INSIDE NORTH VIETNAM
Travel inside a culture with Cao Bo Homestay
About the project
Travel to sit in a coffee place ? to do shopping ? to enjoy a city modified by tourism ?
Travel to discover a culture, traditions, authentic cities and villages, and ways of life ?
This project was born when a french woman and a vietnamese man, from the local Tay minority in Hà Giang, met.
He had always wanted to work with tourists and travellers on a daily basis, and she had always found meaningful to protect culture and act for local development.
1. The project
– Cao Bo Homestay
“Homestay” = A holiday or other period abroad spent staying in the home of a local family.
What better opportunity to discover a country and its culture ?
This project has already been implemented and we have already hosted tourists and volunteers.
The village is located on top of one the many mountains near Viêt Lâm, small city 30km away from Hà Giang. About 20 houses are resting delicately between rice fields, banana trees and the mountain’s wild forest. A path drawn by the comes and go’s of motorbikes lead you around this peaceful Tay ethnic minority village. In Vietnamese villages, it is common to find entire families because it is part of culture that family stays close to help eachother out.
Goal of the homestay : Help local tourism development
The concept is to allow travellers to experience the local mountain way of life in North Vietnam and to discover the ancient traditions and culture it holds. In the same idea, an exchange of culture happens when travellers stay at the homestay because interaction happens between two very different cultures.
Our project relies not only on allowing travellers to experience the real hill tribe way of life but also to raise awareness about the poor possibilities these people have to make income. For that reason, our project also aims to redistribute the income we get from your stay with us to the local families. This is how we thought it through; The average price of a homestay in Vietnam is 12$ a day (300 000 VND). As you will be staying in one of the members of the family’s house, we think it fair to provide them with 4$ per night per person (100 000 VND). We will often head to the market in order to insure 3 meals a day at the price of 4$ per person (100 000 VND). Finally, to make this project viable in the long term, we also keep a part of the income, not more than 4$ a day (100 000 VND) to develop the homestay and the potential it has.
Added to the accomodation, we also offer to our guests different flexible options to discover the surroundings such as visiting a local market, swimming in a nearby waterfall, visiting a local school, massage, karaoke night. All of these activites are done with young local tour guides who are working with us on the project.
(Legend: un week-end with our first guests, 3 french girls that were very satisfied about the experience!)
In the same idea, and for the more adventurous, we are implementing a motorbike roadtrip to discover all the local minorities of the north, the breathtaking sceneries and the strong culture heritage it holds. The travelers will be accompagnied by our local english speaking tour guides. This form of responsible tourism gives us the opportunity to offer to these young people a chance to have the professional futur they desire.
(Legend: View from Lung Cu Flag Tower in Dong Van)
Cao Bo Homestay rapidly became more than just a homestay.
Every family in the village owns land on which they grow vegetables & fruits for their own consumption. They should because Vietnam has the perfect climate for prosperous agriculture !
The idea is to help the local community by growing on our land and giving some of the outcome to the villagers who don’t own land to plant. They could then consume it or sell it at the local market. The other part of the outcome would be used for the homestay.
– Cooperative for local tea & culture protection
A bit of history …
From all the treasures the North holds, there is the tea. Amateurs or professionals, I am talking to you !
You must know that tea is an essential part of locals way of life. Green tea from morning to night it is.
“Tửu sáng trà trưa”
“Drink wine in the morning and tea at noon.”
Shan Tuyet Tea trees have been in the center of local families in Cao Bo region. Found a long time ago, these trees have been naturally cared for since they exist as they are a symbol of purity in their culture. Shan Tuyet tea is quite famous in the region and as the Vietnamese culture demands it, the people in the village respect eachother’s trees and their attachment to specific trees who have been in their family for generations.
On the mountain, at a lower elevation, you can find younger trees. Near the top, some trees can be close to a thousand years old. Farmers will hike for hours to pick tea.
Picking tea usually happens in Spring as the leaves have one bud – two leaves and have to be picked at that moment, the sooner the better. They must be handled very carefully to prevent oxidation and maintain their natural flavor and aroma. While spring is the ideal season for picking tea, farmers continue to harvest throughout the year. Tea has important social functions among the ethnic minorities in this region : guest will always be offered tea as an expression of hospitality.
Hill tribes in the north Vietnam, like the one in our village, are still rooted in rice terraces, tea and herbal trees.
(Legend: taking a nap on the tea trees belonging to a local H’mong family in the North)
Shan Tuyet Tea’s business is non-existant or not very well developed due to a lack of knowledge of the market and sales technique. When it is sold, its price is ridiculously low compared to its quality and purity.
It is then a real gold mine for tea professionals seeking for quality, authenticity and cultural discovery.
What do we want to do about it ?
Shan Tuyet Tea has the ability to offer local population an alternative of income that requires less efforts and man power than breeding or rice/corn culture.
For that reason, we wish to create a tea cooperative whose goal will be to preserve the tea heritage and allow families to benefit from the tea local business.
In order to do that, we will be needing specific equipment such as drying tea machines, packaging and tools for picking.
– Volunteering missions
We are not superman and we don’t want to be !
We wish to travel this long road to success of building a strong and healthy community accompagnied by people. People who share our values, our vision about the project and who will help us to generate a positive social impact no matter what. We want volunteers to feel as invested as we are and feel like they play a very important role in this project.
Simply because this project is all about :
– Spreading kindness
– Respecting the nature and what it gives us
– Protecting local minorities and their strong culture
The volunteering missions will allow us to achieve what we need money for. The volunteers will be teaching english to the children in the village, taking care of our community gardens, helping in farming seasons and many more.
This form of “voluntourism” allows volunteers to be involved in local project and to take part in this life that is so different from theirs. They will learn new skills on the field and locals in exchange get daily help in their activities (in the fields, at the school ..). We’re always opened to new ideas and we love the idea that every volunteer implements his own personnal touch to the project.
(Legend: First english class for the children, with Clémentine and Quentin)
(Legend: volunteers harvesting rice)
We are already visible on many volunteering platforms (workaway, worldpackers etc) and working on improving our missions every day.
This crowdfunding campaign will help us to welcome volunteers in confortable conditions and finance their stay with us.
2. Why this project ?
The concept is to offer to these local people, the majority being farmers and only living off rice and corn culture, other possibilities of income.
Fact : Rice harvesting in Vietnam happens in October (once), although its culture happens in 6 months. The month of October is then crucial for these farmers who are forced to estimate their rice consumption for a year in order to sell the rest at the market. This income varies from year to year depending on the climate but it rarely allows them to live comfortably.
So what do these people have to offer in exchange ?
Answer: a rich culture and generosity beyond limits.
Anyone who has already been to Vietnam can attest of this. That is why Vietnam is also called “the smiling country”.
Despite poverty at a large scale in a still developping country, this aspect is directly balanced by cultural wealth spread out from South to North but also by a way of thinking and living of Vietnamese people that is resumed by simplicity and joy in all matters. Happiness isn’t something unreachable for these people who find it in the very simple things of life; share a nice meal with friends, be with their families, play pool and many more …
Tourism is growing and growing in Vietnam for two reasons: nature is everywhere, landscapes are beautiful and people feel good here thanks to a very warm welcoming from locals.
Vietnamese people have this will to share their culture and make strangers discover their traditions. This is why I believe this project has an enormous potential. It’s a win – win. Allowing travellers to truly connect with the culture thanks to locals and allowing locals to benefit from a small financial support.
The reason that pushes me to call out for help is, that you as much as me, are very lucky to have been born in a situation where our families could afford to raise us comfortably, allowing us to go to school and university to give us all the chances to succeed in more than just surviving. To live knowing that everyday we could fofer ourselves something that would satisfy us or simply a work that would make us happy. All the children in Vietnam don’t have this luck and thanks to this platform, to our means and our involvment, we CAN offer parents and children of this small village a better life comfort.
I believe that we all want to travel, from our living room or by taking the plane. In both cases, we are in need of meeting people, who are alike or not, to share experiences or our differences, because we are social beings. So when we cannot fly towards another country, we can meet its culture, way if life and traditions from a distance thanks to this kind of crowdfunding platforms.
If this project succeeds, I have the will to extend to other villages of Hà Giang province.
What are the funds for?
The fundraising will be used to finance 3 aspects of the project:
– Facilitate the access to the homestay/ village (build a small cement road)
– Help to the launch of a local activity: the tea cooperative (tools, machines)
– Accompany our volunteering programs (help to finance meals, transports, english books for the children)
To achieve this, we will need :
1. The road
For a 3km road,
– 2 tones of cement (130€)
– 1 truck of sand (80€)
– Water, we use the natural source of the mountain
– Various tools (20€)
– Workforce for 7 days (2 workers, 140€)
Sub-total : 370€
2. Tea cooperative
– Drying machines (200€)
– Packaging, including paper bags, stickers with logo + description (100€ for 500 units)
– Workforce, family and villagers
Sub-total : 300€
3. Volonteering programs
– School furniture, english books, crayons, pens, paint, brushes … (50€)
– 1 week of food for 1 volunteer (25€) / 1 month (100€) / 3 months or 1 month for 3 volunteers or other (300€)
Sub-total : 350€
Total : 1020€
About the project owner
At 24 years old, I am someone who thinks a lot about the meaning of life, I tried to not make any mistakes, I tried to make my parents proud by having a good professionnal career and be happy at the same time. I most probably failed at having a good professional career but I am happy. I was supposed to be in Vietnam for only 2 months, as a volunteer in an english school. It has been already 6 months that I am here and that I am not leaving now. I graduated of a master in communication last september and I decided to start travelling for all the good reasons that can exist. And then, I realized that I wanted to undertake something that had meaning to me and that would have as a goal to help the people that surround me to preserve their lifestyle and culture as its facing a big threat: the expansion of tourism in the North.
Being a person that feels concerned about the world we live in, I try to lead this project in an ecological way, in a self-sufficient local community that has given me a lot in terms of generosity and authenticity.
Facebook page of the project : https://www.facebook.com/InsideNorthVietnam/
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/_inside_north_vietnam_/?hl=en