Trekking Cat Cat Village, Sapa in Winter (Jan 2018) – Part 2

Are you ready for Part 2 after the lengthy Part 1 about our 7-hour hike through 3 villages in Winter? I was so ready to rent the boots again but our tour guide told us it was not necessary for Day 2 of trekking. Turned out that our second trek was mostly to visit Cat Cat Village, which is a tourism village that charges an entrance fee.

I’m one of those tourists who like to visit tourist attractions (as long as it’s not too commercialized aka $$$ everywhere) because they tend to be tourist-friendly; convenient to walk and see, with local food that may not be too local (aka suit my tourist palate). Spoiler: Cat Cat Village is my kind of tourist spot.

We started the morning at about 9am as per the previous day. Our tour guide told us we’re picking up a duo to join us today on the way to Cat Cat Village by foot. The duo turned out to be the couple whom we took Sapa train with; Anna and Kareem!

We walked to their hotel from ours, then to another hotel at the edge of Sapa town. The journey after that was just descending down a winding paved road in thick mist. I was not the only one who feared if we have to walk up the same path. Actually, I also wondered why we had to walk that 2.5km to the entrance of Cat Cat Village when the village was clearly accessible by car and we were walking on big roads the whole time. I guess the walk would make sense when we can see beyond the thick white mist. 😆

misty sapa town in winter
Just another misty day in Sapa during Winter.

There was a lot of construction work happening along the roads we walked. It’d be such a major tourist spot in a few years time~

Anyway, my eyes got fixated on the endless pretty local handicrafts and souvenirs once we arrived at Cat Cat Village. So many things to see. So many things to shop! However, we weren’t given any time allowance to shop at all. Is it because we were on trekking tour? 😅

cat cat village shop souvenir
The stairs, the shops and the endless souvenirs in Cat Cat Village reminded me of Jiufen in Taiwan!
sapa street food cat cat village
Street food! We didn’t try anything though.

We walked past all souvenir shops and the throngs of tourists who were there. We walked past some traditional houses too. It felt a little rush actually. My abdomen was pretty weak from the long descending trek the day before so I was cautious as I went down the endless staircase in Cat Cat Village. Wished I had a tummy guard or something.

When we finally stopped, our tour guide told us the empty spot we were standing on has the best backdrop of Sapa town from Cat Cat Village. The photo op spot was empty because…

There’s nothing to see! We were supposed to see a winding road, cable car, endless rice terraces and a school. Do you like this illustration of my imagination? Haha

We continued walking until we arrived at a beautiful garden. Ah, finally something to take photos with, besides misty (no) scenery. I suggest people who snap 50 versions of the same photo to not follow tour because we barely had time to do much posing because continuing our “trek”.

No wonder I didn’t have to rent boots for this “trekking”. We were basically walking through a developed village. Paved road and steps all the way. My feet would sore so bad if I wore the rubber boots on the hard and even road.

We spent quite a while in a traditional Black H’mong house where our tour guide toured us around and told us stories. About how this ethnic has an altar in the house, believes that everything has a spirit, insists to weave and dye linen traditionally, cures ailments via shamans, and practises wife kidnapping.

woman weaving traditional linen
A local woman weaving linen. The fire near her feet was there to warm her up because she was weaving outside her house in Winter.
pigs in village
Spotted 3 piglets roaming the house! Actually, pigs were everywhere when we toured the villages in Sapa because that’s food and money for the locals when the pigs reach 50kg.
cat cat village tour
Our tour guide and the indigo dye used to make traditional attire. The dye has natural scent that the locals like.

We continued the journey to the lower part of the valley to arrive at Cat Cat Waterfall! Finally a scenery we can take a photo with without the mist! I guess it’s because the waterfall is near and the gust kept the mist away from the waterfall.

cat cat waterfall sapa
Does anyone think RK dressed funnily? Anyway, we were Uniqlo Michelin couple during this Winter holiday. More to come? Hehe.

Next activity near the waterfall was to watch local performances in their mini-theater! This was included in the entrance fee already. The locals danced and played traditional flute for over 30 minutes. At the end of the session, they invited the audience to go on stage for bamboo dance with them too. Nice.

cat cat village performance
The locals performed the various traditional dances of the different ethnics in Sapa, Vietnam, wearing the various traditional attire.
cat cat village bamboo dance
Bamboo dance at the end of the show. The bamboos were so strong! They carried and spun women sitting on the bamboos.

The area that we visited next was my favourite. I’m sure it’s a favourite for a lot of girls too because it’s very photo worthy! In fact, I felt that area was built precisely for tourist photo taking.

Before the zigzag bridge over a serene stream.
Swinging on a giant bamboo swing! Weeeee

However, the main reason I loved this area was the manual ferris wheel swing! It was not manned. I went up with 3 other girls — Mab, Anna and a stranger. RK and the other guys helped me operate the ferris wheel on the ground. It was so fun! If only our weight was more evenly distributed, there’d be more thrill. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Our tour guide said we have to catch up because we spent longer than planned while playing at the ferris wheel. So we had to quicken our steps up the valley. And when I say up, I meant up. We kept gaining altitudes until lunch place.

Wonder if that’s the trick to get us hungry and savor lunch because lunch was amazing. The best shredded chicken hor fun I ever eaten, served in the verandah of a little house. Yumssss!

vietnamese chicken noodles
This bowl of chicken hor fun deserves a photo on my blog.

After a big bowl of hor fun soup, watermelon slices and Dalat yogurt, a van arrived to pick up us! Yay! We could have continued trekking longer but our tour guide told us that it’s the same scenery we just walked through (maybe he meant the same white mist-covered view everywhere) so we ended the trekking earlier.

We toyed with the idea to take the cable car up Fansipan Mountain but changed our mind after looking at the price of the ticket. Definitely not worth it when I know what I’m gonna see up there: a blanket of mist and nothing else. 😂

Instead, we decided to get a ride to Sapa Market. We got on electric buggy, which is a public transport there at only VND 6,000 (USD 0.26) per pax. Omg so cheap.

sapa public transport
It was definitely too breezy for a Winter ride but it was fun! And cheap!

The Sapa Market was located at a dusty part of the town. There were a lot of busses and trucks, and construction sites.

The market was good though. Good in the sense prices were fixed so no worry about haggling. All shops seem to sell at the same rate and they don’t even seem to compete with one another although they were selling similar items. Surprisingly, RK allowed me to try some local street snacks. 😍

bamboo sticky rice
About this bamboo sticky rice: RK and I wanted to try. While we were shopping for it, a lady offered us a tester. We ended up buying the tester because we didn’t want more. LOL. They dip this in salted crushed peanut. Need to teach them to add sugar instead.
sapa market dried food souvenir
Dried food for souvenir, anyone? Wished they sell smaller packets for snacking.

I guess the market was not exactly made for tourists because most of them didn’t speak English. Everyone we met at the part of town where our hotel was, could speak English.

We had another hour to spend after shopping at the market. Anna and Kareem were with us the whole time because they didn’t have a plan anyway. We then went to a cafe for coffee and chit chatting with this expat couple who met in Dubai. It was fun having them with us. They were on their last leg of their Vietnam tour. They travelled from South to North of Vietnam at one go!

cong cafe
Cold drinks on a cold day? I definitely became frozen.

At about 5pm, we took our pre-packaged dinner from our hotel and left for Lao Cai train station. Our train was leaving at night 8pm or so but we had to leave Sapa early in case of bad weather and traffic jam.

We were early when we arrived at Lao Cai so our tour agent dropped us at a restaurant near the train station to kill time, like most of the tourists who filled the restaurant. They must be a partner of these tour agents.

Something interesting happened here. A local who barely spoke any English came to offer shoe cleaning service at VND 30,000 (USD 1.30). My shoes were not really dirty because I didn’t hike on the dirt road with them. But after I saw how they magically cleaned Alicia’s and Victor’s muddy shoes under 10 minutes, I wanted to clean my shoes also. Lol.

There was nothing to explore in Lao Cai town so we lazed in the restaurant until it was time to board the same sleeper train back to Hanoi.

The sleep this round felt shorter after exhausting a lot of energy trekking (and imagining) the beautiful Sapa villages. 😊

And that was the end of our adventure at Sapa in Winter! We headed to Halong Bay upon arrival at Hanoi for another overnight trip.

Before I move on to Halong Bay, I just want to say Sapa was beautiful; I mean I imagined it really beautiful when the mist clears (LOL). I’m glad my amazing imagination kept me satisfied. *pats myself on the back*

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