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Jan 7, 2014

Trekking around (though not actually circling) Sa Pa

Still looking for my common sense and a bit concerned that it, like parts of my short-term memory may be... Oh, hell, where was I going with this?

Last night (Saturday, the 4th) I decided to update the software on the iPhone 3GS I bought to replace the one stolen in episode "On the road..." dated 12 December. In Sa Pa; on a strange, public-access computer; at 9 p.m.; and including unlocking the phone for which I'd received email authorization last week. Really? Will I ever learn?

It actually went quite well until the phone tried to reboot, then I got an error message saying the Apple servers were busy. At 0-dark-30 Cupertino time? Then the geeks need to get off the system, get some sleep, and let my phone have enough bandwidth to reboot. Sheesh! More than 12 hours later, I'm still getting the same error message, so I think it's the phone, not the geeks. I am now without a phone until I get back to my Hà Nội hotel room and switch the SIM card into my "US phone". Maybe a good thing...

Sa Pa day two trek was 12 km and it seemed like 12 miles. Wu, our guide, had already hiked into town from her village and our goal for the day. I'm betting she took the road, though, a mere 8 km. the trek was over some rough terrain and a few paved roads and paths. It's easy to see why the people if the villages off the bus/car roads don't get into town much.

It's hazy in Sa Pa like it was in Ha Long Bay...


Since it's winter, and they get only one growing season, 
it's pretty brown under the haze.

While trekking, keep an eye out for "buffalo chocolate" 
(ChapStick added for scale):

My trekking partners (can you see the baby's hand?):

Though I'm not a fan of "look, I was there" shots, I thought I'd add this one...
 and no, they're not high-water pants!
Do I really look that old in-person? Don't answer that! ;-)

This is one of the suspension bridges we crossed that swayed with each step...

Although we'd checked out of our rooms before leaving on the trek, the hotel has shower facilities for returning trekkers. A shower and an early dinner preceded the one-hour bus trip back to the train station.

In my four-berth train car there was a teenage Vietnamese boy whose family was in the next compartment, and an Argentinian/English couple from Australia. We adults got to talking and they mentioned that they were having difficulty getting good photos from the camera. After a couple questions, I suggest they read the camera manual. She responded that there was no manual; I said it was probably available on-line as most are these days. He said they would look for the manual.

They then asked to see my photos and wondered aloud why mine were so much better than theirs. He asked what kind of camera I had, and when I showed him that it is a very simple point-and-shoot, he was shocked. Then I got to explain my theory that is not the camera but the eye behind the camera that determines the quality of the photos. We segued from that into my "Basic Photography" instruction mode...

It was a nice conversation and they were thankful for the pointers. I now wished we had exchanged emails so that I could see if my lesson on Fill Flash helped them at all.

Fortunately I slept a bit better on this leg, so I needed a shorter nap when I got back to Hà Nội and the Queen Hotel at 5 a.m.


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