Sapa - northwest of Hanoi, close to China
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  • Sapa (Sa Pa) was the mountain resort for the French and is north-west of Hanoi, not far from the border to China. The 'base town', Lao Cai is approximately 7 km from the border. The surrounding area of Sapa is inhabited by the ethnic minority people and are generally not of the Viet Nam race. They still dress in their traditional clothes, which make them an attraction for the visitor.

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    The dining area of Chapa Garden Hotel where we stayed. A very cosy & currently 4 bedroom establishment
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    Doing the usual thing we can't get away from - using the internet & eating chocolate
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    Front of the hotel
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    The rather bland street on which most hotels and restaurants were located on (Cau May St)
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    View down the valley close to Sapa town. The Hoang Lien Son range of mountains dominates the district, which is at the eastern extremity of the Himalayas
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    Same view, slightly different angle
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    Many of the houses simply perched precariously on the slopes
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    Another view from the edge of the town. A hotel to the right with some great views
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    Tending the veggies
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    Another typical view from Sapa to the valley and mountains
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    People live in these houses ... and it gets very cold in winter too.
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    Another example of a typical home around Sapa.
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    Looking back at the town - Sapa was the resort hideaway for the French particularly during the warmer months in Hanoi
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    A restaurant with a great view that we ate at. Food was quite good too ... except for the rather rude Americans that came pointing at the food asking "What is that?" They were f...ing springrolls!
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    Closer view - to the left is the motorbike we had hired for the day
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    Nearby view out the window of the restaurant. Note person using the well outside the house to wash clothes
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    Not quite sure where we took this photo
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    Farm house
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    The Red H'mong minority people selling their craft in town
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    On a motorbike ride around the area
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    Someone showing off that he can ride a bike
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    Central Sapa in background
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    On the way down to 'Cat Cat Village' of the Black H'mong ethnic minority people
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    A little closer to the village. Pigs were always roaming wild and never caged
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    We had to take a picture of the two ducks
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    Some of the houses in Cat Cat village
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    This was a decidedly flimsy bridge
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    Not that we have never seen a cow, but this one seemed rather friendly
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    Notice the nose ring
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    Waterfall in Cat Cat village
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    Posing near the waterfalls
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    Think this used to or still houses turbine engines to harness energy from the waterfall
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    Village stall near the waterfalls selling traditional H'mong craft
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    Childhood freedom
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    Kids playing (or were they working?) in a nearby open area
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    The lake in central Sapa
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    The Black H'mong minority peoples selling their craft in the town. They are industrious, can be tenacious but always had a smile
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    Family of Black H'mong walking into town
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    A H'mong school south of Sapa
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    The scenery of the Sa Pa region in large part reflects the relationship between the minority people and nature. This is seen especially in the paddy fields carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the Hoang Lien Mountains.
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    Terraced hillsides - a typical scene throughout the area. Note terraces on opposite side of valley as well
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    Close up of farm houses amongst the terraces
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    Another group of houses amongst the terraces
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    Another wooden house that must become freezing cold in winter
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    Posing for the camera in front of some houses in the valley
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    Close up of houses in valley. We did notice plenty of tourist down that way, so it must be one of those 'must see' places
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    Topas Ecolodge - fancy expensive accommodation a distance from Sapa and with a view to match
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    Red H'mong ethinic minority on a motorbike
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    Red Clunite minority on a motorbike. Note the winding road in the distance that we had come on
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    Cluster of ramshackle houses
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    These looked like Mongolian horses - seen on our motorbike ride
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    Typical Vietnamese scene of waterbuffalo in padi field (no padi growing at this time of year though)
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    Mother pig with piglets in front of man carrying bamboo pole for use as irrigation pipe or other construction
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    This is how you get gas in some parts of the area
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    Coffee break after a long (and cold) motorbike ride
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    The little things on the skewers we were told are 'baby chickens'. Not sure if it is pigeons next to them, but it looks like small instestine marinated in chilli to the left
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    Mostly chicken and some fish. Nothing really unusual
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    Sapa market - great place to shop, but tourists get hassled constantly
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    Think the cow was just laid on the table and butchered. I'm sure you could buy hoof and all to take home
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    We started referring to these as 'Legs Up Chicken'
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    Not a pleasant site, but reality. Lassie isn't always a pet
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    Fiesty Red H'mong minority