Call of the Tay Giang’s Jungle

Update: 16:39 | 24/07/2020
TGVN. One day in the middle of July, our group comprised of nearly 40 staffs, reporters and employees of The World & Vietnam Report rambled under the harsh summer sunlight in the Central region of Vietnam to Tr’lee hamlet, A Tieng commune, mountainous Tay Giang district, Quang Nam province.
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call of the tay giangs jungle
Path to Tr’lee hamlet. (Photo: Trung Hieu)

Our car ran smoothly on the mountainous roads with continuous tortuous bends. In spite of being rather tired, we were very excited and eager to meet Co Tu ethnic group.

Our group was accompanied by the tour guides Mai Kim Huyen and Le Tan Chinh, photographer Dang Ngoc Hau and cameraman Ngo Van Ly of Tuan Thi Joint Stock Company. All of them were very young and enthusiastic.

After checking in the Tay Giang Guesthouse in the center of A Tieng commune, we eagerly got on our car to come to Tr’lee hamlet that is about 6km apart.

Making Tay Giang a second Sa Pa

Tay Giang which is a mountainous district located in the Northwest of Quang Nam province, was established on 25/12/2003 based on the fact that Hien district was separated into Dong Giang and Tay Giang districts.

call of the tay giangs jungle
Tourists in front of Guol house. (Photo: Trung Hieu)

Tay Giang is 190km far from Tam Ky city, 150km far from Da Nang city to the West. This district is bounded by Dong Giang district in the East, Laos in the West, Nam Giang district in the South and A Luoi district (Thua Thien Hue province) in the North. At the altitude of 1,000m from the sea level, the climate in Tay Giang is cool and cold at night. An outstanding destination in Tay Giang is Que Peak and cultural characteristics of Co Tu ethnic group are still preserved without being mixed with the culture of other ethnic ones.

Tay Giang district has over 20,000 people (with Co Tu ethnic group making up 95%), living dispersedly in stream and jungle areas. The reason for such distribution is that the local people live mainly on mountains and forests where they can plant farm and catch aquatic animals to serve daily life. Economic life of the local people is still underdeveloped. Therefore, Tuan Thi Joint Stock Company expects to be a pioneer with the mission of “Economic development in the border area via tourism service” in order to make Tay Giang an attractive tourism destination for tourists and investors as well. The Company aims at “making Tay Giang a second Sa Pa in Vietnam in all aspects”, thereby enabling Tay Giang to experience economic, cultural and social development, especially create more jobs and increase income for the people to improve their life.

call of the tay giangs jungle
Giving gifts to local people. (Photo: Trung Hieu)

Clean local products

Innocent eyes of Co Tu children looked at us attentively when our car slowly entered the parking lot near the main yard of the hamlet. In front of the yard, there is Guol house - traditional community house of Co Tu people.

Tr’Lee hamlet has 28 households with 126 people of Co Tu ethnic group. Their life still faces many difficulties and isolation from outside world. They have no telephone network. Their main livelihood is self-sufficient and dependent on forest resources. Therefore, Tuan Thi Company introduced the Tay Giang charity tour product in order to provide better living conditions for Tr’Lee people thanks to tourist experience services in the hamlet such as cooking, selling local products, camping and traditional dance.

Tourists are welcomed by strong and moving gong sound of the boy band in red and black brocade clothes. In front of Guol house, local people place local products such as pineapple, banana, boiled cassava dipped in chilly sesame and tea water to invite tourists.

After first moments, many tourists are eager to seek local products. At the afternoon markets, tourists can find many local products made by local people such as vegetables, fruits, wild honey, Curculigo orchioides, dried Docynia indica and Gynochthodes officinalis. Although these products can be found in urban areas, tourists prefer to buy them in this place because of clean and safe origin and absence of pesticide or plant chemicals.

call of the tay giangs jungle
Taking a group photo for memory. (Photo: Trung Hieu)

Young people in our group followed local women to catch fish in stream which is not very far. The women walked very quickly because they were familiar with this work whereas we crossed the stream while telling each other to avoid slippery big rocks. We could get through difficult sections thanks to tour guides.

Tay Giang has many riverhead streams, some of them are occupied and used by local people for life activities. Therefore, stream water is polluted to some extent. The stream in Tr’Lee hamlet is the only riverhead stream without inhabitants in the upstream. Hence, the water in this stream can keep its inherent purity. The commune installed clean water pipeline from the riverhead to the hamlet. Legend has it that if you come to bathe in this stream, you will be very lucky. Infertile couples will have babies after they come to bathe in this stream. This stream accommodates small fishes living in rock gaps. In order to catch them, you must use rackets to drive them into rock gaps or you can catch them by hand. After a while, the women caught a lot of fishes.

After catching fish, young people in our group played with water and took check-in photos very cheerfully. Local children swam and dived in cool blue water.

Difficult to say goodbye

When the afternoon sun faded away, the atmosphere become cooler, we returned to the main yard of the hamlet while waiting for the program of giving gifts to Tr’Lee people.

Mr. Nguyen Van Trung, Editor-in-chief of The World & Vietnam Report, on behalf of our group, gave gifts to children and local people. Thankful smiles of women and innocent eyes of local children were beautiful and unforgettable images for me.

When the darkness came, it was the most important event - art performance and camping fire night. The party table was full of traditional dishes of Co Tu people: cassava soup, toasted meat, toasted fish in bamboo pipe, bamboo sprout, croissants and rice cooked in bamboo pipe.

The big fire blazed up vigorously in cheers. The dance company with tens of burly boys wearing loin-cloth and brocade, carrying shield in their left hands and lance or knife in their right hands, charming girls in traditional Co Tu dress moved to the front yard in the noisy and melodious music.

call of the tay giangs jungle
Tung Tung Ya Yá dance. (Photo: Trung Hieu)

They performed Tung Tung and Ya Yá dance (God offering dance). Tour guide Kim Huyen said that in the past, traditionally, such dance was performed once a year. This dance is of profound spiritual significance of Co Tu people and outstanding folklore dance with high art and cultural value. Tung Tung, in Co Tu language, means rising vigorously. It is for strong men. Ya Yá, in Co Tu language, means straight line. This dance is for women. It signifies gratefulness to the God. Two hands turn upward are like welcoming cheerfully. Eyes look straightforward, mouths smile gently and gracefully with love. Women and men perform separately and then they dance together in the exciting applause of audience.

All games come to an end. Twittering calls of children, loath fists of Tr’lee people seemed to cling to us. We found too difficult to say goodbye to each other in the cold night.

On my way back home, I thought that recently, Tay Giang has been known for spontaneous tourism activities and emerging homestay houses. It can be said that Tay Giang now experiences gradual growth and everyone from all corners will come here to conquer imposing mountains and forests.

Impressive Tay Giang! See you again!

call of the tay giangs jungle
Young men taking photos for memory. (Photo: Dang Ngoc Hau)
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