Leaving it to the pros
The next morning, it was the chefs’ turn to put on a show for the locals, presenting big platters of small toasts, topped with typical western fare: pate, an egg and mayo mixture and chopped tomatoes. I loved watching each face as it tried something new. Some wrinkled in disgust, but most liked what they tried.
Even the village elders with their teeth blackened from years of chewing betel leaves, cautiously sampled the titbits.
Soon after, our bags were packed and we were headed home.
The woman in charge of tourism for the area, Him Bui, explained that westerners first arrived in large numbers in 2007 to study animals and teach the locals tourism skills. The village now has a cement road and a good school, and some homes have electricity.
Even with the improvements, they’re managing to hang onto their local culture. But for how long? I noticed plenty of western clothing – and also that the children could do a mean dance to “Gangnam Style.”
My advice? Go soon before the local traditions have faded, while you can still feel a bit like Marco Polo exploring a new world.
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This is the kind of trip that Sens Asia Travel does well, an experiential trip designed to reawaken the senses, introducing travelers to new flavours, sights and sounds throughout Asia.
The company is quite conscious of the experiences it develops, working hard to find the balance between modifying a village for tourist comforts and making sure it doesn’t lose the very culture people come to experience.