Go to Top

Ta Phin: A Hard Life, Easy to Live


Spin a globe, toss a coin, follow a friend’s recommendation, revisit a favourite place or embark on the path less traveled. Picking a holiday destination is a choice as wide as the world.

Choosing a path off the tourist map ‘destination remote’ lead us (Erin and Lynden) to the mountain community of Ta Phin, home of the Red Dao people in northern Vietnam. The result of our stay with a family in Ta Phin is recorded in ‘Ta Phin: A Hard Life, Easy to Live’.

Life for the Red Dao people in the rugged mountains of northern Vietnam is hard. Families scrape a subsistence living from fields terraced into the mountain sides. Buffalos plough the fields. Planting and harvesting is done by hand. Though arduous their lives are rich in community and culture.

Walking through the village along narrow dirt paths it is not hard to frame a view that is ageless; women in traditional indigo dyed and intricately embroidered clothes sit around fires talking and sewing, men fashion hide and bamboo drums for sale, and goats and pigs free range about.

Turn a corner and the twenty first century will almost skittle you as teenager with a quiff of blonde highlights roars past on a motor bike.

‘Ta Phin: A Hard Life, Easy to Live’ looks at the collision of modern and traditional cultures that is life in the village and the way the women of Ta Phin have banded together to take control of how tourism impacts on their culture. Through inviting travelers into the community to stay in their homes and share the experience of life in the village the women hope to retain their culture whilst forging a brighter future for their children.

Home stay host Mrs Ly Man May says "When we have more and more tourists our standard of living will be higher so there is a chance for children to go to school and study otherwise they have to stay at home and help with the farm work to bring income for the family."

The women of Ta Phin hope that travelers staying in their homes will gain a deeper understanding of the Red Dao culture while the young people of Ta Phin will value of their culture as they navigate a path between the two worlds of tradition and modernity.

‘Ta Phin: A Hard Life, Easy to Live’ By Erin McCuskey & Lynden Baxter

See image slideshow from flickr:

This is the last of our series of the women of Ta Phin.

We would like to thank the women of TaPhin (please visit them soon), Footprint Vietnam (Son and the team can help you, they helped us) and our darling friend Julian who enabled this project.

Visit the other items in the series here:

Mrs Ly May Chan

Ly Lo May

Mrs Ly Man May

Ly Ta May

Mrs Ly Ta May King

Ta Phin: A Hard Life, Easy to Live

We thought we would tell the women in Ta Phin what we were up to:

, , , ,

4 Responses to "Ta Phin: A Hard Life, Easy to Live"

  • Caz Filmer
    July 26, 2013 - 1:29 am Reply

    Again – so eye opening. Beautiful work guys.

  • Sapa O'Chau
    January 17, 2014 - 9:55 am Reply

    Great movie – we love Ta Phin and the Red Dao Homestays:D

  • Vivian
    May 22, 2014 - 2:18 am Reply

    Great work you guys. It makes me love Taphin more than ever. Thanks you so so much!:D

  • Erin
    May 22, 2014 - 2:22 am Reply

    Thanks Vivian, that’s great praise coming from you, given all the fabulous work you have done in TaPhin… thanks Erin

Leave a Reply