Volunteer tour guides show foreigners around capital city

One chilly Sunday morning, Nguyen Thu Phuong got an e-mail. She quickly went to the Old Quarter’s Hang Dao Street, where two foreign tourists were waiting for her.
Volunteer tour guides show foreigners around capital city

Phuong, 21, a student at Hanoi Foreign Trade University, is the head of the French section of Hanoi Free Tour Guides (HFTGs), a non-profit club founded and operated by university students, alumni and young people in 2010 to offer free tour guide services to foreign travellers when they visit Hanoi.

In 2014, the club won the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union award for best tour guide club of the year.

“I have worked as a volunteer here for one year. It is such an amazing chance to practise my French and meet French speakers. Besides, I can share Vietnamese culture with foreigners from around the world,” she said.

The tour guides can communicate in English, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, Korean and Spanish.

Phuong recalled bringing French tourists visiting Hanoi for the first time to Dong Xuan Market.

“Most of them enjoyed the food,” she said.

Another member, Nguyen Van Hao, took Connie Bunge and her husband to the Temple of Literature. Despite the clamorous sound of screaming and chatting from the crowd around, the 20-year-old student retained his brightest smile, while giving introductions carefully at every corner of the temple.

“He has taken us to see the Water Puppet Theatre, then West Lake and the Old Quarter. I felt like time went by very fast. Wherever we wished to go, he did not hesitate to guide us there. He started to learn German two years ago, and I know that it is very hard, though nothing compared to Vietnamese, but he is still able to pronounce correctly,” says Bunge, from Germany.

The enthusiasm and hospitality of these young, energetic people attracted many clients.

“It’s nice to have someone speaking your own language. When we go home we can tell all our friends about this organisation and the wonderful tour guides they have,” Bunge added.

For Pham Huong Quynh, 21, the Youth Union award was major encouragement.

“To me, every tour is an unforgettable memory. Once I took my customer to Long Bien Bridge, and it rained very hard, so we had to ask for a plastic bag from a passerby to cover one of my customers’ cameras. Eventually, we all walked home and got sick but I was very happy to receive their thank you email some days later. They said they admired me so much. That memory will never be forgotten,” said Quynh.

According to Dao Thanh Cong, head of the club, the reason why HFTGs has such a large number of customers is they have a huge amount of young, devoted volunteers who know many languages and are eager to work hard for free.

“We have the best volunteer team any company would want to have,” he said.-VNA/VietnamPlus.

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