Homestay Quang Thọ – Gradually changing toward a better life
The owners of Quang Tho Homestay, Mr. Lo Quang Thich and Mrs. Dinh Thi Nhieu have been working as farmers, who are accustomed to the fields and fishing lake. However, they came to realize that those jobs could not ensure a full-fledged life for their household. To own a homestay and to receive visitors is a new experience for Mrs. Nhieu, in other word, is a remarkable effort to change her old self, to steadily get used to the new occupation of the family.
The initial memory of receiving guest is engraved clearly on Mrs. Nhieu’s mind. She was very confused and shy at that time, hardly knew of what they should do in order to serve the first visitor. Since this is a field that she had yet to have many experiences, she told herself it should take a long time for her to be familiar with it. And when she has become more acquainted with the job, her next worry is the shyness toward foreign visitors, as the language barrier is quite difficult to handle. Then her family has started to learn English with a goal to converse naturally with foreign guests in the future. She confessed that she shall never forget the excitement when her effort was paid as she could greet her guest in English. It were short and simple greetings, yet the guests’ reactions were so genuine, their faces brightened with surprise and delight, which made her felt so warm inside, and she knew she had never felt so proud of herself like that before.
Born into a family of 8 children, in the past, Mrs. Nhieu’s maternal family dwelled in Co Xa hamlet which was more of a remote and deserted area than her current place. When her family moved to the new place, the children could go to school with less distance, yet the transportation was still a hassle and they could not afford a boat to cross the Black River. Mrs. Nhieu recalled that in 2002, she and her husband worked pretty far from home, they had to pick up the children from school late in the evening, then were occupied with cooking for the family and for their cattle. The only light they had at that time was the weak and unstable light coming from the oil lamp. Mrs. Nhieu said that she has never envisioned that a day like today will come for her family.
The former lifestyle was filled with many difficulties and brought little income though everyone worked so diligently. No longer after their marriage, Mrs. Nhieu’s parents-in-laws passed away, so there were only two people in the newborn family to rely on each other and build up their home with the small assets. As she remembers the hardships she had to go through, her eyes somehow clouded with tears. Her bony arm stopped for a moment before she dried her tears, as if there was something appeared on her mind. Just like she had realized a source of comfort in her life, she said with a brighter voice that she was blessed to have a caring husband who has been by her side in both happiness and sorrow.
When she first learnt of Community-based Tourism (CBT) and Homestay settlement project, she was hesitated to bring the issue to her husband. Eventually, the couple discussed together, that the project will support they to build a stable new house and they will have an opportunity to meet with visitors from many places. It would surely be an exceptional joy for the family.
Until now, the husband and wife support each other with frequent maize, cassava cultivation and pisciculture. On the day visitors come, together they try hard to make the guest feel a homely atmosphere, prepare the best food, introduce the nature-exploring activities and share the cultural characteristics of their lineage. Mrs. Nhieu has a handful of duties with her, yet she also manages to be the leader of the hamlet’s Art team. Once a week, the team gathers to perform for the villagers, to improve their cultural life after time of tiring labour work.
Quang Tho Homestay is named after the son of the family. Following the stepping stones to the house, visitors will be welcome by the sweet flower scent gently mixes with the smell of fresh wood. The more guests they have the chance to meet with, the more familiar they feel with the new job as well as the joy to share their stories to many interesting people of different places. The owners are able to learn from visitors’ comments and advices, to change the decoration, service quality improvement, etc., or simply elated with honest and heartwarming reviews. The guestbook which Mrs. Nhieu keeps with so much appreciation is her great motivation to going forward, as she wishes more and more people will share their feelings of the time they spend here with her family.
Da Bac District, Hoa Binh city, April 2016
Written by Mi Nguyen