In March 2009 we spent one day in Hanoi arranging a trip to Halong Bay and Sapa. We took the nite train to Sapa and stayed there for a few days. Sapa was a photographic gold mine. We loved it. Since it was our last stop before Hanoi I loaded up on souvenirs. Being willing to buy the local crafts earned us an honored position in the town for a few days. We were popular guys. The women hawkers can be very obnoxious and pushy. There were two, that were sales ladies to be sure , but were polite and pleasant and spoke enough English that they made good guides to the area. They escorted us to CatCat village one day and helped us negotiate a reasonable rate on the motorbike trip back up the hill. The next day they asked if we wanted to go to their village for lunch. We, of course said, "Yes" knowing that the "price" was going to buy some souvenirs.
Getting to know these folks, eating in their house, tramping thru their village, and taking photos was the top hilite of many on the trip.