It was on my last day in the Sapa region. I had a bus going back to Hanoi in the afternoon, so I did probably my most enjoyable tour during my entire visit to Sapa. A motorbike ride through Lao Chai and Tavan villages.

I hired a motorbike from the hotel. I think it was about 7$ for a day. Bargain. I took my GoPro and off I went. One thing I didn’t do was to check the fuel. Big mistake.

The villages of Lao Chai and Tavan are not far from Sapa, maybe 12km altogether, but the roads there are not paved. In many places it was just rocks and no sign of a road at all. The locals probably knew all the big rocks and hole in the road, so they were riding pretty fast. I was slow. I am not an experienced motorbike rider, so I took it easy.

However, after about 1 hour I got the hang of it and was able to make good time.

The villages are not far from Sapa, but they are far enough so that not many tourists go there. What I saw was just locals living their lives among the rice fields. Quite a different sight from Sapa, which is very tourist-oriented. I saw the rice fields. Most of them were already harvested, but one was late and it just looked great.

I also saw people handling rice after harvest. Extracting the grains, and drying them right next to the road. This looked like really hard work. I used to do that back in Poland about 40 years ago. Not rice, of course, but grains like wheat. We don’t do that anymore.

But I keep reminding myself that Vietnam now looks so much like Poland looked when I was little. Maybe that’s why I like this country so much. I felt at home.

The ride was about 3 hours. And that included a pit stop just before Sapa where I ran out of gas. Yes, I was that stupid. Luckily, the phone still worked and I was able to ask someone from the hotel to speak to one of the villages. Without hesitation, the lady in the store got on her bicycle and rode to eh village. About 10 minutes later she came back with a big bottle of gas.

The thing is, she only took 50.000 dong for it. I was more than happy to give her more, but she refused. In fact, when I gave her 100,000 d she insisted I take something from her shop for this amount of extra money. I remember people in Poland 30 years ago were also nice and helpful… Distant memory now, but still common in Vietnam.