Muong Hoa Valley was highly recommended by a fellow traveler of mine as one of the spectacular scenes he had ever seen during his stay in Vietnam, so there I went!
I had thought of all-inclusive Sapa tours but quickly discard that option since booking a regular tour and being compelled to follow a schedule are not my thing. He introduced me to a local woman who lived in the valley; she was happy to show me around and kind enough to offer me a bed for the night with her family. So basically, I had my own tour guide who knows the valley like the back of her hand, the most exotic homestay and the cheapest Sapa tour that anyone could find.
Getting to the valley
At 6 in the morning, Ban, my newly-made friend, and the amateur tour guide was waiting for me on the way to the valley. When I contacted her a few days before, she said we should start our journey early to avoid the crowds of tourists and pack light since she had everything I might need at her home.
Do the sight-seeing
Ban was wearing the traditional dress of her tribe with strange embroidered patterns and shiny silver pieces of jewelry. She wound a black scarf lined with several yarn pom-poms around her head and worn a broad smile on the face. She has an overall impression of a super friendly person that you can rely on. After greeting and asking me about my trip, she led me on a craggy dirty trail to start my journey.
Muong Hoa terraced fields (Source: Internet)
We made a steep climb up a hillside to have a commanding view of the area. Up there, I had a 360-degree panorama of green-capped mountains fading far into the distance. Above me was an unending, brochure-blue sky that appears to teem with wildlife. Birds of all sizes fluttered overhead at all times of the day.
A panoramic view of the valley (Source: Internet)
As I looked down before my gaze were lush green terraced fields falling away in steep slopes to the valley below. Tiny bungalows strung out along a winding trail running through the valley, framed in verdant patch of rice, vegetables, and bushes of wildflowers. Ban pointed at a house with a loofah trellis on a side and said that was her home and we would spend the night there. I was thrilled to see it as I had been tired of concrete western-style hotels during my stay in Vietnam. My friend told me that Ban speaks decent English and is quite a chatter-box but as she realized that I was taking in the view and sketching to preserve something on my Sapa valley tour, she kept quiet in order not to interrupt my thoughts and checked on me from time to time, which I appreciated a lot.
A tree-lined stream (Source: Internet)
As we continued to the valley, a tree-lined stream came into sight; substantial volumes of water were gushing over the rocks. Ban said that was where we would head next, the other side of the stream to enter the village. There was a bridge but I preferred skipping it as the water seemed just knee-deep and I wanted to save my legs. Ban and I wade across the stream to the other side and follow a dirt trail that runs through the fields. Ban said that she would show me how her people make fabric as she assumed that I would love it, and she was right. I found the process in which people wave and embroider cloth fascinating. Ban even let me try myself under her supervision. After a few minutes of awkwardness, I finally learned the very basic skills of making a piece of cloth.
Muong Hoa at night
Ban introduced me to her family and showed me the guest room where I would sleep that night. She even called a friend of her in the town to book a hotel room for me as it would be much cheaper that way. As dusk was drawing near, I joined Ban making dinner. She said that the everyday eating of the family was usually modest but when guests arrived, a feast must be thrown! All the dishes were made from locally-acquired ingredients; they were hot and fresh and absolutely delicious. As streetlights were non-existent, stars became brighter outside the window and the crickets chirped monotonously. I slowly fell asleep in the cool air and evening breeze of the valley.
Thanks to Ban and her family’s hospitality, my Sapa valley tour was absolutely wonderful and full of joy. The rest of my stay in the town was spent on hiking the Fansipan which I would share in another post.
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