Photograph by Eric Scott

  • where:

    Sapa, Vietnam

  • what:

    Hiking, Nature, Beauty

  • why:

    Relaxation and Solitude

  • when:

    Year Round

  • website:

    www.topasecolodge.com

  • warnings:

    poisoness plants

  • Geotag Icon Show on map

In the north west of Vietnam, near the Chinese border, high in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range you will find the town of Sapa. To get there we took the overnight train from Hanoi. The ride was rough and noisy, but we were fairly comfortable in our private sleeping car. Near dawn we awoke and gazed out the window at the villages along the train tracks leading into Lao Cai. For a brief moment we caught a glimpse of a child that couldn’t have been more than three climbing down a ten food garden wall naked and seemingly unsupervised. I couldn’t help but think how hearty such an upbringing would make a person.

We had booked accommodation at the Topas Ecolodge, which was located about twenty miles from the main town of Sapa. A driver from the resort met us at the Lao Cai train station and we began the hour and a half drive into the mountains. We immediately encountered the terrace farming the region is famous for. It was amazing to see whole mountains molded into geometric abstractions of their former selves. Completely different from the modern approach to modifying nature, the terraced farms don’t discard nature’s inherent traits, but compliment and respect them while creating structure and forms as impressive as any modern architecture.

Photography by Eric Scott and Marcy MilksWe were overwhelmed when we arrived at the resort. Twenty-five bungalows surround a hilltop that overlooks a river hundreds of feet down immediately accompanied by massive peaks jutting into the sky. The bungalows are simple, but clean and comfortable, made of white granite and golden hardwood, and feel very natural in this amazing setting without detracting from the landscape.

Our time in Sapa was fairly uneventful, but not boring. We spent most days sitting on our balcony drinking wine staring in awe at the scenery. There are no tv’s, pools, mini bars and electricity was limited to a few hours a night, but we did not miss these usual resort amenities at all. We did take a walk to the near by rice patties and through some local villages inhabited by the Black H’mong and the Red Dao which are both minority groups from China thought to have first inhabited the area in the 18th century.

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Red Dao, Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Red Dao, Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range, Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range, Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Sapa, Vietnam