Thac Bac Silver Waterfall

Sapa, May 13th 2010

I didn't expect the bikes were that high. I don't feel confident riding on a bike when my  feet can't touch the ground, especially when going uphill. I had ridden on a mountain bike when I was in Bali. Also during my first trip in Hanoi, I rent a bike. At that time I stopped by a travel agency and inquired about Sapa biking tour. When I asked what the bike was like, the lady at the reception desk said that it was like the bike I had standing in front of her office.

Mr. Hung urged me to just try. He said that if I find that I don't like it, I can get into the car because there will be a car following us. I did not want to take the risk challenging myself against my limits. So I asked whether I could just get into the car from the start. Mr. Hung and Mr. Hiep, my tour guide, had a conversation in the language I tried to learn but found difficult to.. Well, maybe it is just my head that's getting old to accept new stuffs.

Mr. Hung turned his head to me and said, "Okay, you can ride on a car."

"By the same price?" I asked.

"Yes, the same," said Mr. Hung. He told me that the car would arrive in 5 minutes. I took the opportunity to go back to the hotel to get my tripod. I had left it because I thought it would be too heavy to carry along with my camera backpack while riding on a bike.

In the end it turned out to be a good decision to take a car instead a bike and bring along my tripod. Look at this!

This is Thac Bac or Silver Waterfall. I wouldn't be able to capture it like this without a tripod. Even the bridge I stood on was shaky. I had to stand still after I turned my camera's timer on and pressed the shutter button.

That was the first stop and we continued on the steep winding roads. There was a time where we passed a very foggy area. We almost couldn't see what was in front of us. I could feel the wind sweeping our car. I admire Mr. Quan for his skillfulness driving us securely through such road.

I asked Mr. Hiep who said in front of me. "Is this the same route as the bicycle tour?"

"Yes, it is," answered Mr. Hiep.

"You mean, if I had taken a bike, we would have passed this same route?"

"Yes, exactly."


Again, I was glad not take the bicycle tour.

Mr. Quan never spoke to me, but it seemed that he understood when I talked. While Mr. Quan and Mr. Hiep chatted, I just enjoyed swinging left and right for I had the whole middle seat for myself. Suddenly Mr. Hiep turned his head to me.

"He said that this morning," while pointing at Mr. Quan, "there were a group of bicyclers who gave up when they passed this area and got into the car."

That foggy area wasn't quite long but the winding roads were. Mr. Hiep took me to some villages and lunch at Mr. Quan's brother's house. That was my first time to dine in a local's house. It was a long day and a nice tour. But I'll tell you the details later. I want to tell you about Thac Bac again.

During the end of our tour, Mr. Quan stopped by at Thac Bac again.

Across Thac Bac there is a rest are. There is a restaurant and some local goods. Behind the restaurant there is a small pool for breeding salmons. A shame thing to admit, that was the first time I saw salmon in real life.

These flowers seemed to grow just like that near the restaurant.

I went back across the street and climbed up the stairs, up, up, up... Mr. Hiep was so kind. He carried my camera backpack and tripod with him.

Although up, up, up... there I had to catch my breath, not to mention the waterfall itself, the view opposite the waterfall really paid off. "Mountain Shadow", that's what I call this.

Before we went back to the car, Mr. Hiep asked whether I would like to try some local snacks, like roasted chesnut, roasted sticky rice, etc... (I don't remember). I went for roasted sticky rice. The way it's prepared looked unique.

In Indonesia we also have something similar, but I have never known one that's put into a bamboo pipe like this. There might be similar stuffs in some part of Indonesia.

While waiting for the charcoal to heat up, the vendor served us with green tea. Hmmm.... you surely can't imagine what a sweet warm fragrance enters your breath.
After being roasted on charcoal, the vendor seperates the bamboo pipe into half. You get 4 pieces of roasted sticky rice inside it. 1 pipe of sticky rice like this cost 5.000 dongs.

Just like the aroma of banana leaf on "lontong" from Indonesia, there's a certain aroma of burned bamboo on this sticky rice which makes it taste special. They way to eat it is by taking a piece and dip it into mashed salted nuts. Whenever you come to Sapa, you must try this!!

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