It was raining hard on my first two days in Sapa, Vietnam and there’s nothing much that can be done outside. The roads are slippery and hiking on your own is not advisable. I recall how amazed I was on my second night when the town seemed to be completely covered with fog. I came from a city where smog exists instead of fog and seeing a fog covered town made me imagine I was walking on clouds. I could only see things clearly if they were within approximately 30 meters from where I was standing and everything else is quite a blur.
Luckily around noon time of my third day, the fog cleared up and a little sunshine pierced thru the thick clouds.
We took the opportunity to walk around and go to the nearby Cat Cat Village.
Catcat Village is around 1 KM away from the town of Sapa and it is navigable by foot. You could walk from Sapa to the village or you could rent a motorbike so you could go further after your visit to Cat Cat. You could also pay a motorbike taxi driver to take you to the village instead if you don’t want to walk nor drive a motorbike.
An entrance fee of 30,000 Dong needs to be paid at the entry gate of Cat Cat. And you have to walk for a few minutes more before you reach the road that leads you downwards to the village.
The village has a lot of shops, one shop after the other lined up the narrow streets of Cat Cat. It may or may not be a good sight for travellers that are really looking forward in seeing the village life of the HMongs. But the people in this village seemed to have already adapted to the tourism industry. So what you see is actually the village life in Cat Cat.
People are still tending to their farms, kids playing on the streets, women making exquisite and beautiful woven clothes, bags and other accessories.
As you descend more you’ll see the most scenic part of the village, the Tien Sa waterfalls which I found really beautiful. The raging water drops to the huge boulders and flows to what seems to be a small patch of “dense jungle”.
I liked the experience except for one thing… staring at the Hmong and taking pictures of them made me feel awkward. It felt like a human zoo for lack of better words. And I felt sad for them, although I have to say that not all tourists that I saw in Sapa treated them as a “the tourists attraction”. A few tourists engaged themselves with conversations with the Hmong to learn more about their culture and to share their respective cultures as well. I also saw a few local and foreign tourists who even stopped some Hmongs from their tracks just to take a close up pictures of them.
Some tourists skip Cat Cat and go instead to other villages in search of a “more unique” experience. In other villages, local people are offering home stays to foreigners who want to peek at the lives of the Hmong.