March 14th was a very big day. After all the hard work in Singapore, we were about to be put to the test. It was the 6-hour trek. We woke up at 8am. To our dismay, it was foggy and there was a drizzle. It was also quite cold because of the poor conditions. We wished that the weather would improve later on. I was very excited and my hopes were high that we would benefit a lot, physically and mentally, from the trek.
We had a bath and ate a typical breakfast before conserving our energy for one hour in our room.
At 9.30am, we left our room to meet our guide at the hotel’s lobby. She greeted us happily. She said her name was Bal and she is 22 years old. I was excited to go on our trek through the grasslands and hope to take good photos of the villages or farms.
For a while, we strolled on the side of the main road with other tourists out of Sapa town. At one part, we left the road and walked on a sandy path. Then in front of us was the adventurous downhill path which was narrow. This was it. I was nervous but knew I could do it. The others in our pack either waited or adjusted their walking sticks for the muddy walk. I saw the hills and valleys, waiting for us. It was beautiful. There were also two ladies who gave up from even trying to go with us because they didn’t expect the trek to be that difficult and they didn’t have proper equipment and due to their age. So Bal requested her partner to send them to our meeting point halfway.
I was in the lead as I slid every now and then on the muddy steep path. It was scary. However, with my reliable walking sticks, I was able to keep my balance. On the contrary, my parents were too pressured by the sight. If looks could kill, I guess they were about to give up. Bal also had assistants at hand. I guess their help saved my parents lives for a number of times. One of her assistants was also piggy backing a two month old baby! Bal said the baby was just one month old. I thought that H’mongs are hardworking as they even have to work with their babies with them. So, that assistant decided to carry her baby around during work. Another H’mong helped us carry our plastic bag with books and stationery inside. We were going to give them to the school children of Lao Chai.
We came to this sheltered checkpoint where we rested. My parents were exhausted but happy we could come to a halt for a while. I was ready for anything since it was just as easy as pie. We also were in a life in heaven as we saw spectacular views every now and then. It was just ruined by all that fog covering some of the beautiful background. I was amazed by the breathtaking sight because we don’t see this in Singapore. I was amazingly far from them since my parents who were at the far back while I was in the front.
After this part of the journey, I was not even tired! (I’m neither boasting nor lying) But my parents were! I also couldn’t believe I was there then. It was as if it was a total dream. A few funny moments that showed their true colours was when my parents were worried that I would be exhausted. I was totally fine. And, when the guide asked them the same question, they replied with a bold ‘yes’ even though they weren’t. After all, they didn’t want to embarrass themselves!
From what I’ve heard, we were setting course for a bridge which would lead us to Lao Chai. It was a local village. Along it was a road used by motorcycles.
Before we came there, we came to this uphill street which was also used by vehicles. That was one of the areas which we didn’t need to use our trekking sticks. We also came to this area were we had to lift our legs up as the path was blocked was bamboo poles! It was quite tough, to be honest.
So far, I was really having a day of a lifetime there. The sights and sound were things which we rarely see and hear in Singapore. I only observe these things in trails which have animal like habitats in nature reserves in Singapore. We also had a little peek on what was life like here when we saw the ill-structured kampongs of the farmers. I knew I was very lucky to be living in Singapore with all the advantages there. I felt sorry for the locals. Despite that, I knew this was the local’s way of life and they are happy with simple life.
After crossing the bridge I mentioned, we kept our sticks at bay since from now ‘til Lao Chai, it would be concrete pathways. I also realized the background conditions were improving. That was good news.
We then came to this school for the kids of Lao Chai to study in. Our guide told us education is free, however some tribes still don’t go to school. Outside it was their soccer field where PE is held. That was the school where we gave our books and stationery before continuing our walk to the restaurant where we would have our lunch.
With all that trekking, we came to this restaurant where we met our two missing ladies. We were supposed to meet them halfway, as I told you previously. Despite that, they explained to us that the maiden decided to continue without waiting for us which was presumed by the assistant.
During the action, there were also a fellow couple from Singapore. I talked to them about Singapore matters with another Spaniard who joined us in the conversation. We soon bonded into friends. It was fun to interact with them.