Friday, November 21, 2008

"Please buy for me?"

Tram Ton Pass rises to almost 2000m above sea level and it's a wonderful drive up through the clouds and over to Sapa. The weather was still wet and foggy, so our visit to the Silver waterfall was eerily quiet and the water seemed to fall out of the sky.Sapa is an old French hill station, though signs of the french architecture have all but been erased by the local vietnamese. Now it is a huge tourist attraction with hotels and cafes everywhere and colourful women from Dao, Hmong and Yao tribes hawking their wares. You can also trek to nearby villages where more retail therapy can be endulged in.

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The ladies are alot of fun. They look you in the eye and ask "Please buy for me?" with an impish smile and if you smile back they attack. In droves! So soon you are surrounded by five or six women all wanting you to buy their exquisite jewellery, embroidered bags, cushion covers, rugs and other paraphernalia. And they are so jolly about it. They laugh and enjoy the bargaining process, but they're all shrewd and good at their jobs so they won't back down on their final price, though they may pursue you back to your hotel still bargaining!! It helps to have a couple of beers at an outside cafe and just have the ladies surround you and start bargaining hard. The prices are actually ridiculously low so before long you've spent twenty dollars and have all your christmas and birthday presents for everyone for the next two years!! Ha, like any of you are getting any of this stuff!

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Our time in Sapa was fairly short, as we spent three days climbing Fansipan, the tallest peak in Vietnam. And it was raining, cold and muddy. That's the next story.

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