Sa Pa, part IPosted: September 12, 2012
Debbi and I began our Sa Pa adventure on the night train – it’s a 10-hour train ride (on the slow train, the fast train takes about 8 hours but it’s more expensive) from Hanoi. It says “Hard bed” on our tickets, and we were both expecting, frankly, a slab of wood. So imagine how excited we were to see mattresses (a little thin, but hey, it’s not the “medieval dungeon” vision we had in mind), pillows, and blankets! Such a pleasant surprise.
After the train arrived, it was an hour-long bus ride from Lào Cai through some gorgeous mountain passes to Sa Pa. We checked into the hotel, got some food, and headed out to Hàm Rồng (Dragon’s Jaws) Park. Here there are stairways going up the rocky mountain, with different gardens and beauty spots scattered along the way, so you can take a leisurely walk, stopping wherever you want and exploring whatever strikes your fancy. It’s exceptionally pretty, even in the fall when there aren’t a lot of flowers (I can only imagine what it’s like in the spring, with the orchids and peach blossoms in full bloom), and the thick fog and light rain we encountered only added to the atmosphere. Being the nerds that we are, we imagined that this must be what the Highgarden of House Tyrell looks like.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Debbi and Duc’s outing without some WTF moment, and here it came in the form of the Garden of the Twelve Chinese Zodiacs, where you’d find giant statues of Mickey Mouse, Tom from Tom and Jerry, and Scooby Doo. I mean, the mouse, cat, and dog are parts of the Chinese Zodiacs, but I doubt this was what they had in mind. Good thing our zodiacs (dragon for Debbi and tiger for me) are way classier.