With the vitality and determination of youth, ethnic young men Ly Xa Xuy and Giang A Chu, both 28, have worked to promote their homeland’s tourism in northern Vietnam.
A homestay model amidst the sea of clouds in Y Ty
Backpackers enjoy a meal prepared at Ly Xa Xuy’s homestay.
Y Ty commune, Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province is widely known among travel lovers for their stunning terrace fields, and seas of clouds like a real fairy land. Ethnic minority groups account for 95% of Y Ty’s population, with the majority of them being Ha Nhi people, who are famous for mushroom-shaped earthen houses.
28-year-old Ly Xa Xuy is the grandson of Ly Seo Cho, a celebrated folk cultural practitioner among Ha Nhi ethnic community in Y Ty. He was one of a few students in Mo Phu Trai village to pass the university entrance exam in 2011. Graduating from the Hanoi University of Civil Engineering, he returned to his hometown and recognised that the tourist products and services in Y Ty hadn’t met the increasing demand of visitors to the commune.
At the end of 2017, Xa Xuy explored more about trinh tuong” (earthen) houses of the Ha Nhi ethnic group, which can survive from severe weather conditions, in order to realise his idea of constructing his own earthen homestay facility on the mountain side of Mo Phu Trai village.
On the National Day (September 2) in 2018, Xa Xuy’s homestay named Y Tu Clouds was officially opened for visitors. Seen from above, the homestay impresses visitors with three earthy yellow blocks which are titled with green-coated steel on the roof. The facility is surrounded by a ground, a green vegetable garden, trees and an artificial spring.
Seen from above, Ly Xa Xuy’s homestay impresses visitors with three earthy yellow blocks which are titled with green-coated steel on the roof.
Since its debut, Y Ty Clouds has established as an attractive address for visitors, particularly youngsters. Quynh Mo, a tourist from Hanoi, said that she joined her friends on a tour from Lao Cai to Y Ty, and decided to stay at Y Ty Clouds. She expressed her satisfaction at the homestay’s good services, clean mattress and blankets, and toilet.
“The homestay’s owner has a great sense of humour, and the homestay has an amazing view,” she said.
Y Ty Clouds is now providing two bed rooms priced at VND80,000 per person and one private room priced at VND250,000, allowing it to serve up to 18 tourists at the same time. Visitors can also order home-cooked meals at the homestay which are prepared by Ly Xa Xuy’s family members.
The accommodation has also been well received by many foreigners. Wagner Brandt, a vacationer from Germany, said he had a great experience during several days staying there.
Y Ty Clouds has welcomed hundreds of holiday makers since its inauguration, and Ly Xa Xuy has made more efforts to provide better services to his customers.
A trustworthy H’Mong ethnic porter
Vietnam’s north-western region is famous on adventure lovers’ tourist map for possessing many majestic mountains, including Ta Chi Nhu Peak (2,979 metres above sea level) and Ta Xua Peak (2,865 metres above sea level) in Tram Tau district, Yen Bai province.
Hikers to the peaks can hire local experienced H’Mong porters, of which Giang A Chu is the most appreciated one.
Born in 1991 in Ta Xua village, Ban Cong commune, Tram Tau district, Giang A Chu has followed his parents’ footprints to Ta Xua Peak since he was a little boy to collect firewood, clean the fields and do farm work.
He joined the army when he was 18 and returned to his homeland after two years of duty. When a group of tourists from Hanoi came to Ban Cong and sought a local man who had good medical fitness, climbing skills and tracking ability, as well as having experience in the army, Giang A Cong was quickly picked for working as their porter.
Hikers walking in the land of purple Chi Pau flowers on their way to conquer Ta Chi Nhu peak.
From that beginning, Giang A Chu became one of the first people establishing a trail to explore Ta Xua, and then Ta Chi Nhu. Over the past seven years, Giang A Chu has served an average of 30 delegations of tourists every year on the journey to successfully conquer Ta Xua and Ta Chi Nhu peaks.
According to A Chu, during each trip, he has to carry hikers’ luggage, which is around 25 to 35 kg in weight. He said that each trip is a real challenge to him because of unpredictable weather conditions and the difference in air temperature, requiring him to prepare all of the necessary items for hikers in advance.
Sometimes on their way back to the mountain foot, hikers have become so exhausted that A Chu has to carry them on his back. Despite receiving a bonus of several hundreds of Vietnamese dongs, A Chu has to suffer pain in his foot for a few days after.
Working as a porter is a seasonal job as hikers often flock to the two peaks between September to April when the weather is dry and cold, seldom do they make their trips during summer. During peak season, by guiding a trip which lasts two or three days, A Chu can earn from VND700,000 to VND1 million. During the low season, he returns to farm work and part-tine jobs for his living.
Following A Chu’s footprints on the journey to Ta Xua and Ta Chi Nhu, climbers have discovered many stunning check-in destinations, such as “the spine of dinosaur” and “sea of clouds” on the top of Ta Xua, the “land of Chi Pau flower”, “the tortoise cliff”, and “the moss forest”.