Are we All the Same? Exploring Sapa

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I opened my eyes and there were mountains in front of me. Looked too picturesque not to be Sapa. I got out of the bus. It was very cold and I was tired. I got into a taxi. Taxi driver said I was pretty. The mirror screamed something else poking at my huge under eye bags after 8 hours bus journey. I smiled. Thought the driver was rather good looking, but was too tired to flirt.

I found myself sitting and indulging into the mind-blowing view. Beautiful morning sun decided to make its presence. I smiled like a fool. Felt like a polar bear after lethargic sleep. The sun was making love with my face. I was desperate for it.

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I went for a walk. Every few minutes I got approached by local ladies trying to sell all kinds of goodness. I said no.

Made friends with a local girl. She had too many responsibilities and too many babies. We sat together watching the world go by. I told her she was beautiful and watched her breastfeed. Her little boy looked happy, so did his mother.

We agreed to meet next morning. I needed a guide. I knew nothing about mountains and my new friend looked like she could use some cash.

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9 am sharp I was greeted at the lobby. I was introduced to my friend’s sister Trinh and her baby. We started walking. I was overwhelmed by the view. So different to what my eyes are used to seeing.

Trinh’s footwear did not look promising, but she looked like she knew what she was doing. She walked fast and effortlessly. Looked like she could rock those rice fields, mud, rocks, bridges and rivers with her eyes closed. I did my best to keep up with Trinh and she said I was strong. How kind of her.

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Once we finished with small talk I could ask about things that mattered. Trinh told me about her baby no3, who was not planned, her parents and a sister in law, who said ‘goodbye’ to her brother. Trinh explained to me that sometimes you cannot control your feelings and need to say ‘goodbye’.

Trinh told me I was very lucky, because it was raining and snowing for days, but it stopped when I got there. I tried to explain I was following weather forecast. Trinh kept saying I was very lucky and I should get myself a husband, a good man. She also said that sometimes things do not work the way you want and you end up with a broken heart, but it is OK.

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I wanted to have some gossip time and find out how Trinh, her neighbours and family see us, the travelers, those who come and try to get into their business. I could not get anything mean. I tried repeating the question, still nothing.

We passed villages where everything seemed so unfamiliar, especially, the smiles. They looked more genuine. Firstly, slightly shy and questioning, but once you start smiling with your liver, as Julia Roberts was taught in Eat Pray Love, everyone can feel it.

Can you think about love if you are thirsty, hungry or cold?

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