In a land amidst the clouds

Y Ty Commune in Bat Xat District, Lao Cai province, has welcomed many visitors after the provincial authorities allowed the resumption of tourist attractions and services following the easing of social distancing orders.

In a land amidst the clouds

Ha Nhi ethnic minority people's traditional Tet Festival is a unique tourism product in Bat Xat District.

The initiative of Ha Nhi ethnic minority people

The Y Ty Cloud homestay in Ly Xa Xuy is located in the head of a slope where visitors can see a panoramic view of Y Ty Commune. Xuy said that buses from Lao Cai City to the centre of the commune have to pass through his house.

Xuy was born into a famous family in Y Ty. His grandfather is the folk artisan Ly A Cho, who is considered as real life history book on the culture of Ha Nhi ethnic minority people; meanwhile his uncle is the locality’s leader. After graduating from the National University of Civil Engineering, Xuy returned to his hometown and open his homestay last year when Y Ty began to appear on the Vietnamese tourism map.

Y Ty had been a remote land in Lao Cai Province for many years. This border commune has been famous for bobbing clouds and the magical stories of the Ha Nhi people. However, the road from Lao Cai City to Y Ty was still very rough and an extremely arduous journey even as recent as ten years ago. At that time, the area had only one homestay. Visitors had to spread cushions and blankets and sleep on the stairs.

Only a few years later, local young people like Ly Xa Xuy began to change their mind about working in the border land. Many others, including Phu Suy Tho and Chu Che Xa, decided to run their homestays. They have paid much attention to designing the traditional houses more beautifully. Phu Suy Tho has carefully prepared a path full of hoa huong duong (sunflowers) for visitors to take photos. Chu Che Xa has become a professional tour guide who introduces the customs of Ha Nhi people to the guests. Y Ty can now welcome over 2,000 visitors, mainly staying at indigenous people’s homestays. Notably, points for viewing clouds, small cafeterias and rest areas for guests to take photos were all built at the homestays.

Xuy admitted that he has grown a stronger attachment to Y Ty than he had ever imagined since he began his involvement in the tourism business. Previously, he had never taken any notice of the stories told by his grandfather as well as the importance of traditional offerings and processions. However, he studied hard and learnt from his predecessors. The young people also always promote the beauty of their locality on social networks.

Xuy’s VND800 million

At a tourism conference held in Lao Cai Province at the beginning of the year, the organisers asked Xuy how much money he spent constructing his homestay. He said he invested nearly VND800 million, a large amount for s new start-up. Meanwhile, revenue comes mainly from the VND200,000 per night for a room and his homestay’s maximum capacity of 20 guests.

 

Since the bridge over the Muong Hum spillway was put into operation and the border patrol road along the Red River was completed, visitors have paid much attention to Bat Xat District with Y Ty, A Lu and Ngai Thau Communes being as beautiful as Sapa. With wonderful, terraced paddy fields, the landmark No.92 where the Red River flows into Vietnam and the unique and diverse indigenous culture of the Ha Nhi ethnic minority people, Bat Xat is waiting for its momentum to rise. Coming to Y Ty, visitors can rest and enjoy pristine places that have not been urbanised like Sapa.

However, so far, there have not been many tourism products developed in Y Ty. Although the local young people, including Xuy, Xa and Tho, have tried to exploit new destinations and routes, they have faced numerous difficulties. They have not had professional guidance or assistance. Therefore, their dynamism alone is not quite enough for this mountainous commune to develop. They are still confused when any guests need to find a motorbike to go to other destinations or are hesitant to experiment with new forms of tourism.

Meanwhile, the price of land in Y Ty has risen as it has become gradually more famous. Several locals sold their land to earn a large sum of money. Many people met Xuy and offered an attractive price for his homestay. However, he refused and encouraged his friends not to sell their land.

Y Ty people have not really ever been familiar with tourist activities. There is no history of that there, so it will be difficult to apply any formula to the development of modern tourism in the mountainous commune. Therefore, Xuy has not thought about the recovery of his investment capital of VND800 million. He constructed his homestay by himself, not following any professional design concept. Despite support from his relatives, he is sometimes worried because many things were very expensive. For example, an original Ha Nhi person like Xuy could not find a beautiful and affordable bamboo tray which is a traditional handicraft product of Ha Nhi ethnic minority people in Bat Xat District. He even had to buy a rattan chair in Lao Cai City. Bat Xat has great potential in terms of nature and cultural identities, but it lacks the well-invested products and services that can help the locality develop in a more sustained way.

There were also several English courses for the locals like Xuy. However, after the Covid-19 outbreak, all have had to restart.

Anyway, in a land amidst the clouds, the Ha Nhi people still dream of the further development in the future. Nhan Dan

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