Although my trip through Vietnam wasn't blowing my socks off I had hopes for my last stop, the only iconic thing that I was looking forward to, a trek through the rice terraces of Sapa. I skipped a visit to Halong Bay to give myself enough time, money and energy to devote to Sapa, the rice terraces, and minority villages. Instead of joining a pre arranged trip from Hanoi I decided to do the visit on my own, I booked my overnight sleeper train after only one full day in Hanoi and was soon on my way. Everything about the train ride was straightforward and easy, as far as night travel goes, but the second we arrived the negotiations started. I heard from multiple sources, including fellow travelers that the minibus from Lao Cai to Sapa should be a flat 50,000 dong, no problem. Not sure where these people got off the train but the guys were starting with offers of 100,000, had one down to 80k when I ran into a group of 3 other women negotiating with a group of drivers. They were adamant not to go above 60k, so I decided to join ranks. Eventually, we settled on a fair, but not really, 70,000 dong so we packed in for the 45-minute ride through the winding hills up to Sapa.
After three action packed days on the back of a motorbike, in boats, exploring cities and sweating a lot with my tour guide Mr. Kim, it was time for our adventure to come to an end. The final day started at 7:30 as Mr. Kim and I decided it'd be a good idea to try and beat the heat. The plan for the day was to ride bicycles around the small village of Ben Tre, exploring and observing the local way of living.
I knew that I wanted to pay a visit to the Mekong Delta but wasn't entirely sure how I would go about doing so. My mom has a friend that is from a smaller city near Can Tho which is a bit further into the Delta than some tourists venture. I knew that I wanted to visit there as well as the small town of Ben Tre, no particular reasons for either but they just stood out to me. I researched a few different bus and ferry options but was soon able to throw that all out the widow, thanks to my new friend Mr. Kim.
I was warned that I'd either love it or hate it. For some Vietnam is a food and adventure paradise while others just can't seem to find their grove. With a turbulent history and remains of division between north and south, it's an interesting place to say the least.