Let’s do the good things for Sapa
Sapa has been changing so much since tourism boom about 12 years ago in this area. No doubt to say that many nice change of improvement into the local life, especially on minority people. More schools have been built, road and transportation are getting much better than it used to be, people here has chance to learn lots from modern life that build up great sources of education to this remote area. Besides, how preserving the local culture is a big question and big mission for local tourism administration in order to maintain the sustainable local tourism.
The storm of tourism is taking local people leave out their habitation for trading, with limited on education and poverty, locals easily fall on the demanding of ‘money chasing’, meanwhile, the value of their own culture will be at risk. More and more children now quit their free education in the village to follow tourist to sell things. More and more people leave their village and agriculture for Sapa town to find their luck of earning money. The handicraft works that have been with them in thousand of years also vanished, people make their way to Lao Cai to buy product to sell instead of making by themselves. The little society has been changed and it is in the threatening of relationship broken when they go too close on the trading competition. More and more ‘mixed’ children were born in Sapa without father. And maybe their fathers left without intention of they have a baby here.
Everything is priced in Sapa now, if you want a photo from someone, you may have to pay them something or buying stuff from them. This is the new behavior from locals as Vietnamese in rural areas usually love photos and they are happy enough if you show them after taking.
I am not expected to make a big change for Sapa, that work is too big for me, I just wanted to rise a few words to tourist and local authority to consider their acts to this lovely destination. Most of people travel to Sapa got a big heart to locals, to this scenic place, the useful information are needed to help tourist doing the right things. There are many tour operators out there still ignore the the impact of Sapa and forget the long term of destination they run the business to. Here are some of my personal suggestions to people travel to Sapa, your comments are more than welcome. All I want is making a Sapa as the long term tourist destination for all travelers.
1, if you love any local products, buy them from the shops, not trading directly to local minority people. Someone may think doing directly is helping directly to their family, but in long term is not! Children need time for schools rather than hanging around all day to sell things. Competition between them is an issue too.
2, Don’t offer money or anything to make photos or other purposes. Asking before making photos, if they refuse, just please walk away.
3, Please don’t give candy or biscuits to people, especially to children as local people has no ideas and reach of dental service.
4, Try to respect the local atmosphere when you do homestay. No late party or drunk. No drug uses please. Follow what local do and respect their timing of meals, sleep and other customs.
5, if you want to give local money, give it to older people, or donation to established organization in town. Many people don’t know how to spend that kind money and maybe some of them will go to drugs or harmful stuffs.