|Rustic charm: Local man Nguyen Duc Nha has offered home-stay services, introducing tourists to farming and rural lifestyles in My Son.
by Hoai Nam
Nguyen Duc Nha, 53, has introduced tourists to farming and rural lifestyles in My Son – a very new service being offered near the My Son Sanctuary, a World Heritage Site.
Nha and a group of 22 farmers in the agriculture-based village, 1km from the My Son Sanctuary, have created home-stay services to allow tourists to remain in the area after a day of visiting the famous sites.
The village, with over 2,000 residents, offers trekking, cycling, mountain climbing and boating, as well as joining a cooking class with the hosts.
"Previously, tourists spent only one day visiting the My Son Sanctuary because hotel and guest houses were not developed in the area. Yet, tourists wanted to stay longer in this tranquil area, 30km from the nearest town of Nam Phuoc and 70km from Tam Ky City in the central Quang Nam Province," said Nguyen Viet Trinh, a tour operator in Ha Noi.
"Home-stay services, which have been booming in the area of the ancient town of Hoi An, have become an attraction for tourists," he said.
|Serene setting: A lake near My Son village used for boat excursions and net fishing as part of a new home-stay service introduced in June.
Tourists can book a two-day, one night package tour in the village to visit the World Heritage site and explore nature attractions around the village.
Tourists can also arrive at the village by bus or motorbike from Da Nang or Hoi An, and continue on to My Son Sanctuary.
Visitors are able to identify home-stay service households when they see a stone carving with names of the hosts outside their homes.
A slope leads tourists to a rural house, with a clay tile roof in the middle of green gardens and trees.
"Most of the thatched roof and clay wall houses in the village were replaced by newer buildings. However, tourists can discover a different lifestyle when living here," said Nha, a home-stay host.
"We offer VND300,000 for one night with a clean and quiet room and VND200,000 for a meal," he added, noting that his house has available a room for two with a double bed.
"It's a pilot project to boost community tourism in the village, so there are only five households providing home-stay service this year. We want to introduce rural farming skills and the lifestyles of local people," Nha explained.
The tour begins with a 3km bicycle ride from the house to Thach Ban Lake.
Later, a small boat for two that docks at the pier will provide a one hour cruise. "Tourists can order net fishing on the lake and cooking lunch at the site," the host added.
"However, we suggest tourists go around the village or visit An Hoa Buddhist pagoda near the lake. This is the way that tourists can experience a bit of the spiritual life of rural people."
|Daily grind: Nha shows a manual grinding rice mill at his home in My Son village in the central Quang Nam Province. — VNS Photos Cong Thanh
Nui Chua-Hon Den mountain, 700km above sea level, is a favourite spot for trekking and climbing. Though the path is not so adventurous, many tourists still enjoy the nature of the jungle.
Also, a waterfall and rock climbing will offer a challenge to tourists, though the unspoiled beauty of this tropical forest helps tourists work through the hours of hard trekking.
The trek normally takes six hours from the bottom to the peak of the mountain. However, tourists can also reserve a night stay in the forest during their trekking.
Hosts also offer tourists the chance to help with dinner by cycling to the market.
A small market serving villagers reflects the life of local people, and tourists can find fresh food, including fish, pork, chicken, maize and vegetables.
Nguyen Thi Hong Anh, a villager, said she is assigned to cook for tourists.
"We offer favourite foods for tourists because we want to introduce local specialities and let them taste what we eat in our daily meals. Pancakes, spring rolls, sauteed wild vegetable, glory morning and pumpkin sprouts are major offerings on our menu," she said.
"Grilled fish and chicken are also offered when tourists buy them from the local market. Of course, my quang (a noodle dish particular to central region), is the most ordered food, while braised snake-head fish and rice also tests the appetites of tourists," Anh said, adding that hosts often invite visitors to join them as they cook together.
The hosts will also organise dancing and singing of local bai choi folk songs from the central region.
"I can play Hawaiian guitar and dan co (Vietnamese two-chord fiddle) to perform folk songs. It's a traditional life that we have inherited from ancestors for generations," Nha said.
The 53-year-old farmer said the services not only earn him and the villagers a good income, but they also help local people preserve their traditional rural lives.
The My Son community tourism village has hosted over 200 tourists since it opened in June.
Tra Kieu travel and tour, a travel agency in Da Nang City, arranges tour services.
The community tourism programme has benefited from the project "Strengthening of Inland Tourism in Quang Nam", supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with funding of US$1.3 million.
Nguyen Thi Huyen from the ILO said a three-year project was launched to support local people by developing sustainable tourism development in early 2011.
She said over 42 households in the village had received training on tourism services, speaking English, cooking and customer care.
The My Son home-stay service will also add to Quang Nam Province's successful community tourism activities, such as farming, fishing, boating, biking and pottery in Hoi An. — VNS