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 Ma Gia does tourism
In the mountainous district of Khanh Vinh (Khanh Hoa), in addition to Yang Bay waterfall and poetic and charming stops at the foot of Khanh Le Pass, tourists inside and outside the province are no stranger to ecotourism destinations of Ma Gia, an old Raglai farmer in Giang Ly commune. This is a quite unique tourist destination featured withthe mountain forest alternating with the artificial landscapes but its inherent wildness is still preserved.

A farming man does tourism

Leading us to the "resort", by the way of speaking on the first day of the spring, Ma Gia A (the so-called Ma Gia), an over-80-years-old elderly, the owner of the tourist spot, still trespassed agilely through the stone-filled road and the self-made bamboo bridges to lead us deeper. When kowning thatwe were journalists who had come here to inquire information and write articles, he laughed and said, "I have been appeared on the newspaper a lot, sothere is nothing else to say." Saying that, but Ma Gia was still happy, because in his opinions, the elderly often prefer to be complimented than criticized.

While recounting the time of starting a business as a "resort", his voice rose and fell as blended into the space of the mountains and forests. In the past, the elderly were Chairman of the People's Committee of Giang Ly commune. Every year in the dry season, communial people almost struggled due to the lack of water for growing crops. Detecting the full-of-water Lach stream in the riverhead, some provincial people and he seeked ways to bring water to the fields for the people. His family is crowded with children (12 people), so he choosed a more difficult place, right at the beginning of the Lach stream, resigned flat places to the people for rice, wheat and corn growing. When some of his friends visited here, observing the fresh stream with full shade of forest trees, they recommended him doing tourism. At that time, Ma Gia smiled and though that it was hardly to do so.

From retirement, wandering around with rice fields, wheat fields, Ma Gia had time to be close to nature, so he realized that this was an ideal place for the elderly to relax. From upstream to Giang Ly, the stream splits into 7 branches so it is called Lach stream. "Every day, from 6 am to dark, he followed each branch and rock embankment, put together flat places where possible to sit and rest. The elderly’s stream area was formed day by day that it was firstly known to communial people, and then more people in the district. Since 2004, the elderly have called for his children jointly to refurbish roads, build stalls, renovate landscapes, and tourist attractions also formed from there." Ma Gia said.

Without designers and machines, after 14 years of perseverance by hands, Ma Gia connected the forest space with the self-created landscape. “Many people laughed and asked why areso old but stillcompletely wrap up in building dams and creatingstilts at all time. Some of my childrenalso asked why not rent machines to do faster? But I firmly said no for fear of destroying the inherent space here. I only choose a place for people to rest, not to change the mountains and streams andinsist that only not destroying the forest trees can keep the beautiful stream.” Ma Gia shared.

From the first stilt, up to now, the Ma Gia’s tourist spot has had 32 small and large stalls along the Lach stream. All were done manually by Ma Gia and his children and made of rattan, bamboo and forest trees with a capacity of from 5-30 people per stall. The next are two hanging bridges spanning a small stream, a shady trail that is extendedby rows of original pebbles or the project of electricity generation that can provide electricity for 4 light bulbs ... all were self-learnt and self-made by thatsincere farmer.

The difference in Ma Gia’s tourist destination is the sound of the rock echoing through the mountains and forests. Taking advantage of the flow of the main stream, taking stones to form steps, using water pipes to bring water to the dipper, which is tied to the string system from the stream leading to the central house, so that when the water pours into the dipper and stretches the string, affecting the mother stone, then spreading to the remaining stone bars, creating the melodious sound. “This is how our grandparents used to beat wild animals. I studied and applied my way so that I can hear the lithophone soundof Raglai people every day and, at the same time, introduce the unique culture of myethnic group to everyone ”, Ma Giaproudly said.

Doing tourism for forest preservation

From the start of the business, Ma Gia does not collect everyone's ticket price. Visitors can comfortably bring food and drinks here to have fun. If lovivng, people will support the owner by buying the “Rượu cần”, souvenirs or chicken dishes, but it will not matter. In 2007, to have money to repair stalls serving customers, to a greater extent , coming here from in and outside the province, Ma Gia collected 20-50 thousand dong per each stall depending on the group size. In recent years, the number of tourists coming to Ma Gia’s tourist destination has reached hundreds thousands turns eachyear. The amount from ticket sales, in addition to paying salaries to employees, is used to invest in new stalls or regeneration of forest trees.

Recently, many investors have proposed to buy back Ma Gia’s tourist spots at high prices. The money if they gavewould be enough for him and his children to enjoy their old age but Ma Giarefused the proposals. "People will take the machines, destroy all the trees, not keep the wildness of the mountains, so I don't sell," he said firmly. On the way leading us to visit the tourist spot, where to see candy, plastic bags ... he picked up all. Occasionally, we encountered distorted little wooden boards "Keep clean streams", "Do not litter" that are attached to the most visible trees. Ma Gia shared that many visitors means that the amount of waste is not less. Therefore, out of 31 descendants, those who have completed the 12th grade have come up here to accompany him to serve the guests and especially to clean up the garbage.

For Ma Gia, tourism simply means the desire to keep the forest, like the Raglai people. Perhaps because of that, Gia’s tourist spot owns boldly neglected and friendly features, leaving an unforgettable impression in the hearts of tourists even if those arrived only once.

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