|Houses on stilts in Pac Ngoi Village
Their stilt houses, nestled against the mountainside and reflected in Ba Be Lake, create a charming picture. A decade ago, the idea arose of using the stilt houses and the local people’s hospitality to promote tourism. Now providing homestay service has become a popular way of earning a living for Pac Ngoi villagers.
It is 2 kilometers from the Ba Be Lake crossroads to Pac Ngoi village. Pac Ngoi is located between an alluvial plain full of corn stalks and a range of rocky mountains.
For a hundred years, people in Nam Mau commune have thought of Ba Be Lake as a precious gift from Mother Nature. Now it has become a major source of income for the Tay ethnic people.
Pac Ngoi village has 80 households totaling 400 people. Each stilt house can accommodate up to 70 visitors. All homestay houses in Pac Ngoi look simple from the outside but, in fact, are equipped with air conditioners, water heaters, and free Wi-Fi access.
Hoang Duc Thuan, a freelance tour guide, told VOV “The homestay model in Pac Ngoi is good. The houses are clean. The locals are good at cooking. The model has been operational for about 10 years. The service is not as professional as in other places but local people are very hospitable, compared to elsewhere.”
|Tourists make Troi cake with locals
Ten years ago, Ngo Van Toan opened his stilt house to tourists. Like most families in Pac Ngoi, Toan used to be a farmer but changed his livelihood when he realized the potential of his big, clean house. Everything began when a foreign couple who were researching the area around Ba Be Lake asked to stay with Toan’s family and follow him in his daily activities – going to the field, chopping firewood, weaving fabric, and singing Tay folk songs in the evening. When they said good-bye to Toan’s family, they suggested Toan offer homestay service to tourists and promised to recommend him to their friends.
Since then Toan and other Pac Ngoi villagers have been offering homestay service. As the number of tourists has increased more and more local families have decided to invest in larger stilt houses.
Toan says that what makes visitors satisfied is living in a friendly, happy environment and eating delicious meals cooked and served by Tay people.
“Everyone in the village has lived in stilt houses for a long time. In 2004, a company asked me to provide accommodation for foreign visitors. I decided to upgrade my house. 20 other households in the village have followed suit. I have 10 private rooms and a big room which can hold a group of 15 to 20 people. We provide meals for all guests. We cook it ourselves and they are very satisfied,” Toan explained.
Visitors come to Pac Ngoi, which is in the middle of Ba Be National Park, to see stilt houses and listening to Then and Sli singing, the typical music of Tay ethnic people.
Jean Francois, a French tourist, told about his impression “Ba Be is widely known. The local people are friendly and tidy. They cook very well. I prefer doing homestay because the locals cook better than a restaurant. A homestay lets me experience the daily life of the locals.”
If you come to Pac Ngoi in the spring, you can take part in a ceremony to pray for bumper crops and good weather. There are also ceremonies for babies and the elderly.
Each year, Pac Ngoi receives about 5,500 foreign visitors who stay 1 to 3 nights. The homestay service is improving Pac Ngoi people’s lives.