Early in the morning we met up with Vang, the lady who had offered us a homestay yesterday. She offered to show us around the local villages before we headed to her place so she hopped on Zach's bike and off we went:
We rode about 15 kms along some of the same roads we had ridden yesterday but then off in a different direction. We dropped down into the valley and rode to a small village, all the way along narrow dirt and broken pavement roads. We stopped at a restaurant alongside a river and Vang set about arranging some lunch. Zach and I took the opportunity to shoot some photos and do a little local riding.
These three ladies crossed the bridge and provided a good photo op:
Zach on the bridge:
Vang, our host:
With her limited English Vang explained to us that her house did not have a "toily" (which I eventually figured out meant "toilet" after, in response to my question if they were Christian or Buddhist, she explained that although her daughter went to "catholy" school they were not "catholy"!). So she proposed that we should spend the night at the house of another lady whose house had a "toily" after having dinner at her house. So we rode with her on Zach's bike to her village and she directed us to a house where we left the bikes and set out on a hike - a hike straight up the hills into the tiered rice paddies surrounding the village.
Up we go, Vang and me
In the far north it was still planting season at the high altitude. The farmers were preparing the tiered paddies for planting. This fellow was using his water buffalo to prepare the tier, going back and forth creating the furrows:
The hike was pretty intense, at least for an old guy like me. Zach is a bit of a billy goat, especially after climbing in the Himalayas and Mont Blanc on his travels, and he bounded up leaving me way behind. The villagers had erected sophisticated irrigation systems and really had quite a neat set up.
In the evening we made our way over to Vangs' house where we met her family and they prepared dinner for us. The housing is very primitive, dirt floor, single room structure with separated areas for cooking and living space. The sleeping area was in a hay loft above. Electricity was hooked up to the village about 5 years ago and they do have TV and limited lighting. It was quite dark inside, this not being evident in my photos due to the flash lighting up the scene.
Vang preparing dinner:
Zach with Vang and her family
After spending a few hours with Vang and her family she walked us back to where we were spending the night, the house of a lovely lady who earns a living by basically running a primitive inn at which she provides board and lodging to Westerners who come to the area for hiking and home stays. There were four Canadians and their local guide, a man and woman from England (who were volunteering as English teachers at a school in Sapa), the homeowner and her helper. As we arrived they were all sitting down to dinner. We joined them thinking we would just enjoy their company and not eat but once we tasted the delicious food we had no option but to join in
We spent a fun evening with the group and enjoyed our stay.