the sun shining so bright is disorienting. Tobogganing down the rolling sand dunes seemed like the natural thing to do, so we parked our bike and started the twisted trek up the dunes when an old(ish) Vietnamese lady came running over with two toboggans. We decided on a price of 50,000VND for both Lou & I. We all hiked up together, with a younger girl joining us, then another girl. The older lady cleared a path for us and I won’t lie, at first I was a bit nervous. It was hella steep, but really…it’s sand, get a grip, right Katie. We went down 5 times in total, twice with both of us together. It was pretty hilarious and we got entirely covered in sand. I could feel my legs burning as I climbed back up the

She gave us kisses

She gave us kisses

dune, and I was completely out of breath. As we thanked the ladies, and found some more breath to laugh with them, they decided to change the price from 50,000VND to 150,000VND. “You tip her!” the youngest girl said to us. “Yes, we were going to” was our reply, and we held out our hands with a huge tip. The older woman thanked us, hugged us, kissed us, while the middle girl looked at us disappointingly. She had tried to change the price on us at the last minute, not this time, sand dune lady!

We drove home, changed into our suits, and hopped in the South China sea. And ahhhh how amazing it was! It gets me every time how incredibly warm the sea is. A huge wave hit us…”Ah something touched me.” “AHHH THAT DEAD FISH TOUCHED ME!”. And sure enough, there was a dead fish floating in the water beside me that had just graced my back with its dead scales. It was close to check-out time and we had to get on the road so we got out, packed up, and headed out.

The spot we wanted to hit up today was Di Linh. We were excited about the drive there because we had a met a man at Santa Cafe that has a coffee plantation in Di Linh and had told us about the beautiful roads and scenery. Nothing could have prepared us

CLOUDS I tell you...CLOUDS!

CLOUDS I tell you…CLOUDS!

for the beauty of this day. Driving along the open roads with fields and rice paddies on each side, and mountain ranges in the distance, we were laughing and grinning like idiots. Then before I knew it we were in the mountains. Louis and I are both nutty about mountains. Twisting and turning up the mountain, both my bike and I could feel us climbing. She kept puttin’ away and didn’t let me down. Soon enough we were driving through clouds and ooh-ing and ahhh-ing at the mountain towns and fields etched into the sides of hills. Up and up and up, then down and down.

It started to rain and we were ready for a pit stop so we pulled off at a little shack with a few (very very) drunk men taking shots, eating snacks and chillaxin’ out hard. We took our coca-colas and strolled through this hill-farm-town. Knowing that there was much more to come, we got back on our bikes and headed out the last 30KM towards Di Linh.

Happy as a pig in...

Happy as a pig in…

It was getting rather chilly as we got to Di Linh at 7ish. We bartered some hotel rooms, found what seemed like a decent one, threw our bags down and went to grab some (cheap!) dinner. Just down the street we ran into a lovely little pho shop with a woman and her son running the joint. It was heavenly. The best pho we’ve had so far. Thick noodles, delectable broth, chunks of beef, fresh greens, steamed bean sprouts – YUM! Before calling it a night we went for a stroll to digest our drool-worthy meal then parked our butts in bed to watch a movie – Now You See Me – it was just OK. We were lights out pretty quickly after that.

 Day 3 - Di Linh – Da Lat

I won’t lie…I woke up groggy and grumbly. The mattress was, well, worth nothing more than the $6 we paid for it, and there was a table full of Vietnamese men down the hallway that I swear were up gambling all night. After some com tam (pork and rice, with a tasty soup side) and a ca phe da for breakfast, we flew out of Di Linh in pursuit of happiness – Da Lat.

It was another day full of breathtaking views and lovely roads. It only took us a few hours to get to Da Lat and we were driving along the centre river by 1PM. A river! And mountains! And french-inspired buildings! Da Lat is in the center highlands of Vietnam where the

Da Lat grows a ton of stuff - from strawberries to avocados to flowers, grapes, coffee, and tea!

Da Lat grows a ton of stuff – from strawberries to avocados to flowers, grapes, coffee, and tea!

French soldiers went to escape the heat of Vietnam, so all the architecture is largely french-inspired. Da Lat is said to be the city of eternal spring. It is very warm in the morning, quickly followed by a light drizzle and cooler temperatures. It’s everything we wanted. We’re escaping the heat of Saigon and couldn’t be happier about it. After checking out a few hotels, we settled on one basically by the very friendly owner and his willingness to barter and give us a good deal on two nights. Our room is on the third floor facing a field and mountains, and half the room is windows. The mattress is a complete 360 degrees (lol jk – a complete 180 degrees) from our mattress the night before.

We hopped on my bike and went for a scoot around town, stopping at the market to have a gander at a mountain market and get some grub. The meat market had live chickens and ducks for sale, that could be butchered while you wait. There were also dishes full of brains and other body-part substances I couldn’t name. Don’t forget the flies buzzing all around and women cutting meat on the cement ground. I’m still in awe at the handling of meat here. We wandered up to the second floor and grabbed a seat at a little stall selling Vietnamese things with a menu translated into English. I can’t remember what the dish was called now, but it was just alright. Something with mushrooms and pork.

We decided to kick back to our hotel to grab our computers and go to a coffee shop to do this – blog – but when we got back to the hotel we both crashed so hard…for 5 hours. We woke up and it was pitch black out, 9:45PM. Da Lat has a curfew of 11PM but we knew we had to get out of the hotel and eat something before being stuck in for the night, so we snuck out (not really, we told the owner we were leaving so he knew the front door would be unlocked) and walked through the light drizzle in search of cheap pho-ood. It was incredible. The city was fairly empty, just the odd motorbike whizzing past and the odd shop open. The air was so fresh – something we had really missed after being in smog-filled Ho Chi Minh. We came upon the night market and each got some vegetarian chow mein (funny, because Louis had JUST been talking about how much he would love some chow mein and we hadn’t seen any anywhere) and a couple of pops (or sodas for you American-type). We sauntered back to our hotel, walking along the river, and marveling at the gorgeous mountains and peacefulness of this Vietnamese-French mountain town.

We again started to blog, but Louis put on Kickass 2 so we watched that and passed out so hard – that bed! So comfy! We had looked at a bunch of stuff we wanted to do around Da Lat, and were contemplating living there forever as we fell asleep. Tomorrow would mean more Da Lat adventuring.

What kind of adventures have you been on? What has been your favourite roadtrip? What roadtrips do you hope to do in the future?

PS: Hey guys! We’re on Facebook and Twitter :) We’ll post little updates and non-bloggy things there as well!