The Beautiful Land of No Privacy

Sapa, May 14th 2010

Inspite of short breath problem during the trekking, physically I was fine. At our final stop, where our car waited for us, we had a break in a local cafeteria. We headed back to Sapa Pathfinder Office at 2:55 PM and arrived at 3:15 PM. My transfer car to Lao Cai would pick me up at 6:00 PM. So I decided to make  use of the time. That Sapa Lake I passed by just now and the day before looked so tempting.

I thought that a glass of Vietnamese coffee by the side of Sapa Lake would be wonderful. There were many cafes around and I searched them all. However, walking the lanes in Sapa is not as enjoyable as it is in Hanoi West Lake's area or in Ho Chi Minh City area. In Sapa, tourists are over-welcomed. Everyone, almost, stood in front of their shop or cafe or restaurant, greeted me and asked me to stop by. I just needed three seconds to slow down my steps in front of a cafe to get someone approach me. If I tried to linger there another second just trying to decide whether the cafe would suit me or not, the waiter would chatter the whole menu into my ears. Even if I walk away, he would follow me several steps.

I landed myself on a cafe just by the side of the lake which I thought was quite, because it was rather apart from the lanes where the other cafes lined up. This cafe had a big yard filled with round tables and an umbrella on top of it. I read the menu from top. Yoghurt Coffee? Wow!

I did not regret spending 30.000 dongs on this. It was worth the taste. A beautiful scenery, a quite place, a glass of coffee, and myself -- that's perfect composition. Although I also enjoy to be in a group of people, I can also be perfectly content just to be with myself. And... when I'm being with myself I don't like to be disturbed.

After several sips, I took out my notebook and started to make notes of the day in order to make it easier when I'm going to write about my travel. And then I checked the pictures I took since the morning. I was just about to admire my own work when suddenly I realized that a local was standing beside me with her handcrafts in her hands.

"You buy one," she said.

"No, thank you."

"You buy from me. Buy one," she insisted.

The first time I saw these local tribes, I was excited. "Wow, exactly like the photos I had seen.", I said to myself. But after being followed insincerely (because they actually expected us to buy something from them) the whole day, even while we were having lunch, I got bored of them. On the other hand, I had already spent $20 on 2 local tribes for guiding me during third of the trekking journey and yet, if I had small changes, I wouldn't have given that much. So really felt that I had already paid them enough, although I realize that the woman standing beside me now is just another local tribe.

Now that one of them disturbs my precious moment with myself, I got sick of them. I stood up and left the cafe almost forgetting to pay my bill.

I went to the other side of the lake, sat on the green grass and let my bare feet dangle in the water. If only I had longer legs, I could have felt more of the Sapa Lake cool water on my skin. After a whole day of trekking, it was refreshing.

The whole park around Sapa Lake looked well taken care of. There were several gardeners taking care of the bed of roses. All of them wore dark blue. Maybe it's there uniform? Or is it always so in a communist community? I loved to see how they seemed to pay full attention to every single rose.

There weren't only roses, but other flowers.

It was a warm afternoon, indeed. The sky was blue. I saw some Westerners simply lying down on the green grass. Some Vietnamese high school student were dating on the stairs leading into the park. Across the lake an old man was fishing.

Just when I felt that I could stay there forever until night and morning comes, another local tribe approached me with her merchandise. "I said, 'no'!"

I turned my head and saw that she was an old lady probably the same age as Mom. I felt sorry for speaking so harshly to her. She also seemed startled to hear my response. She immediately walked away. When I was about to leave the lake, I saw her sitting alone by the stair. It was as if she didn't dare to go anywhere after I scolded her. I really, really, felt bad for that.

I returned to my hotel to take a bath. Since I had already checked out, my travel bag was kept under the stairs. To my surprise, the travel guide who brought us trekking was already at my hotel which is under the same company as his travel agency. He stood close to me while I took my stuffs out from my bag. I felt very uneasy to have a guy I've just only knew for half a day watching me and the content of my travel bag. I told him that I understood that the car transfer to Lao Cai will pick us up at 6:00 PM.

"You should be at the office 15 minutes before six," he said.

"Okay. I'll be there 15 minutes before six," I confirmed. But he did not move an inch. "I'll go to your office right after I'm done."

"Okay." He smiled. "I can bring your bag to the office."

"It's alright. These are light. I can carry them myself."

10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds... passed. He was still standing there.

"Can you leave me alone, please?"

"Excuse me?"

"Can you just leave me alone, please?" I tried to speak more slower.

"Excuse me? Can I what?"

"Go away, please!"

"Oh. Okay."

A minute later, the lady who used to be at the front desk stood in replace of this tour guide. She watched me snatched out my clean shirt, towel, toiletry bag, and my underwear...

No comments:

Post a Comment