by Hoang Ha
Curious travellers descend on Sa Pa for first glimpses of snow
Last Friday, The Truong and six of his friends who live in HCM City set off for Sa Pa Town, immediately after hearing that snow was about to fall.
They spent around VND20 million to first fly to Ha Noi.
"At 0:20am on Saturday, we got to Lao Cai and took a cab to Sa Pa at 2am. Snow started falling. We all screamed for a moment and then began to complain as our bodies felt numb with cold," Truong recalled.
Truong said he had urged his friends to bring a sweater, scarf, woolen cap and gloves, but four of them, who had never experienced such temperatures in their lifetime, forgot to do so.
After arriving, the group first went to Thac Bac Falls but as soon as they reached the area, many of them wanted to turn around. By that time, the temperature had dropped to -50C.
After spending two days in Sa Pa to admire the rare sight of snowfall, Truong's friends said they would return, but only in the summer.
Many Thai visitors also travelled to Sa Pa to see the snow. In addition, a company based in Ha Noi hired a bus to take about 30 employees and family members to Sa Pa.
"As this was the first time we had 'hunted' snow, all of us stayed awake until 1:30am to see the snow start to fall," Minh, a company official, said. "It was a very special trip."
Also eager to see the snow, a group of eight students at the Forestry University in Ha Noi rode their motorbikes to Mau Son in the northeast of Lang Son last Saturday. The temperature was -40C.
Duc Giang, a member of the group, said they had met some young people riding their motorbikes from HCM City, and others from Bac Ninh who were camping at an abandoned hotel on the top of Mau Son.
Some of them returned home, shivering cold, Giang said. "The scene of snow covering Mau Son was impressive. We had travelled to the northwest several times, but we had never seen so much snow."
Unfortunately, some children living in Sa Pa could be seen walking barefoot and wearing thin clothing, he said. "We will return soon to give them sweaters and shoes."
Bus, railway stations decked out in Tet colours ahead of holiday
Mien Dong bus station and Sai Gon Railway station in HCM City this year are covered with red, the traditional colour of Tet (Lunar New Year). In contrast to previous years, the station atmosphere is more serene and orderly and passengers can sit and surf the web.
Sitting in a corner of the bus station, Le Van Thang, a junior at Technology University in HCM City, said this was the first time he was travelling to Dak Nong by bus to enjoy Tet with his parents.
Nguyen Le Vi Y, her husband and daughter were also returning to their hometown for Tet. Y, who took photos and posted them on Facebook while she waited, said she was usually afraid of the crowds at the station.
"This year is different," Y said. She was helped by a porter who carried her luggage when she entered the station and her family also received boxes of gifts nicely decorated with handwriting. One gift box included a travel pillow, wet towel and bottle of water.
Ngo Thi Hai, a cleaner, was also going back home to Long An for Tet. Before getting on the bus, Hai took a photo at a corner decorated by Unilever's Omo brand, which was responsible for the gifts as well.
"If the trip continues to be comfortable like this, I'll return home for Tet every year," Hai said.
Unilever also covered many cushions at the bus and railway station with decorative fabric. It plans to hand out a total of 80,000 "get-together" gift boxes for bus and railway passengers travelling to their hometown for Tet until February 6. — VNS