Our German friends from Luang Prabang had told us wonderful stories of their homestay with Mama Sung in her village near Sapa, we just had to give her a call ? As soon as she answered the phone, I knew we were in for a treat, she had such a sweet and wispy voice and a real joker! We met her at the church, she was speaking with other villagers who belong to her tribe (Hmong tribe) and some were making and selling their handmade items, they all have bucket loads of talent. We introduced ourselves and she had the brightest smile and warmest heart (could tell by her hug ?) She reminded me of a grandma from a fairy-tale. Whilst we waited on another couple who would be joining us to do the homestay, we looked around Sapa square and park and around a Vietnamese Buddhist temple, I was surprised how unlike the temples we seen in Thailand and Laos it was. It almost had a Japanese look about it. We met the other couple, Jack from New Zealand and Stacey from Australia and set off on our trekking adventure through the mist mountains.
Whilst we walked, Mama Sung told of us village life, they keep some chickens and pigs and her kids all learn English in the local school. The kids all help out with chores, which we seen evidence of later on both through trekking and in Mama Sungs Village. Many animals (goats,cows,pigs,chickens) roamed the mountains, it was so lovely to see them free and reminded me of how my dad talks about Ireland back in the day! I’ve no idea how the villagers keep track of who owns what! Mama Sung showed us tea plants growing wild, which is what the famous Vietnamese green tea is made from and indigo plant which they use to dye their clothes to sell. She rubbed some onto mine and Stacey’s pams and mine didn’t come off till two days after despite tonnes of hand washing and swimming in the river! After a few hours trekking, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch and ate tasty fried rice and bia han oil beers (nice and cold). As we trekked more, the mountains came into view and they are just stunning, even in the mist. We passed families including kids as young as five cutting trees for firewood with machetes!
We came to Mama Sungs village and went to Mama Tees house, Mama Tee was our age and really fun ? Their sink was a cattle trough and the toilet was an outhouse with a hole in the ground lol! As Mama Sung and Mama Tee went shopping, we chilled and chatted to Jack and Stacey, it was crazy to hear of live in Darwin with all the snakes! We all ventured down to the shop for snacks, it was a bit dodgy getting to the shop as a lot of the path is broken but it was worth it to get the coconut buns they sold in the shop (more of a shed!). Dinner was made over the fire pit, it was so yummy, rice with beans and chicken, the yummiest spring rolls we’ve ever eaten, sticky rice and pumpkin. We were stuffed afterwards! Then came the shots of rice wine or happy water as the villagers call it (it was so strong, tasted like pernod), we drank copious amounts of happy water and discovered Mama Sung is even funnier drunk, we had a great time chatting and felt like we all knew each other forever ?
Jack and Stacey slept in Mama Tees but Phil and I went to Mama Sungs caboose, we climbed up into our loft and she tucked us into bed ? We had a great nights sleep and were woken in the morning to pigs sqealing, cocks crowing and Mama Tees dog dou barking (no doubt chasing the goats away, he’s very territorial!). I still felt tipsy, it was pitch black outside and I was in desperate need of a pee lol! Lucky for me Mama Sung was awake as she was heading in to meet tourists of the bus and tell them of the homestay (these women never rest), so she showed me and helped me down the steep hill to her outhouse. A true fairytale woman!