A day with Jo

Let us introduce you to Jo, Mhong woman from a small village called Hau Tao, we met in Sapa…


Jo is 27 yo and the mother of 3 sons. Everyday, she would come to Sapa to find tourists to guide in the mountain. That’s how she supports her family.


Mhong women are everywhere in the village, selling crafts and jewelry, carrying babies in their back, hailing at tourists in a surprisingly good English. They always have a response ready and are quite funny… So hard to say no to them!


“- Shopping later? – Yes, maybe… – Maybe for sure? Pinky promiss?”

So we give it a try, it’s been a while since our last hike in Hawaii, and Sapa valley is known for its beautiful landscapes and treks. We just have to follow Jo…

First Day


With her friends, Em and Mama Sousou, Jo will guide us to her village, Hau Tao, 6 hours away and will introduce us to her world…


We will walk through huge bamboo forests…


Climb up mountains, above the clouds, revealing magical sunlight…

and finally discover rice fields, everywhere, shaping the mountains, coloring the horizon with the bright green of young shoots, keeping people and buffalos busy.


Em will explain us how rice is grown and harvested. All of these rice fields around us will produce just enough rice for the people of Sapa and its surrounding villages…


Each family owns a little parcel of land and grows rice for its own consumption. In winter, they are glad to have some stocks of rice as snow covers everything and villagers cannot get to Sapa to buy supplies.

Walk goes on, Mama Sousou sets a fast pace with her pair of AdiBas… We go through green tea fields, bump into Mhong women carrying traditional backpacks, discover little discrete churches in the mountain…




Until we reach Jo’s place. Jo lives in a little house made of metal and wood with her 3 sons, her husband, his mother and his brother. There is one double bed in the house. The kitchen is actually a hole in the ground and there is a couple of little stools to sit. Clothes dry on the porch with mountains in the background. There is nothing in this house, it’s just a basic shelter for winter months, life is outside…


We leave Jo to get to our village, Ta Van, where we booked a homestay. We will share the owner meal, generous host, and try some homemade goat meat, duck and squash soup.

Second Day


Good morning Ta Van! Beautiful views when we wake up for ur second trek day.


Today, we will hike with Jo and her new friend, the teethless Ju who doesn’t speak English but smiles at us constantly.

We will go through small villages where inhabitants are awake for a long time already.


Rice fields are more beautiful than ever in the morning light. We can’t get enough of this landscape.

Then, the hike starts to be tough; we have to go up the mountain while sun beats down but it’s definitely worth it…


Seems like the mountains have been combed and we can see the teeth of the comb…


Thank you Jo for these 2 days, you have been an amazing guide!

We still can’t believe you walked those 25 kms with flip-flops but you are strong and courageous. We had a great time in your company and as promised, we will share our experience with fellow travelers, so as they can get the chance to meet you when they come to Sapa.



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