I wanted to leave SE Asia with a bang, so we decided to do a trek through the mountains of Sapa in northern Vietnam. I got to see the villages and culture of the Hmong people that I grew up with in my rural hometown in Minnesota. I went to school K-12 with the children of Vietnam war refugees. These large group of Hmong were the only sign of diversity in our town of predominately German and Polish decent. Growing up, I had no knowledge of their culture, history, values, landscape, or anything. There was no effort made in the school curriculum to fill in the gaps of knowledge and mutual understanding. Thinking back, it's incredible that these families were able to adapt to living in Minnesota because Sapa Vietnam and the culture couldn't be anymore opposite.
We arrived in Sapa in a sleeper bus. This was the first time being on one of these for me. The roads are narrow and windy for two of the 6 hour ride. There is a train option the is probably safer, but since there was no availability, we took the bus. I booked our trek and overnight homestay through Sapa O'Chau. They were extremely helpful and we loved our guide! The trek was an all day hike through the mountains, villages and rice fields. There was a stop for lunch and a snack. We arrived at the family's house for the one night homestay. They made a dinner for us on an open fire and we soaked in an herbal bath. Each homestay house is required to have a western toilet and shower (not heated water). However, on the trek you will make stops for lunch/snacks and the toilet may not be a western one.