On our second day in Sapa we signed up for a tour through one of the many tour agencies for a “full day” trek to two villages. It was $10 per person, including guide, entrance fees, lunch, and transportation back to our hotel after the trek. We were a bit disappointed that our tour guide was not a Sapa local, as promised, but she was very friendly and tried her best to answer our questions. We’d recommend the trek to Ta Phin Village, since it is through some beautiful country, it isn’t too difficult of a walk, and we didn’t see any other tourists until we got to Ta Phin Village. Just be prepared for an encounter with the Red Zai women.
About 3 km into our 13 km hike we crossed a small creek and saw four Red Zai women across the way. I thought they were waiting to cross the creek in the other direction, but as soon as we came close they started talking with us, and then following us.
We all told them we weren’t interested in buying anything, but we only managed to discourage 2 of the 4. The other two women followed us for the remaining 10 km!
The children in the village may not have the fancy toys that western children have, but they appear just as happy, if not more so.
Children start working early here. Girls start learning embroidery at age 4, giving them plenty of time to practice since it’s a requirement for marriage.
The Black Hmong use indigo leaves to dye their clothes a deep black color, which takes multiple rounds of dyeing. Their black clothing is the reason this particular group of Hmong are referred to as “Black Hmong.” Many of the villagers are starting to wear western clothes bought in shops in Sapa, but they still wear their traditional outfits for festivals and selling souvenirs.
We stopped in the Red Zai village for lunch and afterward the women began to pester us to buy something from them. We again told them we didn’t want to buy anything, but they insisted that we had said we’d buy something “later” and that they had followed us so far. The women continued to pester Filipa, but she eventually got them to leave us alone, although they were quite rude and disappointed in us for not making a single purchase. We thought our experience was bad, but on the way back we passed a group of 3 foreigners, who had 30 women escorting them! Maybe 2 following the 4 of us wasn’t so bad! 😉
There were tons of black pigs finishing what was left of the previous season’s rice crop. There were also lots of super cute puppies and baby goats.
Some of the village children run over to the edge of their yard or peak their head out the door to wave and say “hi” or “xin chau” to the passing tourists.
From left to right: Heidi; our guide Duong (pronouced Zoong); Mariana; and Filipa; (George is taking the photo)