|The Seo My Ty hydroelectric reservoir in Sa Pa, Lào Cai province (North).|
Located 20 km from Sa Pa, Seo My Ty is at an altitude of 1600 m. Thanks to its sublime landscapes and its cool climate all year round, this village has been called "the little Dà Lat" of the Northwest. The houses of the 100 families who live there are spread over nearly 150 ha around a hydroelectric reservoir. It is the highest man-made lake in the country, the waters of which retain a jade-green color throughout the year.
It is at sunrise and sunset that the lake takes on its finest adornment: at dawn, when the mist embraces the surface of the water and the first rays of the sun shine on it, or at dawn. twilight, when the last streaks of light linger on the shimmering surface of the lake.
Seo My Ty is like a precious pearl. While the municipal city of Sa Pa is overcrowded and has undergone intense development where restaurants, hotels, accommodation and tourist establishments face stiff competition, Seo My Ty has been preserved from this roaring urbanization.
According to Hamlet Chief Hang A Tang, Seo My Ty was not connected to the national electricity grid just a few years ago. The roads have also been modernized recently. Almost ten years ago, it took a whole day for the villagers to walk from hill to hill and reach the commune of Ta Van. They worked hard in the fields, but rice cultivation did not lift them out of poverty and parents did not have enough money to send their children to school.
The construction of the hydroelectric reservoir was a real revolution for the inhabitants. The village has undergone remarkable changes in recent years and the livelihoods of the inhabitants have improved considerably. Many families have taken advantage of this source of water to raise fish, as well as to develop tourism products and services.
After learning how to keep cold-water fish from farmers in neighboring towns, Giàng A Tua opened his own salmon and sturgeon farm four years ago. With three breeding ponds, his family now earns an annual income of nearly 200 million VND. Visitors can now camp or take a boat trip on the hydroelectric reservoir or sleep with locals to experience the culture and daily life of the largely H’mông community of Seo My Ty.
|Villagers from Seo My Ty present their traditional fabrics to a foreign tourist.|
The local authorities encouraged the inhabitants to develop tourist products imbued with the typical H’mông cultural characteristics while offering them training on tourism promotion. Although the COVID-19 epidemic has had a definite impact on tourist activities in the hamlet, residents remain optimistic. They keep a normal life and take advantage of the lull to repair or improve their homes.
Giàng A Qua's home is located in the shade of an old tree, opposite the hydroelectric reservoir. The 30-year-old is considered a successful example in Ta Van commune because he has managed to escape poverty. When he converted his house into a hostel in 2019 he hosted more than 1000 backpackers per month, which allowed him to make a profit of over 20 million VND per month.
Giàng A Qua explains that COVID-19 is not of great concern to him and the other homestay owners in the hamlet who want to attract visitors with their enthusiasm and hospitality. Even though the epidemic has seen complicated developments, villagers are preparing to reopen their doors to tourists at any time, with even better services.
This place looks a bit like the Sa Pa of yesteryear, when there were few construction sites and crowds did not yet swarm around every corner. Within this magnificent painting of natural landscapes, the sincere, peaceful and joyful hearts of the inhabitants of Seo My Ty welcome us with open arms.
Text and photos: Thúy Hà - Cao Huong /CVN
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