One step on the land of this mountainous region, one can never forget the magic of Sapa.
It took 10 hours by train to reach this far away land from Hanoi. A very rough, tiring and somewhat dangerous journey for us actually. Though, I heard that the government has spent great efforts to improve transportations for the sake of local and tourism during the last 10 years, but from my point of view, it probably will take another 10 years to bring this roads up to the standards of the modern world. The question is: Should the roads be more opened to these destructive foreigners or should this pure land of magic be conserved the way it has been for thousand years?
I have heard of these H’ Mong tribal since I was very, very young in Vietnam, and then watched a movie made by Clint Eastwood several years ago in California about the culture of this people. Yet the face to face meeting with them is what brought me to my feet.
Originally, thousands years ago (the tour guy told me the exact era, but I can’t remember, sorry) this H’Mong tribe is from the far South of China. During the war between the Chinese Emperor and the Lords of tribes, a small group of H’Mong civilians ran down South and reached the border of Vietnam, Sapa. From a small group, hiding among the mountains, years by years, they reclaimed, developed these wild mountains and built their lives.
Due to the geography and climate, life here is forever unpredictable. Every year, stories of tragedy happen again and again. Like the day we were there, we heard many houses were swept away by floods and heavy rains. People were homeless and devastated. Yet, the next morning, tree trunks, palm leaves, bricks were brought to the rescue and we witnessed locals were gathering together to rebuild again and to help out the ones in-need.
During two days visiting, we saw mostly women as they are the main bread-makers of the family. Women here do everything, cultivating rice, harvesting, sewing, shopping for food, cooking and of course, raising children. Beautiful and inspiring women I must say. We all were shocked as we were greeted in English while we approached the village of RED TRIBAL on one of the mountain (the other, BLACK TRIBAL) They are recognized for the way women dresses here. Red Tribal people wears red and black clothe, while the other wearing black and anything else but red.
I asked how did they speak English so well and was told just by talking with foreigners. Not many citizens in Hanoi (capital of Vietnam) speak fluent English like these women, I noticed. Naturally, they speak their own native language (not Chinese), Vietnamese and now English. That is quite impressive for people who live so far away from the cities and who walking around all day up and down the mountains with children on their backs.
Well, life is still very, very poor in the villages. Ruggero was shocked to see how they live and how people managed to go around. Step inside one house, we were brought back immediately to centuries ago. The way people sleeps, cooks, entertain and commutes.
Now and there, we spot couple girls who start to learn the new modern way of life and be able to talk and learn more about their culture which was nice.
It was exhausting the day we came back home to Saigon from the train, but it’s worthy all the troubles. I pray and hope that soon, stability and comfort will be there in Sapa for all these lovely and beautiful people to enjoy life and to lift the burden off the backs of these magical women. For us, they will forever in our hearts and minds.