Sunday, 26 November 2017

My First day In Sapa, Vietnam: Trekking To Cat Cat Village

We arrived in Sapa after a 5½ hour bus journey from Hanoi. Even though I had all the direction traced out in my head (having done a detailed search before the trip), I was initially dazed. The town looked a little haphazard and I certainly didn't expect the weather to be that hot. 
After leaving humid Hanoi I was looking forward to the 'cool' of this hill station. By the way Sapa lies on the Tonkinese Alps with an altitude of 1500 meters a.s.l. and I already envisaged strolling around in cool and crisp mountain air wearing my new sweater. But alas the weather forecast must have gone haywire. The temperature was forecasted to be around 18⁰C to 25⁰C but it definitely exceeded 30⁰C that afternoon. On top of that it was very humid.
Anyway we managed to find our hotel without difficulty. Even though it is just 200 meters from the bus stop, we had to drag our bags along an undulating road which was in utter need of repair. Thankfully the path was mostly downhill.
We checked into our hotel, had lunch in a nearby restaurant and decided to trek to Cat Cat Village which is home to the black H'mong, a minority tribe that makes up the bulk of Sapa's population. It was about 2pm then.
As we were staying in a hotel along Fanxipan Street, the trek down to Cat Cat Village was easy. Fanxipan Street is a long road that winds downhill from the town for close to 2 km and Cat Cat Village is located in a deep valley off this road. The scenery along Fanxipan Street was beautiful and in our excitement we forgot about the scorching heat. We also forgot to bring our umbrella, hats, water and sunblock lotion.
The trek downhill overlooks layers of green mountains with slopes beautifully terraced for rice farming. Magnificent vistas and a verdant grandeur like this are probably what make Sapa famous.
There is a building that stands out in the valley nearing Cat Cat Village. Haven Sapa Club House and Hostel is a F&B outlet that also provides accommodation for visitors.
Visitors are required to pay 50,000 VND as entrance fee before being allowed into the village. The sweltering heat has started to take the toll on me by then. Incidentally there were a few shops that rent out ethnic costumes and this came with a hat and an umbrella. I wanted the umbrella and it wasn't a bad idea to don the attire so I decided to rent one. The rental was 50,000 VND and I could wear it until I finished my tour around the village. It was a relief as I was about to get sunburned. 
The village is very deep and there are many flights of stone steps going down. Lining this path are shops selling souvenirs and all types of ethnic handicrafts and as we walked along we were greeted by the poultry and little piglets that these natives rear.
It felt a little warm as I had a few layers on and though I look plump this package was a blessing as I managed to protect myself from the blazing sun.
Very small children carrying their baby brothers or sisters is a very common sight in Sapa. This is quite a heart wrenching phenomenon as these little children who themselves need care are made to care for others at such a tender age.
The H'mong live very modest lifestyle. Tattered homes with minimal amenities, early marriages, little education are part of poverty's vicious cycle here.
Among some highlights of Cat Cat Village is seeing how handicrafts are made.

There is a beautiful waterfall and stream that flows through the village.
An old hydro electric power station built by the French remains till this day adding a vintage charm to the village.

Beautiful rice terraces can be seen from the village. Those who are willing to trek deeper into the village will probably be awarded with more amazing views. It's a wonder how the tribal people managed to carve out such artistic landscape on the mountain slopes. 
Many people complain that Cat Cat Village is too touristy but if you'd care to look around and beyond, there is much allure to behold.
We finished touring the village but the thought of climbing the myriads of steps up to the exit and then walking the steep Fanxipan Street back to the hotel was dreary indeed. I made it to the exit with much exhaustion and for my sake Ronnie agreed to take the motorbike taxis back to the hotel from there.

Related Posts:
1. Top Things To Do In Sapa, Vietnam
2. My First Day In Sapa: Trekking To Cat Cat Village
3.My Second Day In Sapa; Trekking To Muong Hoa Valley

4. My Third Day In Sapa: Visiting Hamrong Mountain


Unknown said...

Nice post.Great info! I think you and your wife had such a great time in Sapa. Your photograph is so wonderful. The scenery is so stunning, every thing in there is absolutely pleasant. Rice terraces, high mountains, beautiful streams and lovely H'mong Locals are just combined to make Sapa shinning brightly more than ever. There is no word to express the natural beauty of Cat Cat village. It may be support for tourism a lot but Cat Cat village is still peaceful and simple in itself. I hope to read more and more your posts.
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atif xhaikh said...

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Tell Me Your Story said...

Awesome image collection. Some really inspiring, colourful designs A wonderful explanation is given about A Guide to Trekking in Sapa

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