08.12.2015 - 08.12.2015 15 °C
The early morning weather in Sapa was cold, crisp, windy, misty with slight rain. Arriving from Hanoi, I had expected that the temperature in Sapa to be low but not as cold as this situation that I experienced. It was indeed gravely chilly and the rain turned the start of the day into further difficult predicament. But, I was not deterred. I have not been experiencing such chilly, windy and rainy weather for as long as I could remember. The last one was probably when I travelled to Mae Sai in Chiang Rai province, Thailand. It was some kind of nice experience to feel and be in such condition, I thought. It made me thinking, if I were to be in Europe, live, work or travel, such extreme weather or even worst should be expected. It was still too early to check-in when I arrived at the acomodation facility in Sapa from Lao Cai. town. The hotel appeared to be run by a husband and wife assisted by their in-house workers. They offer a room just in front of the reception, which later I found, was being utilised as the husband-wife owner's room to rest and sleep for guests to keep their luggage temporarily while waiting to check-in or returned to Lao Cai town. Information that I had was to trek the nearby Cat Cat Village which houses the Hmong hill tribes community, one of the indigenous community in the highlands of Sapa region. This hill tribes village was the closest indigenous hill tribes village travellers to Sapa could access to. Though the weather was misty, chilly and windy, I brave myself to step out from my hotel and walk towards the direction of Cat Cat Village. The rain seemed to have stopped, briefly. To trek the Cat Cat Hmong Village, first you would descend from the edge of Sapa town down to the valley of the hill. Be prepared to be hosted by the hill tribes women who main aim was to sell your their native village items. If you like what you see, you can buy from them. If no, just politely say thank you. They can speak some basic English. As I descended down, it started to rain again, from slight drizzle it then turned into slight rain, still walkable though you get shoes wet and clothing damped. After few kilometres of trekking, I came across a very interesting coffee house cum an art house. It was interesting because it reminds me of being in Europe. Not that I had been to Europe though but have seen it on tv before. It has few seating arrangements, tables and chairs with dozens of drawings being displayed on the walls and floors of the makeshift coffee shop cum art shop. It was interesting because it has a heater, not any type of heater where it doesn't use the electricity but the thick woods as source of fire to heat up the place. It feel so good with the warmness and the heat of the fire from the burning wood to shelter oneself from the cold, windy weather just outside the coffee house. Take a good brief rest before continuing the trekking journey to the Cat Cat Village, that would be rewarding enough though just for awhile. Have some coffee and relax added up to the nice relaxing warm atmosphere. Just as I stepped out, the rain started to get slightly heavy but no worries because most of the coffee shops or any other shops selling all kinds of things, they have rain coats and umbrella on sale too. So, you are all ready to be on the trek again with all these ready.
"Bun cuon" for breakfast after arrival at Sapa from Lao Cai
Hill tribes women will be around the trekking area from Sapa town to Cat Cat Village to try to sell you some items
SOME OF THE SCENES WHILE TREKKING TO CAT CAT HMONG HILL TRIBES VILLAGE
ENJOY COFFEE AND TO WARM UP DUE TO THE CHILLY WEATHER WHILE TREKKING TO CAT CAT VILLAGE
Entrance to the Cat Cat Village is VND 40,000. There was a welcoming arch and ticket booth right at the entrance to the Cat Cat Village. As I trek, I started to witness the village homes on the left and right of the walkways. Most parts of the Cat Cat Village walkways were covered with paved surface, so, its not too slippery or muddy as you trek through the village. Immediately passing through the Hmong homes which also has makeshift stalls set-up beside the houses fronting the walkways and side of walkways, I came across the beautiful, amazing and scenic rice fields overlooking the wonderful, green mountains. The thick mist can been seen on the background of the mountains due to the chilly weather and rain. The scenery was just marvellous. The rice fields and the scenic mountains scenery were best viewed just as I started trekking the cat Cat Village. There were also few Hmong homes which trekkers could access to to witness with their own eyes on how such interior of hill tribes home look like. The Hmong homes basically can be either single or 2 storey wooden structures, with all items used to built it were from wood. A view on a 2 storey Hmong home revealed a living hall, a kitchen and working hall on the ground floor of the home. The sleeping rooms were not seen on the ground floor and I assumed this must be on the upper floor. Some Hmong household also rear the black boar which were seen roaming around the village as I trek through. It was also noted that fresh water was sourced from the mountains which then flow to the rice fields through a traditional equipment which also doubles up as rice pounder.
ARRIVING AT CAT CAT VILLAGE
SOME OF THE SCENES, LANDSCAPES, HMONG HOMES AND ITEMS SOLD IN THE CAT CAT VILLAGE
The makeshift shops mostly displaying traditional hand-made textiles, kitchenwares made from bamboo and Hmong hill tribes herbs, dry food such as nuts and buffalo meat and souvenir items. I remember I had the same buffalo meat when I travelled to Phnom Penh in 2012 and here, I was overwhelmed to see such meat also widely available at Sapa. Due to the cold weather, it was also nice to have some hot char-grilled eggs sole in some shops to heat up. At the end of the Cat cat Village, there was a waterfall and a stream which was quite serene and enchanting for some photography sessions. After few kilometres of walk from the stream, there was a bridge to cross over the stream which was the end of the Cat Cat Village territory. From here, its all the way to trek back up the hill to get back to Sapa town.
A buffalo meat trader at Cat Cat Cillage
Herbs and knifes sold in Cat Cat Village
The Cat Cat Bridge that signals the end of the Cat Cat Village boundary