As the streets are still quiet and the sun is only just shedding its first rays of light over Hanoi we are woken up by the alarm of my phone. Sa Pa awaits and we are being picked up from the hotel at 06:30. The upside to getting up early is that the banquettes for breakfast are fresh and without the French taste even better than in France. We might look like some gap year adventurers with our backpacks but these are swiftly loaded into the back of a very comfortable van with air conditioning, leather reclining seats, WiFi and a snackbag for us and our fellow “adventurers.
We sit back and relax for the five our drive to the Topas Ecolodge resort in Sa Pa, while we leave the city behind our driver starts a welcoming DVD on which the British narrator explains that the driver is selected for his driving skills and not for his English. Should we have any questions the driver will call the hotel for answers or translating.
The first hours of the drive take us over the highway and we spend our time reading and with a little nap. After a coffee break we start heading into the mountains and the scenery changes and we see the first rice fields. After another short stop we drive up a winding road to cover another 500 meters of elevation before arriving at the Ecolodge. We are immediately welcomed by a large group of Red Dao ladies who are being held back by employees of the resort. These ladies can get rather excited when they see tourists and start asking questions and randomly introducing themselves. We get shown into the reception for the first of many cups of tea and refreshing hot towels.
From here it’s a 300 meter walk to the main reception and on that short walk we are confronted with unbelievable views over the resort and mountains covered in rice fields with clouds gently flowing between them. We take quick side tour to the infinity pool which had drawn my attention when booking our stay. The pool overlooks the previously described views and we stand there for a while and try to let it sink in. Less than two and halve days ago we shut down our computers at work and now we are in the most beautiful place either of us has ever seen.
We check in and decide to spend the day by the pool and finish the afternoon with a one hour massage. We walk to our cabin where our bags are waiting for us and guess what, the view from the balcony is yet again unbelievably gorgeous. We arrive at the pool when there are only two other guests so we have all the views for our own photoshoot, just to make everybody at home jealous:)
After a shower and the massage we head to the lounge bar for a drink, this has a winter sports like feeling with a crackling fireplace and gluhwein on the house. Although warm enough for us to wear shorts and flip flops and hang around the pool we see the locals passing by with hats and gloves and even a child in a ski outfit. With trout, tofu, spring rolls, wine and beer for dinner we look forward to the view we will wake up to and the new day that is ahead of us.