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after extending my vietnamese visa for a trip to see the hill tribes of the northwest, i was positive i would escape the never-ending annoyances of hanoi. to my dismay, my premonitions were proven incorrect within a few minutes of trekking between rice-terraced fields and water buffalo. the scenery was absolutely sublime, perhaps the most stunning natural setting these eyes have ever seen, but the annoyances were abundant.

upon departing my hotel for the overnight in a tribal village, i knew we would encounter many hmong (tribe name) women selling goods. i did not, however, expect a band of them to follow us the entire day and ask us if we "buy from me" or "maybe later" (a deadly, deadly commitment to make). the group i walked with had reserves of patience, but after our lunch break we were just plain tired of the hassle. we were at the base of soaring mountains that nearly touched the clouds. the intricate network of streams that ran through the rice paddies were a natural marvel, but, alas, the aggressive hanoi disposition was unfortunately exported up to the mountains.

if there were a defining last trip to make to vietnam, the northwest was it. offering stunning beauty, unbelievable motorbiking and great food, it surpassed every place i had previously visited. i couldn't have asked for a better setting to enjoy my last few nights in vietnam. the constant assault of moto-drivers, hill tribe women and food vendors dampened my spirits a bit, but more than anything, that was the vietnam i remember most from saigon, dalat, nha trang etc. everywhere i went the people were trying to take as much money from your wallet as they possibly could. disguised under the mask of communism, these self-made capitalists weren't thinking of tomorrow- no no no-they were thinking of today. after lengthy discussions with several foreigners it seems this attitude, which is all to prevalent, keeps many backpackers out of vietnam, or prevents them from a return visit. i haven't made up my mind yet, but if i return, it will be with a good set of earplugs and a shirt that just reads "NO, THANKS!!"

on a pictural note here are some pictures of the beautiful scenery near SAPA, Vietnam.

Posted by ggithens 00:26 Archived in Vietnam

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