So Long, Soggy Sa Pa

Tonight’s my last night in Sa Pa and it’s clearly time to go. It’s the only thing that’s clear, actually – it’s been totally and completely fogged in for the entire day today – drizzling, pouring, lightening, thundering  – and this sun bunny has had enough! It’s cold (no, really, it is!), damp and no place for me to stay any longer. I’m so grateful I got to have a day and a half of mostly clear weather so I could get a glimpse of the stunning landscape here. Not so much trekking, but so be it. I’ll have to wait until northern Lao for that. But that won’t be long now.

After seven weeks in Vietnam, I am saying good-bye to this country. But it will take me two days of overland travel to get to Lao and from what I’ve heard, it’s gonna be a wild ride! Tomorrow I take an early morning bus to Dien Bien Phu, a place famous for its part in the American war, but now a remote outpost of Vietnam that is rarely touristed. I understand the trip is through more stunning landscape, so hopefully the ride will be exhilarating; although it will be yet another local bus, so that will add to the adventure for sure!

I’ll arrive in DBP in the late afternoon and since there’s only one very early morning (5:30!) bus to Lao each day, I’ll spend the night there and head to Lao the next day. There’s where the trip gets dicey. It’s mostly a dirt road all the way and the way is 8-10 hours long! Wish me luck. If we stay on the road, I’ll be pleased.

I’ll land in the small, sleepy village of Muang Khua in Lao and imagine I’ll spend the night there after the road-weary day. It sits along the Nam Ou River and is surrounded with mountains – also not so touristed, but growing in interest, both for boating on the river and trekking through the countryside.

I’m excited to be venturing into yet a new country and culture (although I’ve been in southern Lao, the north has its own culture and Hill Tribes) and I’m ready to be warm again! (Remind me I said that after I return to high 90’s weather!)

So, this is almost good-bye to Vietnam, too – my time here has been filled with beautiful nature, beautiful people and outstanding experiences – from cruisin’ through the Mekong Delta to motorbiking through the Central Highlands, from Hoi An to Hue, from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh and Mai Chau and now here in the very north of Sa Pa – what a trip it’s been! While it’s not an easy country to travel in – especially because of the density of people and the almost-constant noise, both of which have wearied and exhausted me at times – still, I wouldn’t trade my time being here!

I’ve been challenged, pushed and stretched and have appreciated my tenacity, patience and especially my humor! And I’ve learned the importance of taking plenty of time to move at a leisurely pace and find the pockets of peace that have sustained me.

So it’s early to sleep for me now as I prepare for this long journey. I am battling yet another cold; and having successfully fought off the last one, I hope I can do the same again. I actually bought a liter of Tropicana OJ this evening – Florida OJ in Vietnam – crazy!

Aloha Sa Pa … Goodnight Vietnam!

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