On your travels have you ever met youngsters who completely wowed you with their resourcefulness and admirable command of other languages? For Amy Hill it was a chance meeting with an impressive group of girls that remains one of her favourite travel experiences…
“There are many reasons to fall in love with Vietnam, but for me it was the people who sealed the deal. One particularly fond memory I have of my month long stay is during a trek I did in the hills of Sapa. Along the way we were joined by a charming group of young girls making their way home from a long day of selling their art and craft in the town centre. Their smiling faces and bright personalities were infectious and equally impressive was their ability to speak English.
They were so excited to meet us and immediately set about finding all there was to know about our group: “What’s you name?” “Where you from?” “What’s your family like?” And of course, “You buy from me?”
We soon learned the girls belonged to the people of the Black H’mong – an indigenous group who populate the northern regions of Vietnam. Our guide told us that as soon as they’re old enough to walk, the girls of the Black H’mong people make the six hour journey to the township in hope of selling their crafts to the steady flow of tourists who visit Sapa each day. Laden with intricately woven quilts, colourful beaded jewellery and musical trinkets made from copper, the girls canvas the streets all day in search of a sale.
We stopped by a creek for a breather with our new groupies. It was such a peaceful moment as each girl sat contently occupied with a separate task. Used to a life filled with so many demands and distractions, it was uplifting to glimpse into the uncomplicated lives of these hardworking little girls. There were many unanswered questions about whether there was an opportunity for these girls to go to school and I wondered what their future would hold, but then I was buoyed by the sense of confidence and pride amongst our young new friends. I knew then it would be very difficult to leave the beautiful and inspiring country that is Vietnam.”
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* photo by Julia Herperger – Intrepid Photography Competition