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Winter Christmas in Hanoi 2017 - Day 2 - Hanoi - Sapa

Feel free to read day 1 here!
So after an overnight train ride, we arrived at the Lao Cai train station.


Don't worry about missing your stop cause the train attendant would wake you up about half an hour before the train arrives at the train station. 
As it was so much colder here than in Hanoi, we also prepped all our heat-tech innerwear, scarves, gloves and hats in our accessible hand luggage for us to change before we disembarked. 

It was probably a little before 6am when we arrived and it was still pitch black outside. 
I didn't drink any water through the night so I was spared from the urgency to use the water closet both at the station and in the coach, which I considered myself lucky. 

We rushed out of the train station when we arrived and was greeted with a gush of cold breeze. 
It was definitely COLD, proper cold. 
We stepped out of the train station to look for cab to take us to Sapa. 

And gosh. Everyone was trying to sell us their services. 
And they were extremely pushy. 
Please be informed that the standard payment should be around 50,000VND.
I remembered that we agreed to paying 100,000VND per person before boarding, but once we put our baggage into the back of the van, we were told that we had to pay an extra 50,000VND or so. 

I was really annoyed at how greedy and dishonest these cab drivers are! 
Also, when you were lugging your luggage to the cabs, there will be a lot of ladies bringing you cups of hot teas, but please don't drink them, as those are not complimentary. 

Anyway, we were seated in the van and all ready for it to head to Sapa. 
But all of a sudden, we were chased out of the van. -.-
The owner said he was not gonna drive cause there were only the two of us.
So they shoved us into a super packed van where we were both disgustingly hated by the passengers who were already seated in the van. 

They gave us ONLY ONE seat for the two of us and told us to sit on our luggage all the way up to Sapa, which was an hour journey. We were both really unhappy. 
And the worst part was, thanks to our 'foreigner looking face',
these Malaysians didn't expect us to understand their hokkien language and they were constantly criticising us as if we were beggars. 
Erhem, we paid also okay. 
And we were thrown around too okay. 
We were victims too okay. 

Out of frustration, I sounded them back in their language and managed to shut their mouth for the subsequent hour. Phew. 

For those with a faint heart, just don't look at the road as the driver was driving up to Sapa. 
The road was winding and it was pitch black with no street lamps. 
In simpler words, it was SUPER SCARY! 

But as it was still really early in the morning, I didn't make an effort to fight with my closing eyes and the next thing I knew, we got to Sapa town! 

And the first thing I noticed was, omg? Constructions everywhere? 
The road was muddy, the air was filthy, and scaffoldings were the most common ornaments adorning the facade of the buildings. 

The van driver began dropping off passengers at their hotels.
As we were the last to board the van, of course, we were the last ones to be dropped off at our hotel. 
But that gave us the opportunity to look around Sapa in the van. 

We pre-booked our hotel, Sapa Sun Hotel
This hotel is fairly new and it's somewhat secluded, so it took us quite a while for the van driver to finally have found our hotel.
We had informed the person-in-charge beforehand that we were arriving early in the morning. 
Not only were they kind enough to have provided us a room despite our arrival at 7am, 
the receptionist even carried our luggage (as in carrying, without the wheels getting dragged in the muddy floor) for us to the hotel. 

We checked into the hotel, refreshed ourselves and we were super excited to embrace the cold already! 

If you're visiting during the winter time, please note that the temp is usually at the single digit kinda low, so proper winter clothing is recommended. 
We totally underestimated the cold! 





This place is absolutely unique. 
As it was a chilly retreat for the French in the past when the French were ruling, 
the buildings of this place have a subtle French influence! 

But also note that there are a ton of the aboriginals hanging around asking for donations or trying to sell you some of their 'handicrafts".
I'd recommend not buying from them because there's actually a sign from the local authorities that says it's illegal for them to sell their items there.

Anyway, after a bit of wander around, we decided to grab breakfast, or rather brunch.
We went to this famous hotpot restaurant called... wait for it... I can't even pronounce it...
Thang Co A Quynh restaurant


Dried meat in the making... 





We naturally ordered the hotpot to combat the cold! 









And it's become D's all time favourite food. LOL. 
Loads of protein, piping hot soup which is both fragrant and delicious, 
tons of vegetables, my favourite tofu, 
their special sauce. 
It was not your usual flavour, but still very much similar to Chinese cuisine. 
Overall, it was a satisfying meal.
And we thought the price was reasonable too given its ginormous portion which we both failed to finish. 

To burn those calories off, we explored the town, saw the lake, and snapped away! 








There are actually so much to do in Sapa such as visiting the villages, the paddy field, conquering Fansipan peak, but the weather was too cold, and we didn't really want to rush anything, 
so we spent our time just exploring this little town, people watch, and wonder how these people live their lives here. 

We also got really lucky cause they were holding the Sapa Winter Festival. 
It was supposed to be snowing the few days when we were there, there was in fact snow, ice, and sleet blanketed the mountainous district of Sapa, but not particularly the town. 
I was gutted that it didn't snow, but i had fun playing with some fake snow at the winter festivals! 





This place was also really festive! 
All of the buildings were nicely decorated with Christmas ornaments and at times we really felt like we were somewhere else instead of Vietnam. 




And because we were young and free, lol, we WALKED THE ENTIRE TOWN, yepppp. For hours. LOL. 





At around 3pm, we were both hungry again, so we stopped by Sapa Cuisine Restaurant for some lunch! 

This time we went for proper Vietnamese food, and again, tons of vege! 
We also tried their curry, which turned out really... bleh... 
So don't order curry! 

Then we went back to the hotel for a short nap and to warm ourselves up before heading out again when the sun set to enter to the Winter Festival! 






Asked for the staff's help for a photo, and it turned out horrible. HAAHAHAHHA! 

After spending about an hour there, we left the place for food. 
We walked into different restaurant but nothing appealed to us.
Some of them were really overpriced. 
So.. We went back to the restaurant where we had breakfast again. LOL. 

And this time we tried something different. 
We tried... 
HORSE MEAT. 

I only took one bite cause I was scared as hell! 

And vegetables of course! 
By this point, the staff already recognised us. Hahahaha! 
One of the staff even thought that I was local and started speaking their local language to me, and I was like..
Heh I don't understand. LOL. 

After our dinner, we went to the most iconic landmark of Sapa, the church. 




It was basically a very chill day but it was somehow really enjoyable. 
The weather got really cold at night so we headed back to our hotel and snugged under our duvet. 

I would imagine this place to be more enjoyable if there was less construction and development going on. Most of the shop owners constantly drenching the floor with water to prevent the dust from flying around, but that makes the floor really muddy and our shoes were really dirty all the time when we were there. 
I was also really conscious about eating at any restaurant by the main road, without a door. LOL. 

But overall, we really enjoyed our relaxing time there! 

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