Av Nguyễn Chí Linh, reseledare i Vietnam
One day in autumn 2003 Năng phoned me and asked “Linh, are you free?” Could you work for us as local guide?” Năng used to be my English teacher before I studied at Faculty of English Language, Hà Nội University of Education. My friend was now tour leader at Läs och Res. I also worked with Danh (other tour leader in Vietnam) a couple of times till 2007 when Danh retired. Since then, I have been with Läs och Res.
I felt very nervous getting my first group. I worry how to organise, how to cope with participants, how to solve the circumstances and especially how to report to Läs och Res. In ordinary tourism companies the tour guide is just a contract worker who has to carry out written orders. When guests want some changes of the itinerary, the guide has to report to the company and wait for their decision… It is totally different from Läs och Res where the participants from are very independent and the guide is a member of the group, the helper, the organizer and the informer. The tour is always flexible, the guide will discuss with participant and do anything possible for the sake of travellers, and he or she will help customers to do the things that interest them. The purpose of Study and Travel is how to get satisfied customers …That philosophy really inspired me and made me love my job very much.
Over the years, Läs och Res has organised trekking tours to the untouched mountains in Vietnam where we met interesting people from a variety of minority groups. Those treks gave me a lot of unforgettable memories. I still remember a tour in October 2010 that Năng and me took from Vietnam to Laos. I have well prepared and planned before the tour started but we never know what will happen. With tourists from ordinary tourism companies any changes give big problem to the tourleader. Läs och Res welcomes taking advantage of new opportunities always being offered along a tour and their customers are imbued with this philosophy.
On that tour, we went up to Lai Châu province for trekking. We split into two small groups. I was in charge a group of seven travellers trekking to Pú Đao village where H’Mong people live. We have trekked 8 hours to our destination. It was Saturday and we were escorted and accompanied by minority people going to market. We arrived late afternoon and had to go through a security place guarded by some police. After checking our passports and ID card and asking our purpose of our visit, they let us continue, but kept passports and ID cards. On arrival in the village, we were chased by another two police on a motorbike (their faces were in red, they had drunk in the market…), they introduced they are the head of police in the commune; they stopped us and did not allow us to stay in the village. After one hour talking they could not give us any reason to prohibit us from staying over night in that village as we had all needed papers. So they let us go. When we came into the village to ask some families for overnight, no one dared to receive us even they really wanted. They said they were afraid of local police after we gone.
Now it was almost dark, so we had to walk back one and a half kilometere to the next village where we were warmly welcomed by H’Mong families. We all had a very nice time talking to many interesting villagers. They prepared food and we ate together, later many people in the village, curious hearing of the presence of a group of white people, came and were invited to join us for dinner (this is their habit). We were more than thirty people having. Only around 10 PM we went to bed, but many people still lingered, even some children sitting around to see how the white people sleep… they are so simple and beloved people…
There are many good memories and special lessons that I have achieved since I have work at Läs och Res. Thank you Christian, thank you Eric and Läs och Res to give me this chance to travel and study. Thank you for a wonderful philosophy and special way of organizing tours so that we can use chances of travelling to support local people and satisfy customers.