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Spooky Time in Sapa


“This is an ideal setting for a Stephen King novel,” commented one girl. “I’m sure Alfred Hitchcock could have used this place for one of his movies,” said another. I was thinking along exactly the same lines. As the minibus drew into the tiny, mist-covered town of Sapa, I was struck by the eerie nature of the place. 

Getting off the bus after the 10-hour journey, I could feel the shivers going down my spine, due to the combination of the chill mountain air and the sheer spookiness of the town.

The journey had taken me and my intrepid group of travellers, from the complete motorbike mayhem of Hanoi, through the magnificent northern Vietnamese mountains and finally to the former French hill station of Sapa, located in the north west of Vietnam, close to the Chinese border. On arrival, there was only time to get a quick bite to eat at the nearest café and then retire for the evening. It was only 9.00 but I really didn’t fancy the idea of wandering around the streets of this mist engulfed place at night.

The following day the mist was still as thick as my recently purchased fleece, as I embarked on a walk of the surrounding area, taking in a number of wonderful Vietnamese waterfalls and meeting members of the numerous village tribes who live in the area. It was tremendous to see the young girls dressed in their traditional multicoloured costumes, rather than the jeans, hipsters and stomach showing tops that the majority of girls seem to wear nowadays.

On returning back to the main town, I was able to experience the traditional Sapa market, which comes to town every Saturday. Everything from fruit to furniture, clothes to carrots were on show, as well as both the men and woman wearing their tribal outfits.

I even took the opportunity to get my hair cut as it was becoming rather out of control.  I sat down with one of the many on-the-street barbers. I was rather nervous throughout the whole experience, particularly as a shop window was being used as the main mirror, but he managed to do an adequate job and I survived with no cuts and a not too disastrous haircut.

The evening brought back that chill, eerie feeling that I had felt on arrival. On walking back to my hotel down the unlit main street, I noticed two figures out of the corner of my eye. There was a small movement and I hurried my step. I then heard a sharp scream and then a groan. Could a murder actually be taking place in this most mysterious of places? Could I be an unwitting witness to a heinous crime?

The next sound I heard was that of a female giggle and the penny dropped. It had not been a murder taking place. By far the opposite. Just two young lovers stealing some time together.

Mystery and romance. Christie & Cartland. Sapa really is a town for every type of author.

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