In 2020, worried that her Giay ethnic culture was slowly disappearing, Vu Thi Ngoc Huong – a young Giay woman who lives in the resort town of Sapa – set up a YouTube channel called “Huong Giay Sa Pa”. Using a smartphone, every day the 27-year-old tour guide conducts virtual tours of Sapa. Huong’s wish is give everyone an entertaining look at her hometown.
Vu Thi Ngoc Huong. (Photo: VOV)
Vu Thi Ngoc Huong was born in Ta Van Giay 2 village, about 9km from Sapa in Lao Cai province. After graduating from university, instead of staying in Hanoi where there are many good job opportunities, Huong chose to return to her hometown to try to preserve the Giay culture.
“When I was little. I listened to people tell ancient stories about the Giay people and was inspired to preserve the culture of my hometown. I realized that many people come to Sapa but only learn about the town center, which is being rapidly urbanized. They don’t know that Sapa has many nearby villages with an interesting culture,” she said.
Huong wants to preserve the Giay culture and help her community profit from it.
About six months ago Huong started conducting online tours and received many positive reviews. Her online tours take 3 forms: scheduled tours every Sunday morning; group tours on request; and individual tours on request. Once a month Huong Tu does a livestream on Giay culture and Sapa’s tourist attractions.
The early days were difficult for Huong. She did everything herself, from scripting to shooting to editing. Later, once she gained more experience, she called on other Giay people to contribute and built a daily YouTube channel called “Huong Giay Sapa”. Huong also set up a Facebook group consisting of young people in Sapa to do a virtual tour called the “Sapa Experience Tour”.
Our online tour organizes one session per week with 10-15 guests. Following the virtual tour, about 80% of participants elect to go on an in-person tour of Sapa. Our online tour participants see a very different Sapa landscape and culture. Their obvious enjoyment has motivated us to create more tours.
Huong’s videos about the life and culture of the Giay people explore Black Chung cakes (a Giay springtime tradition), rice offerings, Giay costumes and traditional stories, and folk songs in the Giay language.
Mr. Nguyen The Nam, who went on one of Huong’s virtual tours, said, “I was very impressed by the tour. Huong is very young, very enthusiastic, very passionate about travel, and loves her hometown. When Huong guides a tour, she makes every place really interesting.”
Huong is a pioneer in the field of online travel. She wants her work to be an inspiration to other young Giay people. Vu Thi Hong, a young Giay woman from Ta Van village who advises Huong on the content of her tours, said, “Huong is dynamic, brimming with youthful enthusiasm. It’s easy to see when you chat with her or watch her vlog. Huong has ambitious dreams, not just for herself, but for her community.”
“She has a lot of creative, even daring, ideas and I think that’s something few others have. We organized an online experience tour to help preserve and promote the culture of Sapa’s ethnic minority. Now we want to contribute to making Sapa’s tourism industry more sustainable,” said Hong.
In 2021 Vu Thi Ngoc Huong won a Gold prize in the “Business Initiative Challenge” contest for her project “Online experience tourism with Sa Pa indigenous people.”
Huong’s virtual tours introduce exciting travel experiences of Sapa. (Photo: VOV)
When asked about her future plans, Huong said she wants to continue to spread the spirit of, and curiosity about, her ethnic culture to other young Giay people.
“I want to set up an experiential tourism business with the participation of the Giay community. Then I can create jobs for people, inspire the community, and teach people about the Giay identity.”
“I know that to achieve this goal I’ll need to work hard. Fortunately, in the process of making videos and organizing online tours, I’ve received lots of support from my family, friends, and community.”
Source: VOV – english.vov.vn – October 4, 2022