Exploring Sapa, Vietnam

Ivan, Jennifer and I arrived in Hekou around 6 am on November 8, 2008.  It was right by the Vietnam border.  So, we were still in China.  We met an American couple from California.  They were also going to Sapa, Vietnam.  We all had to wait until 8 am when the border opened up.  We went to a restaurant to get some breakfast.  We all seemed very tired.  The servers didn’t understand English.  There was a man who spoke English.  He told us that there wasn’t a working ATM in Sapa.  He said that we could exchange Yuan into Dong (Vietanmese currency) with him.  Ivan and the guy we met went to the ATM to pull out money.  We had some breakfast.  We just chatted some Then we went inside the office so we can get into Vietnam.  Everybody filled out the appropriate paperwork.  Ivan and the couple went to line up for the xray machine for the bags.  The worker there kept looking at Jennifer’s paperwork and passport.  He asked if she was with them and she said yes.  She didn’t know what was taking so long.  Finally, she went to the line as well.  She forgot to put her middle name on the form.  I guess the guy didn’t like the way her 6 was either.  The Chinese do confiscate China Lonely Planet books even if you’re leaving China.  If they see books in the machine, they’ll take it.  I’m so glad they didn’t take my bananas away.  Don’t tell anyone, but I have a secret stash.  We made it to Vietnam and we had to fill out more paperwork.  It seemed to take them forever.

We left the office and were searching for a bus to Sapa.  The bus station was a few minutes away.  A guy approached us about a bus.  So, we decided to take it.  We were the only ones in the bus.  The driver wanted more people on the bus.  Another guy kept trying to find people going to Sapa.  It was taking forever.  Ivan tried to offer the guy some money so we could leave sooner.  This didn’t work out though.  They did have to take some furniture and rice.  Also, we picked up a few guys on the way.  Finally, we were on our way to the mountain village Sapa.  Jennifer kept falling asleep.  She was so weary from the bus ride.  I also wanted to rest as soon as possible.  We arrived in Sapa and people started bugging us to check out their hotel rooms.  We didn’t book anything and either did the American couple.  We checked into the Lotus Hotel.


We wanted the Mountain View Hotel but the rooms they had didn’t have a good view.  We placed our luggage inside the room.

We were all so hungry.  We chose the Buffalobell Restaurant.  Ivan and Jennifer got the set menu.  It included a soup, spring rolls, chicken with vegetables and fruit.  Ivan and Jennifer both loved the pumpkin soup and spring rolls.


I had the Steamed Banana Leaf.  It was banana and herbs steamed in a leaf.  It was so tasty!  We walked back to the hotel.  We took a long four hour nap.  It was much needed rest for everybody.

We left the hotel and looked a restaurant for dinner.  We went to eat at Little Sapa.  Ivan and Jennifer ordered some rice wine.  I got the banana juice.  Although, I wish it was banana wine.  The rice wine tasted sweet.  It was pretty strong.  Ivan ordered the shrimp and banana spring rolls.  I liked it so much that I ordered two more orders for me!  Ivan got the sauteed chicken with vegetables.  Jennifer got the grilled chicken on Vietnamese sticks (basically chicken shish-ka-bob).  The food was real good but the portions weren’t very big.  Everybody was tired, so we headed back to the hotel to sleep.

We had breakfast at the Highland Bakery on November 9, 2008.  The breakfast there is good.  The scrambled eggs are actually an omelet though.  The night earlier we decided to pass on the Baca Market since it’s a three hour ride.  We did walk to the market in town.  There’s lots of food to buy like fruits and meat.  I saw lots of bananas even green ones!


I wanted to buy them all.  But, unfortunately I didn’t have enough money.  At the end of the market, we discovered Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel.  There was a sign in front that said Homemade Ice Cream.  We were very interested and went inside.  Ivan and Jennifer wanted chocolate but they were out.  I had banana ice cream.  Ivan and Jennifer got mango sorbet with wafers.  It was delicious!  The owner is a British guy.  He gave us some tips.

We walked down to the Cat Cat Village.  It was nice scenery.


You walk all the way down and there’s a great waterfall.  We had some guys take us back up on motorbikes.  We had lunch at a restaurant inside the market.  It wasn’t anything special.

We rented motorbikes for a few hours.  We checked out Sapa.  It has a great lake, skinny houses and a church.


We went to the restaurant Baguette and Chocolat.  They have awesome pastries here.  Ivan and Jennifer got a chocolate tart and an orange & chocolate thing.  I got a banana tart.  It was certainly heavenly!

We went back to Sapa Rooms for dinner.  The place was packed.  We waited a few minutes for a table.  Ivan and Jennifer got the make your own fresh spring rolls with chicken.  They really liked those.  They also shared the chicken with caramel.  It was alright.  I got the sauteed banana and pineapple dish.  I liked it.  I had another banana ice cream for dessert.  Ivan and Jennifer got the mango sorbet and chocolate ice cream combo.  Ivan asked for wafers but we got small chocolate chip cookies.  It was a good mix.  We had a great day with lovely food and nice sights!

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