It gets cold in Vietnam?
11/15/11 - 11/16/11
As our day of beautiful views came to an end, we arrived at a small house where we would be spending the night. We chose to do a home stay program, where one family hosts us for the night and cooks dinner and gives us beds. We were happy to find that all 10 of us would be staying in the same place, there was a second story loft area that had some cushions on the floor, heavy blankets, and mosquito nets for us to sleep with.
The sun set at about 5pm, leaving us in the dark sitting around a table waiting for the electricity to kick in. The "town" (about 5 buildings.. maybe) doesn't turn on electricity until 6pm. Dinner was a whole bunch of food - literally plates full of food that were passed around. Of course I only stuck with the rice and vegetables, of which there was plenty. We sat around talking with our guide and host about the area, the different type of people who live in the area (there are different hill tribe groups in each of the different villages), and where we would be going the next day.
One thing about Sapa: It is in the north, close to the border of China.. and it is winter in the north (which we forget about in Singapore). Therefore it gets cold (and by cold, I mean 40's). Please note the winter jackets and pants we all are wearing in the picture below.
And then came the rice wine...
Let me explain rice wine: it is not wine. All of the things we read about the trip, and all the people we talked to before, told us drinking rice wine with the locals would be a highlight of the trip. Rice wine is a taken in shots, and is about 18% to 25% alcohol (36 to 50 proof). We had bottles of rice wine given to us... and they kept coming and coming and coming. Every time something happened, anything at all, our host would pour us another round of rice wine and make a toast.
We don't know if we were a younger group than normally stays at this house, or if they host groups every night and supply them with endless rice wine, but either way we aren't sure how this family handles it. We were all asleep by 11:30 (dinner and rice wine started at about 6:30), and when we got up the next morning everything was picked up and put away like we had never been there at all.
Waking up the next morning was an entirely different experience. Because we were sleeping in a loft above the main room, all the noises from downstairs traveled up to where we were sleeping. We are 99% certain we awoke to a slaughter happening below us. We heard animals in the house, scary loud noises, and lots of wings flapping. We all just looked around at each other but no one really said anything, we were all in shock. We should have guessed that is how they get their food, there are animals running free everywhere in Sapa, wandering the trails and doing their own thing, but we didn't expect to wake up to a slaughter.
The homestay was such a fun experience, I would do it again in an instant. Our group was a ton of fun to be with for these few days, and our host and guide were amazing.