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Kasia wrote on 26 March 2012 :

 

Our homestay choice was 'Xi Quan's Red Dao Homestay' run by a Red Dao lady and her French husband Olivier. After successfully navigating our way to Ta Phin village thanks to a hand drawn map from another volunteer who had already been to Ta Phin we made contact with Olivier to arrange our rendezvous (how French!) and had a cup of coffee in the secret garden place with fish pool, cocky cat and snakes in jars. A strange combination for a cafe but it worked for us, I think it was just having a seat to be honest. After the smallest cup of coffee I've ever had, no it wasn't an espresso, we dodged more sellers and waited for our host to come and meet us.

Olivier arrived and the Mother-in-Law La May popped up too (I don't think that's spelt right!) and we began our walk back to their home. It took us about 40 minutes to get there, the scenery on the way was stunning and the camera came out many, many times. The last bit of the climb was pretty steep and I was a tad embarrassed that Mother-in-Law had to help me up a couple of the steeper bits to avoid a comedy Kash sliding down the hillside type incident. Still I made it, there was even a scary one log bridge to negotiate, again with some balancing assistance.

The views, the amazing hospitality, the cute kids, the best meal either of us had eaten in a long while and even a comedy incident with a giant spider and some serious wielding of a bashing device by Xi Quan (the wife) will all be remembered with a massive smile on my face. Easily the best thing I have done on this trip so far.

OpenMind,EmptyStomach wrote on 4 July 2011 :

 

Glenn’s friend Olivier and his family hosted me. Olivier’s story is reminiscent of the Last Samurai. While he didn’t kill her husband in battle, he did marry a widower with children and has gone totally native. Originally from France, Olivier came to Sapa 6 years ago on vacation and never left. He speaks English, French, Hmong, Zhao, and a little Vietnamese. In addition to hosting homestays, he is also a trekking guide. Olivier and his wife were perfect hosts. Their home is a 2 hour (1 if you go at Parasco pace) hike up the mountain from Ta Phin. The top of the mountain is a relatively short, steep, very scenic hike from the house and definitely worth the effort. The family has 2 big pigs, 4 piglets, 2 chickens, and a garden. The dinner I had at Olivier’s house was, by far, the best food I had in Sapa. They prepared banana flowers with peanut and lemon, fried green chilies, pumpkin with soy sauce and sugar, french fries, and rice. The banana flower and chilies were really, really good. Everything was made from scratch using fresh, local ingredients (and a light sprinkling of MSG). I got to sample 3 different rice wines that were made by the family. They were strong and tasty. The strongest and darkest wine came from a bottle full of bees! Many homestays allow you to stay with an authentic Hmong/Zhao family, what I had at Oliver’s was that and more. If you go to Sapa, e-mail Olivier at tsen-ang@hotmail.com and experience it for yourself.

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