On the first morning you are picked up from your hotel in Hanoi and taken on a short trip to a bus depot to catch a sleeper bus. Pack a small suitcase for the over night stay and take a small rucksack for the journey - no eating on the bus (there are two pit stops). Really comfy journey and I’m 6’1.
You get to a hotel and have a nice set menu lunch. There was too much food and we couldn’t eat it all.
Then the trekking starts. We left our case at the first hotel and off we went.
Day 1 is down to Cat Cat village, it’s an instagramers dream! It feels a bit like hobbit land, clearly built for tourists with lots of selfie opportunities. I was slightly disappointed with this at first as it didn’t feel like trekking, however on Day 2, I realised that Day 1 was just a warm up session haha.
Our 5* hotel that night - Poas, was just amazing, sadly because of the ‘corona virus’ scare, it felt like we were the only ones there as many people have cancelled their bookings.
The service and welcome we received from start to finish was absolute first class. Sadly being in the mountains in Feb the clouds rolled in and we woke up to a view of thick cloud, you have to expect that.
The next morning we were given a choice of the easy route or the narrower route with more stunning scenery. Of course we opted for the narrow route, trekking through the rice paddies. Wear sensible shoes! I had decent grips on mine and it was a struggle. It may be easier later in the year, but it was muddy and slippery. Seriously good fun and a great workout for the leg muscles.
Luckily, you are followed around by a few ladies from the village, they are saviours! They will try to sell you their scarfs etc at the end which I had no issue with after the help they provided. I bought a head scarf and a couple of trinkets - very cheap. I did also tip all three of them as without their assistance it would have been less fun. I also didn’t haggle, £6 for a scarf is a lot of money to them.
There was one point, one of the ladies noticed a certain rare plant growing on a steep side. It was funny to see how excited they all got trying to clamber up to it to pick it. It was a really sour stem, our guide stripped it and let us try some.
Which links us lastly onto LaLa! Almost perfectly fluent in English, she actually lives in the last village and seemed to get real genuine joy in answering all of your questions, about village life, their culture and traditions. Family rice paddies are handed down to boys, they collect wood for 4 years in advance to build their house etc.
All in all we were aching by the end of it but really loved the experience. I was sad to head back to Hanoi.