Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Hanoi – Sapa – Fansipan (3.143m)

After I was finally allowed to go through customs at Hanoi Airport, Annette & myself got to our hotel and went straight to the Karaoke bar around the corner, where we met Jan and John, Trang & Tuan, Xoan and a few colleagues of her.

It was an indescribable feeling to see Jan & John again after one year!!!! It felt like we had never left Vietnam after our IBM CSC experience :)

I was so relieved to be back in Vietnam and had such a great evening. It was so good to be back with friends and our translators and memories came back when we were singing Karaoke – just like one year ago on the Boat in Halong Bay!!! What a night :)

Even Nicole joined us later for a few hours, which was great!

Friday morning we had a late breakfast and then started to go on our sightseeing tour through Hanoi. It felt good to be back in Hanoi as a tourist for one day. But I am so glad I don’t need to live there ;)

We had a lovely lunch with Xoan, her colleagues & director from Vietlines directly at the Hoan Kiem Lake!

Then some more sightseeing, a bit of shopping, coffee with Nicole with a magnificent view over the Hoan Kiem Lake and some dinner in Highway 4 before we boarded the train to Sapa!

Now the adventure really started :)

We had a great trip up to Sapa on a very comfortable train!

Our tour guide “The” picked us up at the train station in Lao Cai, which is just 2 km from the Chinese boarder and we drove for one hour up to Sapa. The weather was ok, not to cold not to warm. As we had to wait for our rooms’ Active travel had arranged a lovely breakfast for us with a gorgeous view down the valleys! What a start to our great Fansipan Hike!

The next highlight was the Bamboo Hotel in Sapa! The rooms were very comfortable and cosy and our balcony faced the Sapa valleys! Can it get better?!

As we had the day free before our hike, we just strolled a bit through town, bought some small souvenirs, some trekking jackets or trousers etc. We had a great lunch on one of the small street stalls :) It felt so good to be back!

In the afternoon and evening it rained, but as we just bought some raincoats for the hike it wasn’t so bad. We all were looking forward to our hike tomorrow. Nobody really had known what to expect ;) And that was maybe better…hehe!

We got up, had some nice breakfast buffet and got ready for the first day of our hike. It was a little bit misty and it rained a bit. The small bus drove us up to 1900 meters where our hike started. Me met our four porters, who carried our sleeping bags and all our food. The only thing, which we were carrying, was our clothes and personal belongings for two days.

Before our hike started The, our tour guide, gave us some Bamboo sticks. I wouldn’t have survived without my two Bamboo sticks I can tell you. They were brilliant!!!

So the plan for the first hiking day was to hike up to 2300meters to have lunch and then continue to 2800meters, where we would sleep in a tent or a small hut.

We had a great time, ate a lovely lunch and started to hike up to 2800meters. It started to rain and to get cooler. We reached our overnight camp pretty early, around 3pm and we had to make a decision to hike up to the top the same day or to have a break and do the hike in the morning.

I am so glad we all decided to have a break and to hike the next day. The rain and wind got heavier and stronger and it was freezing cold. We were all having a nap in our sleeping bags before dinner to get warm when our tour guide came and brought us some “life saving” Garlic French Fries ;) it definitely helped a bit to get warm.

Our four porters cooked us dinner and it was like a 5 course dinner!!!! They were just fantastic. We had everything you can wish for 2800 meters up on Fansipan!

Beef, chicken, pork, fish, rice, French fries, vegetables, spring rolls, fruits!

Now one of the hardest bits was still to come – to survive the night in that cold camp! It was freezing….brrrhhh! I never felt so cold since I left Ireland ;) But before we went to bed, we actually were allowed to join the porters in there camp and they made a fire out of bamboo sticks J It helped to get a bit warm at least and they were so kind to us.

Anyway, we survived the night somehow and had another tasty breakfast! Crepes with bananas or sugar J I love Crepes, so my day started brilliantly!

At 7am we were ready for our hike up to 3.143meters. If you believe it or not but the sun came out when we started to hike up! And you could see 4 smiley faces!!! But the biggest smile was on Jan’s face, as he loves sun!!!

On the way up you could hear John and Annette swearing, “We hate mud…!”

I have to say the hike was tough! I am not sure if we all expected it to be so tough as it was. We climbed up small streams, rocks which were so muddy, ladders in between but all through an amazing rainforest with bamboo everywhere! Unforgettable experience!!!

It took us a bit longer then 2hours to reach the top of Fanispan at around 9am :) Breathtaking view and lovely sunshine! Can life get better?????

No, it can’t! We were so lucky! But this still comes from our “Yen Tu” hike from 2009 during our CSC time, I am sure :)

Of course we missed our two fellow hiking members Juliana and Subbu!

Up on the top of Fansipan we took some amazing pictures and I actually could have stayed there for hours, as the view was so breathtaking :)

We had some Mars and water, which kept us going for our hike down to 1900meters.

How difficult is it to hike down 1200meters in one day? I can tell you, bloody difficult at least for my knees ;)

I definitely prefer to hike up the mountain instead of going down!!!! Ask Jan, as he had the pleasure to walk behind me ;) The last two hours I didn’t say a word anymore, I just kept thinking of taking one step after the next and to keep my knees going!

What an amazing hike and adventure it was! I wouldn’t want to miss it!!!


  1. Hi Kerstin,
    I just had a lovely time reading all about your trip with Jan, John and Annette. Thanks a million for writing it all down in such detail - some of it really brings back some memories of our the trip in 2005. And the pictures - amazing!!!!
    Looking foward to chatting with you on skype again some time soon!!
    Hope your rash is better!!!!
    Big Hug,

  2. hi Kerstin,
    I am sure all of you had a memorable and experienced trip.you look so great with helmets. you might be back to your work now, Hope you well and work well also
    Big hugs, >:d< >:d< >:d<

  3. Hi Nina,

    That is so good to know that people enjoy reading the blog ;) It took me quiet a while to write it - but lovely memories and worse while writing them down for sure! And I also have to think back sometimes to our trip in 2005!
    Skype it is very soon :) Yes, and my rash is much better. I am back to work since Monday! And I still love teaching ;)
    Big Hug

    Hi Trang,

    Thanks for your kind words ;) Yes, we had a hell of an experience once again!!! Just brilliant!!!!
    Great to see you for Karaoke! Hope you are doing well.
    Big hug