[Wanderlust Tips March 2018] The four travellers will share about the exciting community-based travel experiences and unforgettable voluntary journeys.
NGUYEN DAC HOA, TOUR GUIDE – EXPERIENCE THE UNIQUE CULTURE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
In many places I have travelled to, northern mountainous provinces such as Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, Son La have their community-based tourism performed very well by ethnic minority people. One of my most memorable experiences is the trip to Doi Village (Tan Lap, Moc Chau) of Dao people. This is an interesting destination which is less known to Vietnamese but has attracted many foreign visitors.
Doi Village has clean and tidy houses in the midst of its charming natural scenery, and people here are very hospitable. There are also villages of the Tai Dam people, Tai Dón people and H’Mong nearby, so visitors can learn about the culture and the differences between these ethnic groups. If you are looking for adventures, you can explore Hang Ma (Ghost Cave), which is associated with the story of territorial disputes of ancient people, the birth of boat graves, along with the unique ancient burial custom in caves in this area.
Another interesting experience is naked bathing in Tu Le. It may sound weird, but some ethnic groups actually practice this custom and find it normal as it is passed down from their grandparents and their parents. Travelling to Tu Le and Yen Bai of Tai Dam people, visitors can enjoy bathing with ethnic people without any hesitation. At night, by the fire, people can eat together and enjoy the stem wine and local dances.
NGUYEN THI PHU, RETIREE – LOCAL PEOPLE HAVE MADE ME FALL IN LOVE AND WANT TO BACK
As a travel enthusiast, I often spend time exploring new places with my family and friends. Being middle aged, my friends and I all prefer natural and quiet places for relaxation or spirituality rather than crowded and noisy cities. Therefore, in recent years, I have often chosen destinations like Ha Giang, Mai Chau (Hoa Binh), Sa Pa (Lao Cai), Lang Son, Quang Tri, and my most recent trip is to the Central Highlands to visit Dak Lak, Kon Tum and Gia Lai.
On those trips, besides admiring the majestic nature, visiting the temples, pagodas, and famous relics, I also had a chance to explore the lives of local people. In Sa Pa, I visited ethnic people’s houses to enjoy the specialties cooked by them. In Ha Giang, I sat on the motorbike of local people to visit places; although the road was quite sloping and scary, they still could handle it skillyfully.
In the Central Highlands, I followed the tourist guide to visit communal houses,attended a very impressive and special campfire night, experienced gong arts, and cultural exchanges with the Central Highlands. Local people also left me with good impressions, which has made me fall in love and desire to return to this land.I think that if local people are guided with the right tourism orientation, they will not only attract and get the tourists to return but also improve their living standard.
VU DUC CUONG, PROGRAMMER – AN UNFORGETTABLE MEMORY FROM A VOLUNTEER TRIP WITH FRIENDS
Referring to Ha Giang, people may immediately think about some famous tourist sites such as Dong Van Stone Plateau, Lung Cu Flag Tower, and Ma Phi Leng Pass. However, I came to a little-known place which is less than 10 kilometers from Ha Giang City (Ha Giang province).
It was Ha Thanh village – a village of Tay people. My volunteer group had more than 10 people from 3 regions: the North, Central, and South of Vietnam. We did not know each other, but the trip miraculously brought us together. And we all had a common goal, not to live on the Internet or to experience adventure, but to experience the lives of indigenous people and help them with our own effort.
During those days, our team had countless wonderful memories such as looking at majestic mountain ranges and natural scenery, admiring the impressive panoramic view of Ha Giang city, playing and singing together, having the opportunity to grow closer to the indigenous people, better understanding their cultural beauty, and doing volunteering for the village (unblocking the stream, organizing a Christmas program for the children in the village). Goodbye Ha Thanh, goodbye friendly people. See you again one day!
LE THI TRA LY, STUDENT – EMOTIONAL VOLUNTEER TRAVEL
At the end of January this year, I had the opportunity to participate in a volunteer trip organized by The Dreamers fund. The journey to Xe Dang village in EaKuêh commune, CưMgar district, Dak Lak province was filled with the sunshine and the wind of Central Highlands.
We passed through gardens of white coffee flowers, hundreds of strong pepper pillars amidst rolling hills and mountains, clear streams of water, the basalt soil becoming shinier in the sunshine. All of them marked a typical majestic and enchanting beauty of the Central Highlands. Xie Dang is a destitute village, so the children here lack many things. Our team spent time giving presents to students at local elementary schools and then visited some poor children’s homes. The talk was really harmonious; we were welcomed by everyone.
And we appreciated that despite the difficult circumstances, the students here did not stop going to school and still pursued their learning path. In the idyllic house, it was so touching when listening to people telling their stories, looking at the optimistic eyes on the face of the parents as well as the innocent and happy smiles of the children when they received gifts. Beautiful mountains of Dak Lak and hospitable people have brought precious memories that I will never forget.
Van Ly | Wanderlust Tips