Day 12 .. back to Hanoi
Day 11 vanished .. I had picked up a tummy bug of some description – the less said there the better! Except to say that Tony did a great job researching assorted remedies and then went and found some Imodium!The mini-bus from Sapa to Lao Cai picked us up at the hotel at 4.30 and we were given a very royal send off by the super friendly and smiley staff at the Sapa Eden. 15 westerners in a ford transit minibus on a one hour ride in almost a total white-out … not necessarily something I need to do again.
Grey-packer in Lao Cai
Tummy feeling better so I bravely had a watermelon juice and half a baguette at the station (Tony had a beer and a huge plate of spring rolls) before finding our way to carriage 12, bunks 17 & 18. The train left right on time and thankfully this time it appeared we did not have the clunky under-carriage. We swayed gently and both slept a good bit of the 10 hours back to Hanoi, where Tien met us and took us back to their office for a shower and breakfast – what great service!Their 5yr old son Minh was home from school with a cough but soon perked up when he realised there were a couple of crazy foreigners he could play with… and even better… one of them had a tablet with Star Wars Angry Birds on it!
Back to the hotel about 9:30am (and a short wait to check-in), the next pile of laundry sorted and out to visit the Museum of Ethnology. Fantastic! Inside exhibition space full of all manner of wonderful fabrics, household objects etc and a huge outside area with reconstructed homes from various ethnic groups from all over Vietnam.
This Bahner communal house is over 20m tall
And you only have to look at the 'stair carvings' to know this building is from a matrilineal group! Women obviously rock in this part of Vietnam!
These are fertility symbols which decorate a 'funeral house' ... I wonder how many times over the years the museum staff have had to replace this blokes willy!
There was also a small bookshop (you all know I can sniff out books on fabric at 100 paces) and a restaurant, staffed by disadvantaged kids doing hospitality training. Excellent food and very good service.
Back to the hotel .. and out with the guide book to decide where we should go for dinner - Tony wants hot pot. And since our hotel has not given us any glasses - I'm having a shandy in a coffee cup! First time for everything.