We learned quickly not to respond to a single question put to us by the Hmong. Sounds brutal but that was the only way they finally left us alone. When I played deaf and dumb, my Hmong shouted a final insult, “I don’t like you…you don’t have money.” How true! Seven kilometers later, it was off the road into the Sapa Valley past houses selling water, beer, stale snickers bars, offering home stays, with most tourists still followed by tag teams of Hmong.
The rain had stopped and weather was now hot and humid. Dripping sweat beads past rice terraces, little shops. One store was advertising “peasant alcohol” for sale…View image, stopped in another house for lunch (the hotel had sent food on ahead for cleanliness) but the four of us were such fast walkers, no one was hungry, little children were playing in the rice fields…View image, and a man was making meat deliveries from his motorcycle to the local villagers…View image.
As a parent/grandparent, it always stunned me what freedom the littlest child had. Standing along busy highways and roads, playing in rushing streams and roaming through villages by themselves or with other small children. Thankfully, I never saw any injuries or deaths.
Across suspension bridges…View image, along the river and through Ta Van Commune, consisting of 6 villages, 400 houses and 3,000 inhabitants.
Sitting and drinking water and tea in a Zai village at a little homestay, Myriam finally caved in and started buying from one of the hovering Hmong. All they had to see or hear was, “How much?”…and the scene rapidly disintergrated into what resembled a shark feeding frenzy. Goods, purses, earrings dangled from every hand in front of Myriam’s eyes…shouts of “…buy from me…you buy from her…you buy from me now…” Then ex-Marine succumbed. He really wanted to buy from an older lady but she hung tough and wouldn’t come down in price. If she wouldn’t, four or five others would and the little Hmong swarmed around him.
I was laughing so hard while filming the video below that it’s a wonder anything came out. What an experience! Mr. Hi was waiting at the end of the road for the ride back to Sapa with just a few short hours left to enjoy ourselves. Tomorrow was going to be an extremely long day to the Sunday Bac Ha Market, Lao Cai and the overnight train back to Hanoi…
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