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Children stop tourists, beg for gifts in northern Vietnam

By Ma Lum   May 4, 2017 | 02:17 pm GMT+7

Drivers say the kids caught them off guard on a winding mountain pass.

Locals and travelers are warning one another about a group of small children in Ha Giang Province who often stop vehicles on a winding mountain pass to ask for gifts and candies.

They say the pratice is extremely dangerous for the children and everybody else, since going up and down Ma Li Peng Pass is already a stressful task for all drivers.

Linh Lu, a local, wrote to VnExpress: “I’m from Meo Vac District. The children stopped me once on this pass for gifts and I had to brake abruptly. My wife and kid were on the bike.”

Some pointed out it all started when a few tourists stopped and offered gifts to poor children a couple of years ago, when mountainous provinces emerged as new travel destinations.

“Tourists to the highlands should stop giving things to children," said Duong Pham, another reader. "Many children have quit school to wait by the streets and beg for gifts."

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Ma Li Peng Pass in Ha Giang Province is already a difficult road for many drivers. Photo by Hachi8

Chi Dung, a motorbike traveler, shared a video showing how he was stopped by the kids.

He said the children even threw stones at him thinking that he would take their gifts and candies away.

Many suggested travelers go to schools to give gifts to poor children instead of engaging in this risky practice.

In October last year, videos and images of tourists throwing gifts through bus windows onto children down the streets in Ha Giang Province sparked controversy.

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A picture, circulated on social media last year, shows tourists throw gifts through bus windows onto children in Ha Giang late last year. File photo

So far, some bus companies in Ha Giang have put up notices, calling passengers to stop doing so.

Ha Giang authorities have also made the same move. In a code of conduct for tourists, the province urged visitors to refrain from giving money or candies to children "because it encourages begging.”

Ha Giang is one of the poorest provinces in Vietnam. Its stunning scenery has pulled in many visitors recently, but most in the province live on farming.