On the 30th of April, 2015, we were very excited to serve a group of ten seniors travelers from the Netherlands and Belgium. They participated on “Kim Long longevity secrets“, a full day slow travel tour focused on Hue culture and ancient garden houses. Alongside with our dedicated guide, Mr. John G. Kleinen an expert on Vietnam culture would be the tour leader of the group. Let’s find out how seniors would enjoy slow travel and praise it as “A blessing for tourism of Hue”.
What can help senior enjoy slow travel at best?
The company of expert and caring guides
As you may have known, Mr.John G Kleinen, the respectful Tour Leader is “is an anthropologist and historian with a PhD from the University of Amsterdam (UvA)… His current research interests include the history of Vietnam, the institutional dynamics of French colonial expansion, and theory and practice of visual anthropology.”
He is the (co-)author or (co-)editor of a dozen of books, related to Vietnam. We may name a few as “Around Hoan Kiem Lake and Beyond” (Dzao quanh Ho Guom), “Towards a Maritime History of Vietnam: Seventeenth-century Vietnamese-Dutch confrontations“, “Facing the Future, Reviving the Past. A study of Social Change in a Northern Vietnamese Village“, “Vietnamese Society in Transition. The daily politics of reform and change“.
Indeed, Mr.Kleinen is an expert on Vietnam studies. His expertise are very much related to the theme of Slow Travel Hue’s tours. We are all about Vietnamese village life, social transitions and culture. Moreover, he can speak Vietnamese quite well. This will be a great help to bridge the contact with local hosts.
In our concept, the tour guide is not only capable of delivering information but also connecting people emotionally by storytelling. We believe Mr.Kleinen will facilitate such processes and give everyone sufficient time and space to enjoy this cultural journey.
Travel at a leisure pace with multiple stops
As always, it took us time to prepare and organise carefully all the service and activities suiting seniors travellers. Our guide must pay best attention to all groups members and ensure they feel warmly welcome and safe. Due to hot weather in April, Mr.Kleinen was a bit worried about the tour length. He expressed that he wanted the group to travel fast and return to the hotel early to take a rest. However, after arriving at Kim Long luxuriant village, he felt reassured that the tour would be something worthwhile.
Normally for a full day tour to Kim Long village, guests will use bicycle and cycle at leisure pace for maximum 17km on flat pace. As this is a senior travellers group, we arrange for all to travel with chauffeured rickshaw “cyclo” or “xich lo” in Vietnamese. This is a very eco-friendly means of transport and it can access all the path as bicycle. The cyclo rides pass rice field, green lanes, traditional villages. Guests sit comfortably, feel totally safe and connected with the surrounded nature. They can smile, trade hello with local people. Taking photographs is very handy too.
Why slow travel is a blessing for tourism in Hue
Opportunities to connect people and sharing
This tour evoked a different feeling, and the travelers naturally took time to relax. After some encounters, they would prefer resisting against all rush.
Firstly, the group met the descendant of a formerly Minister of Rituals and Ceremony under the Nguyen dynasty. She is an 90 year old lady, with warm heart and cheerful smile. She lived with her niece as care taker of ancestral heritage house, a truly traditional Garden House of Hue. Through her sharing and with guide explanation, the travelers understood more about the traditional art of living, the ancient beam house architecture and the secrets of healing garden.
After some cheerful tea and talk, the group continued browsing Kim Long village, by riding on the cyclo, along vegetable farm, rice field and bamboo shaded lanes.
Stop by a quiet river, they met an elderly gentleman with white waiting in front of a baroque styled temple. He is the grand grand son and care taker of a majestic Mandarin mausoleum. At this structure, the travelers learn about the importance of rituals, worshipping the dead and the ancestors. Additionally, we showed the inherited artefacts of mandarin life, old photos to support a best visual effect. Gradually, they stepped out of a classic tourist trails to engage in an in-depth “journey back and journey within”.
Around the ancient villages, the group had various chances to join hands in making local crafts. All is really slow, enjoyable and entertaining
Family styled home meal with traditional food and eating culture
Not like any other tours, our guests don’t need to rush on a bus to go to tourist restaurant for lunch. For Slow Travel Hue tours, dining is part of the immersive travel experience. Home dining or home hosted meal is the best part for guests to gain authentic experience.
By noon, the group call in an ancient house in Kim Long village. They happily help a hand in the kitchen to prepare some traditional Hue dishes. The menu typically promotes Hue traditional family meal with fig salad served with rice crackers, braised fixed in clay pot, deep fried stuffed tofu… and lotus seed sweet soup as dessert. The table is nicely set in the verandah overlooking a florist garden with ornamental plants and orchid. Who would imagine the seniors travelers from other half of the world are now enjoying an exclusive lunch with serenity with a local family in Vietnam ancient capital.
After a bit rest and a special herbal foot bath soaking, the group gratefully said farewell to the host family. On the way back, they indulged in a beautiful restored garden house. Here, the topic focuses on the entertainment habits of the aristocrat class in the old days. After an enriching cultural talk, the guests settled in an nostalgic tea house to enjoy afternoon tea with Hue food and cakes.
Seniors enjoy slow travel as it is meaningful for all
Upon return, all the guests thanked enchantedly for for an amazing experience. They had the privileges to enjoy slow travel with expert guides. They connected with interesting people at leisure pace. The food and the dining experience were a great experience. Mr.Christinan PEETERS appreciated the highlights as “Innovative, non-commercial touring. Contact with the local people. The guide is very attentive to the members of the group. Cultural and ecological aspects”.
Mr. John G Kleinen rewarded us with encouraging words that reflected perfectly all the passion. “The tour is a BLESSING for tourism of Hue city and should be promoted as an example. Entertaining and enjoyable!”.