Waiting for spring in the land of white flowers

Thursday, 2020-12-31 17:43:37
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Thai ethnic women in Son La province. (Photo: Vietnam+)
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NDO – White plum flowers are blooming these days on the way to the Moc Chau Plateau in Son La province, signalling that spring may come earlier this year.

Since the Son La hydro power plant was put into operation, the Thai ethnic people have moved to the resettlement area in Doi 2 village in Tan Lap district. In their new residential area, the Thai have preserved their distinct traditions and also contributed to local socio-economic development.

Thai ethnic women in Doi 2 village embroider whenever and wherever they have free time, while working in rice fields or doing housework at home. Notably, they never do it alone but gather in groups, embroidering while chatting about their family, children and crops.

The ‘pieu’ scarves have worn throughout the life of the Thai ethnic women from when they are young girls. A traditional pieu scarf must be decorated with the three patterns of ta leo, cut pei and sai peng, which are believed to protect them from bad luck.

Meanwhile, Doi 1 village is home to nearly 300 households with a total population of over 1,300, who live in traditional stilt houses. The village is surrounded by mountains, forests, tea hills and terraced rice fields.

In 2010, several local Thai ethnic households started a community-based tourism model, inviting tourists to experience the pastoral life, enjoy the indigenous dishes, and try their hands at picking up tea leaves and making tea.

According to the head of the village, Vi Van Van, a total of six households in the village operate homestay facilities in their traditional stilt houses, which can accommodate hundreds of visitors.

Homestay facilities in Doi 1 village. (Photo: NDO/Mai Lu)

In addition to encouraging the development of community-based tourism, local authorities have implemented communication events to raise public awareness of environmental protection.

Ha Van Quyet’s family is the first household in the village to launch a homestay facility. His homestay welcomes around 500 visitors every year, at a cost of only VND100,000 for one-night stay.

Since the beginning of this year, the number of vacationers saw significant decrease due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, local people have taken this opportunity to renovate their houses and improve their foreign language and marketing skills through online training courses.

Head of Moc Chau district’s culture and information office, Dinh Thi Huong said that tourism has significantly contributed to improving locals’ incomes.

A community-based Tourism project focused on women was recently kicked off in Moc Chau and Van Ho districts, Son La province by Action on Poverty in Vietnam.

Funded by the Australian Government, the AUD550,000 project aims to increase the management and operation of tourist activities in the localities, provide financial support for local women, and enhance the community's role in offering tourism services to improve income among locals.

After one year of the project’s implementation, the number of people getting higher incomes from tourism has reached 334 and as many as 276 women have benefited from the project, the majority of them from ethnic minority groups.

In addition, 16 groups providing tourism services have been established, 13 of them led by women, under the project.

Despite certain obstacles caused by COVID-19, the local Thai ethnic community has exerted a great effort to overcome difficulties, promoted a sharing spirit, and placed hope on a new spring with more encouraging achievements.