Sinh who I later came to know as Mr. Sun met us promptly on the morning of day 1 of our trek. The prospect of spending 3 days with a random dude from the internet can be scary, but his huge smile and affable nature put us right at ease. We mostly made small talk as we made our way out of the town, but it soon became clear that Mr. Sun was the real deal, a true local guide. Over the next 3 days we had the pleasure of trekking with him through his homeland. I appreciate a lot about the time we spent together. A few things in particular stand out. We trekked some pretty obscure off-the-beaten paths that you wouldn’t find with a transplant guide. Many times that we’d cross paths with some locals Mr. Sun would pause and shoot the breeze. It was inevitably a friend of his from high school or brother of an in-law. One time it was someone he didn’t know, but knew him, which confirmed my theory that he’s a bit of a local celebrity. I’m really curious and asked a lot of questions, “what’s this?” and “why that?”. He almost always had a good answer and when he didn’t he looked it up and reported back later, e.g. “it’s cassava!”. The homestay that we stayed at on our first night was great. We had a private room. It was very clean. The food was tasty. We had a ton of fun at dinner chatting with the family and the other guests late into the evening over homemade apple wine. On day 2 we made a pit stop at Mr. Sun’s family home. It was an honor to get a peak into where he grew up and still lives today. By the end of day 2 we were exhausted from trekking! We had another nice evening in a different homestay again having fun chatting with the other guests, guides, and the family that lived there, this time over rice wine 🙂 The morning of the third day we had a tasty breakfast of crepes and locally-grown bananas before completing another half day of trekking. Finally Sinh had arranged for us to go by car back to Sapa city. Overall the experience was amazing. We learned so much about the people and culture of the region. It was a lot of hiking, which is exactly what we were looking for. I wholeheartedly recommend Sinh and his company Trekking Tour Sapa.