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Thursday, October 23, 2014

My First Sense of Snow at Sapa, Vietnam


I know its 'winter' in the northern part of Vietnam at the time I arrived there middle of December last year. I remember sleeping at the airport upon arrival with two layers of jacket until I was woken up by a freezing burst of wind I thought was emanating from the air-conditioning system. I looked around and saw the source of the cold - the automatic door that remained open. When I arrived at the old french quarters of Hanoi that morning I welcomed the 12 degree Celsius cold with delight, it was my first time to experience that kind of cold - in a city setting outside of my trips to Sagada and Mount Pulag - which are both in the highlands, before. 

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If it was that cold in the city of Hanoi, the weather turns two folds frostier at Halong Bay because of the strong wind that brushes against your almost frozen face with wild abandon. Our tour guide showed me a photo taken at Sapa the previous day of snowcapped mountains. "You're going at Sapa right? look here that's snow, after many years it snowed again - perfect time for you to be going there" he told me.

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I was giddy with anticipation that next day as early as the overnight train ride to Sapa, I was hoping the snow hasn't melted yet. After a 7 hour technical delay I made it to the mountain town of Sapa at around 4pm while the sun was shining bright over clear skies. I was worried "that's it the snow has melted, i missed it by a day".  I muttered to myself in Tagalog. 

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After our van made dozens of turns up the zigzag road I was greeted by an unfamiliar sight - of snow-capped mountains from a distant. I was humming RHCP's "Snow (hey oh)" even if its a song that has nothing to do about about winter ice. 

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The scenic town of Sapa provides a stunning foreground to the white capped peaks which stretches far and unto China. I've felt the cold tripled and the wind felt more boisterous but with my two layer My Philippines jacket, the only part of my body that bothered me were my legs because I'm wearing shorts. 

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We were supposed to start our hike to a local village deep in the hinterlands early in the morning. But since our train encountered technical difficulties, we commenced our trek at around 5 pm, when the sun was just about to set and the cold getting more intense. 

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As we slog over the roadside of the town, a majestic sight edged my peripheral vision and from afar I saw the rays of sunlight about to disappear and the reddening sky slowly robbing the illuminating brightness of the snow capped mountains into invisibility. By nightfall our hike continues, but I felt the cold getting colder than ever. It will drop to 2 degrees Celsius before the night is over.
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Sapa is 7 hours by train from Hanoi. Cebu Pacific Air is the only airline that flies directly from Manila to Hanoi. Check out their website, Like their Facebook Page and Follow their Twitter to subscribe to more information. 

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