After we finished our lunch in the village of Lao Chai, we continued our trek to the village of Tavan, which was located about 3 km away from Lao Chai, also in the valley near Sapa, Vietnam. The walk between the two villages was pretty flat; we spent the time chatting with our guide May talking about her life experience living in the nearby village and about the local culture.
When we arrived in Tavan, we stopped at a local elementary school, where at the schoolyard there was a dance performance by the students shown for the tourists who came to visit. It was pretty cute to see these little kids — mostly between 5 and 8 years old, performing the coreographed dance to the tune of music playing on a boombox. Their teacher was watching them performing. Many of the tourists including myself got closer to the performing kids so we could take photos of them during the performance.
We stayed there for a little bit to watch the performance, then continued our trek. One thing interesting however was May’s comments to us as we left the school. She said that the school was opened by the Vietnamese government to educate the local children, mostly from the minority tribes (you could tell the government influence as there was a picture of Ho Chi Minh prominently on display at the front of the school). While undoubtedly the children received education, with the increasing popularity of tourism coming to the area, now the teachers tried to charm the visitors with the performances by the children to encourage the visitors to give donation to the school to help the poor children. This is well intentioned, but at times there are occasions when it seemed that in some schools the money donated never actually made it to the children, but instead were taken by the teachers. When you have teachers in remote area like this with likely pretty low salary, it’s not surprising that such corruption may happen. A better way to donate to the local community was by bringing in some school supplies that the students could use.
The photo below was taken during the performance by the school children. You can see them performing while their teacher was watching on the side, and the tourists were watching from the background.