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 hillside 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.
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!)
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.
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 then 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’.
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.
*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!