Chuc Mung Nam Moi! It means Happy New Year in Vietnamese 🙂
Chinese Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in Vietnam, everyone is off work for a week and goes to their hometowns to celebrate the New Years with their close ones.
It was a perfect opportunity for me to travel a bit and explore the country. Since it was still quite cold in Hanoi all my friends went somewhere south to enjoy the warmth and get some sun. Ironically I decided to the opposite, as if I haven’t suffered enough from the cold weather in the city, I went up north to the mountains, close to the Chinese border – Sapa.
I packed warm socks, last bits of the Polish liquor for the warmth and took off for the next adventure. Since everyone told me that Sapa is going to be freezing cold in February I wasn’t sure what was I getting myself into. But now, I can honestly tell you that it was totally worth it. Sapa is hands down one of the most magical places I’ve seen in SE Asia!
I was extremely lucky with the weather! I didn’t expect to come back home with a sunburn on my face! It was sunny and warm everyday which made hiking in the mountains way more enjoyable. The nights were still super cold though, I slept with the gloves and jacket on 🙂
So why Sapa is so famous? It’s the rice fields, endless rice fields… The view is so beautiful that it made me take dozens of pictures or even more! I just couldn’t get enough of it:) The city itself has become very touristic (oh how predictable…) but if you just go to the small villages nearby you’ll still get a taste of the authentic, rural life of the local people. There are several tribe minorities in that region, they all have their own language, culture and beautiful traditional clothes 🙂 The majority are H’mong people and I had the pleasure of getting to know them a bit.
Staying in Sapa and local villages was an eye opening experience that put again my rather pampered life into perspective. I’ve met people who were illiterate and somehow managed to learn English. My hostess from the village is my age and she has already 6 children and one more on the way. She gave birth to all 6 of them alone in the house while her husband was waiting outside… Forget about showers or toilets! Most kids these days go to primary school, very few make it to highschool as it’s not free of charge. They all have a smile on their faces though!
I left Sapa feeling extremely grateful for having a choice that not all women do. I can work on a farm, be a housewife or have any kind of career I desire. It’s up to me. It’s a privilege to have options like that. It’s something that I usually take for granted.