The next day after our Mt. Fansipan hike with Sapa O’Chau, we met up with our guide to take us to a few spots in Sapa. Her name was Co, and she was an honest twenty-something lady from the Hmong tribe.
Our first destination was Cat Cat Village, which was about a twenty-minute walk from Notre Dame Cathedral. As soon as we entered the village – there was an entrance fee, by the way – it already felt like a tourist trap. There were stalls everywhere.
“They’re fake,” our guide whispered while looking at the silverware seller to make sure she wasn’t heard.
We continued walking.
“That’s not a true Hmong house,” Co warned us again when we pointed to a house that resembled a mini model we saw at the Sapa Museum.
More stalls appeared as we continued walking, but even though our enthusiasm had shrunk at that point, we were determined to take as much as we can from the place. After all, if it was indeed built for tourists, Cat Cat Village was built to showcase the culture of Sapa.
There were a few spots that we liked, but our favorite was the bamboo water wheel.
We were also treated to a Hmong courtship dance, and a demonstration of how ethnic fabrics are made and decorated (batik).
We, then, took a dirt road headed to a school about 2 kilometers from the village.
The scenery on the way was mostly rice paddies, which felt familiar because it was similar to the Philippine countryside. Even the school looked the same.
We turned back and took another route that led to the majestic terraced rice fields. It was a breathtaking view, and Co said it could’ve been more beautiful had we taken the trip a month earlier for the harvest season. It was October when we visited Sa Pa.
To end the trek, Co invited us to her home, which was smack in the middle of the fields. On our way there, we passed by a marketplace where Co showed me a musical instrument made of bamboo.
At her house, Co offered some beer, which we gladly took. She even asked her husband to help us dress up in Hmong clothes.