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In Vietnam, middle-aged tour guides keep tourists returning with their vivacity

Sunday, April 12, 2015, 15:02 GMT+7
In Vietnam, middle-aged tour guides keep tourists returning with their vivacity
Tourists, including foreigners, on board a boat off Nha Trang City, the capital of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, are entranced by a "home-made" music performance and exchange by Tran Ngoc Muoi (right, in orange shirt), 58, and 56-year-old Vo Lang (left, in orange shirt).

Two tour guides in their late 50s have been a ‘sensation’ in the eyes of tourists to Nha Trang City, located in central Vietnam, in the past few years for all the amusement and relaxation that they bring.

Several tourists have returned to Vietnam and Nha Trang in particular mostly to see these two boisterous guides again.

The pair are Tran Ngoc Muoi, 58, and Vo Lang, 56, also known as Ba.

According to Ho Van Tin, director of Nha Trang Tourism Co., a local travel firm, Muoi and Lang are the oldest guides of the company and the city.

The gorgeous coastal city is the capital of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.

During a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter’s recent trip to Nha Trang, her boat stopped for lunch next to place where Muoi and Lang docked their vessel.

The passengers on board the two’s boat had finished lunch by then and were being pampered with a ‘home-made’ music performance and exchange.

One of the quinquagenarian pair was seen cracking jokes and cheering up the atmosphere on a speaker in fluent English, while the other was swinging to South Korean rapper PSY's hit “Gangnam Style,” which triggered a global fever some years ago, amidst the Asian and European tourists’ thunderous applause.

Muoi and Lang were also playing music to further charge up the atmosphere on their home-made drums, which are innovatively made from halved casks, pots and pot lids.

“There’s nothing out of the ordinary about conventional musical instruments used in bars and onstage. Our home-made instruments are much more attention-grabbing,” Lang explained.

The pair’s band is made up of sous-chefs and cake specialists.

Muoi began his performance with a hallmark Vietnamese folk song titled “Trong Com” (tom-tom drum) before asking groups of tourists from different countries to take the stage and perform their own country’s iconic songs.

He also crooned the songs representative of the tourists’ countries, including modern hits, and spurred tourists to sing along and sway to the music.

“Muoi and Lang are the most intriguing tour guides I’ve ever met. They always burst with energy and know how to capture our attention,” commented Jessica, an Australian tourist on board.

Such ‘multinational’ music performances and exchanges came into being four years ago.

“Most tourists want a 15-minute break from their full lunch before they have a bath or swim. So we came up with holding such music performances and exchanges both to help tourists kill time and build rapport with them,” Muoi explained.

He added that some eight or nine songs each time would do to charge up the ambiance, relieve tourists of their fullness, and ready them for a refreshing bath.

Tourism is about getting tourists to smile     Ba worked as a chef for a tourism company.

He learned fragmentary English to communicate with tourists when they visited his kitchen to find out more about his dishes.    The man then worked as a guide assistant and was promoted to the position of a main tour guide after some five years.

Meanwhile, Muoi was an air traffic controller prior to 1975, when the country freed itself from the American rule.

In 1994, he tried his luck by applying for a job in selling tour tickets and making tour contracts at a tourism company.   

Impressed by his excellent English command, several tourists suggested he accompany them during their tours.

The man has kept improving his English skills until now.

Muoi and Lang always wear a beaming smile on their faces during work.

“Tourists really want some fun and relaxation in return for the money they spend on their tours. It’s imperative that those working in the tourist sector wear constant smiles and be hospitable and caring. It’s sheer contentment that before parting, tourists give us hugs and even kisses on the cheek, and ask for our Facebook and email addresses,” Lang said.

An Australian couple, who have visited Nha Trang four times, strongly recommended their friends trace down the two vivacious guides during their trips to the city.

An American scriptwriter returned to the city twice just because of his bond with one of the two men.

The tourists’ adoration for these two guides is really good news at a time when Vietnam suffered the tenth straight monthly plunge in the number of international tourists in March, the latest in a string of worrisome issues hitting the tourist sector that takes great pride in its numerous natural landscapes and heavenly beaches.

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