This is our Sapa guide Chi and her son Jahn. She is five feet tall and made of muscle. She  eats bamboo and dandelion greens from the side of the road, gave birth in her thatched-roof home, and has never heard of mail. She is a proud guide when there’s tourists and a happy rice farmer when there’s not. She never went to a day of school in her life.

In two days, Chi taught me more about Vietnamese culture and life in general than I learned on the rest of the trip combined, and I developed a deep affinity for her unassuming nature and no-nonsense style. Ten thousand miles from home she made me feel welcome and safe, and her easy manner made me smile for hours of hard trekking.

This is Chi, the only woman who ever has, and who ever will, get me to ride on a motorbike.

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