After the celebrations on Friday we made our way back towards the aptly named Hotel Amazing in Hanoi to drop off our bags and catch the overnight train to Sa Pa. The train was an experience in itself, and after the inevitable Harry Potter discussion everyone headed back to their surprisingly comfortable carriages for a good night’s sleep. We arrived at the station early in the morning and boarded the bus that would bring us into the town. The terrain was drastically different to what we had seen around Hanoi, with spectacular mountain ranges and terraced rice fields to keep us occupied during the bus journey. After our breakfast we were given a tour around the town and encountered some of the local ethnic minorities, of which there are fifty-four different types in Vietnam. We soon acquired our own personal escort of Black Hmong women, almost all of whom managed to sell us something or other. We then set out for a leisurely walk to where we would be staying for the night, giving us another chance to take in the beautiful scenery.
We arrived at the home-stay, were deftly parted from our money by our Hmong friends and given the rest of the evening to relax. The following day we were taken on a walk of the valley and a visit to home typical of the area. For some, unknown reason we had to leave the home quite suddenly and continue on our walk, stopping at a river along the way. Then it was back to the home-stay to grab our bags, leave their delicious cooking behind us and journey back to the town, where we were able to explore the local markets and refine our bargaining skills. On our way back to the train station we stopped by the border of Vietnam, and we were able to look across the river that divided the two countries and see China. After another, well-needed sleep on the train we were back in Hanoi.