Walk leader: Bùi Gia Bảo
Text by: Chris Winter
On a world-tour with my family, I wanted to help organize a Jane’s Walk wherever we were, and that happened to be Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Finding a host and walk leader was a challenge. I found Ho Chi Minh Free Tours online, an organization where students learning English give free walking tours of the city. Bảo was an amazing, energetic walk leader, and as a university economics student he gave us insights into the hopes and aspirations of the next generation in Vietnam. A promising start for the first Jane’s Walk in Vietnam.
Covering history, culture, food and local markets, the tour highlight was the Reunification Palace, with its classic 1960’s architecture, furniture, war bunker, and relics of the “American War.”
Trở thành một hướng dẫn viên tình nguyện cho Ho Chi Minh Free Tours đã đem lại cho tôi rất nhiều kỷ niệm đáng nhớ. Tôi đã gặp gỡ nhiều người bạn mới từ khắp nơi trên thế giới, có cơ hội giới thiệu với họ về đất nước của mình và đặc biệt, tôi đã có được cơ duyên tham gia cuộc đi bộ Jane’s Walk đầu tiên ở Việt Nam. Jane’s Walk đã thật sự gây cho tôi ấn tượng mạnh mẽ với ý tưởng những người bạn xa lạ cùng nhau gặp gỡ, đi bộ và khám phá nét đẹp trong văn hóa, con người của một địa danh. Chúng tôi đã có một buổi đi bộ tuyệt vời, mọi người cùng chia sẻ và học hỏi lẫn nhau về lịch sử và những nét đặc trưng của vùng đất Sài Gòn. Xin cảm ơn Jane’s Walk vì những kỷ niệm khó quên ấy.
Becoming a tour guide at Ho Chi Minh Free Tours has given me many things. I have met many people from other countries, had a chance to introduce them to my country and had the honor of leading the first Jane’s Walk in Vietnam. The idea that different people who never met each other before can have a walk together and explore the local culture really impressed me when I first heard about it. We had a wonderful time sharing and learning the history and the specialties of Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks, Jane’s Walk, for such a memorable day.
One of the most meaningful moments for Bao was when another couple overheard us talking and asked if they could join the tour. Jane’s Walk is contagious.
For me, the memorable parts of the tour were:
- The heat: we started early, but by 10 a.m. we were all sweating in the 30°C heat.
- Bao’s energy: Bao had such passion in talking about the architecture and history of Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam. But more than just the past, we were listening to the expression of hope for the future.
The major challenge we faced, with only a few days to organize the tour, was promotion. Walking tours in Vietnam are aimed at tourists, not residents. Our walk was a joint effort with Ho Chi Minh Free Tours and the people who attended were mostly from a Facebook group called Families on the Move. There were three families in Ho Chi Minh City at the time, and they all came on the walk along with a couple of local friends. Looking ahead, the challenge would be to move beyond a dialogue with tourists to the community dialogue that makes Jane’s Walk so exciting.