Our 12 night train from Ha Noi to Sa Pa carried four travel wearied souls with our gear to within a mile of the Chinese border on Thursday after a brief reconnoiter at the Asia Star hotel, our perennial but clean and friendly 1 star accommodation in the old quarter of the city. Andrew Bunting, president of the International Magnolia Society, had flown from Philadelphia via Seoul, Ozzie Johnson had flown from Atlanta via Narita, Scott McMahan from Atlanta via Bangkok and I to Hanoi via San Francisco; miraculously, we had all arrived perfectly in sync.
Rather than burning a day nursing our collective needs to recover, we hurriedly repacked out gear at 7am, consumed a quick breakfast of steamed rice cake and set off to Seomity, a hill tribe settlement of mostly H’mong people. I was curious to check on the status of an old specimen of a rare deciduous conifer, Glyptostrobus pencilis, I had seen here in 2006 during my fourth trip to northern Vietnam. [Read more…]