Focus

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A study tour to remember

The One Pillar Pagoda is a historic and iconic Buddhist temple in Hanoi.

The One Pillar Pagoda is a historic and iconic Buddhist temple in Hanoi.

Tourism management students plan trip to Hanoi as part of their fifth semester assignment

TRAVELLING can be so much fun especially if you do not have to do anything.

But what if you have to plan and organise a trip for a group?

It can be a mammoth task, especially when visiting a place one has not been to before. There is where the adventure begins!

That was exactly what the students from Taylor’s University’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts had to do.

Nine Malaysian and two Maldivian Diploma in Tourism Management students were tasked to organise and plan a tour package from start to end.

Department of Tourism, Events and Recreation, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts lecturer Lee Wei Mei said the task was part of their fifth semester assignment.

Some of the students helping the boat man to row as it is a long ride around Trang An Grottoes.
Some of the students helping the boat man to row as it is a long ride around Trang An Grottoes.

“Students had to propose and select a destination, plan the tour duration and departure date.

“They also had to plan the itinerary, contact suppliers for quotations, followed by selecting the right tour operator, working within the given budget of RM1,400 per person and finally booking and making a contract with the supplier.

“The students chose Hanoi, Vietnam, for the study tour over Cambodia, Philippines and Thailand.

“The destination was selected because of several factors including weather, budget, timing and popularity,’’ Lee said.

“Hanoi is the fourth most visited destination in the region and the autumn season is a pleasant time to visit,’’ she added.

The Tourism Management Diploma is a two-year course and the learning modules include travel management, tour operations, business management and conducting the tour and guests experience.

(From left) Thein and Khadheeja interviewing Rodmell.
(From left) Thein and Khadheeja interviewing Rodmell.

So during the tour, the students also took turns to play tour guide which contributed 3% to the marks for the exam.

These students also had to observe local tour guide Da Minh Thiep, who preferred to be called Hiphop, at work and learn from him.

The five-day tour kicked off with a visit to the Hoan Kiem Lake and the Hanoi Old Quarter.

The lake is located in the historical centre of the city and is one of the major scenic spots.

The second day began early with a trip to Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace and the Ho Chin Minh Museum.

After lunch, the group visited the One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple. It is also one of Hanoi’s iconic temples.

The students posing in front of a statue of Ho Chi Minh at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.
The students posing in front of a statue of Ho Chi Minh at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.

Students Justine Ngu Wee Chee and Chai Yun Jiet took on the role of tour guides for the day. Although it was Ngu’s first time travelling abroad, he managed the task well.

“This is an eye-opening experience for me. I am an introvert by nature, but I have learnt to speak up more in the course of my study.

“In tourism, it is a requirement to communicate and build relationships and this experience has trained me to talk and overcome my shyness.

“The activities in the course required group work and when working in a team, communication is important,’’ Ngu said.

From his course assignment, he said he learnt that team work was what made the things efficient.

Next, we visited the Temple of Literature and finally the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.

Students looking at some of the unique vegetables sold at the Old Quarter during the sightseeing tour.
Students looking at some of the unique vegetables sold at the Old Quarter.

This was an interesting place where one could learn about Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups.

On the third day, the students broke into groups and spent the morning walking in the streets of city to interview a few tourists.

One of the groups, comprising Chai, Florence Thein Wai Mei and Khadheeja Sajaya Ahmed, approached tourist Amy Rodmell, 24.

The Londoner said people in Hanoi were very friendly and she was glad she chose Vietnam as one of her holiday destinations.

“The country is safe and it is easy to walk around the city.

“There is a great sense of community here and I am satisfied with my choice. I just love it here,” said Rodmell, who was travelling solo.

Taylors University Diploma in Tourism Management students looking at a board showcasing the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnology.
A board showcasing the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnology.

After the groups completed their interviews, they returned to the hotel to prepare for the visit to the British University Vietnam (BUV) as part of a cultural exchange programme.

BVU is part of the Taylor’s Education Group and the programme was aimed at giving students the opportunity to get to know their counterparts in Hanoi.

Both parties gave short presentations about the tourist attractions in their respective countries.

The nine BA (Hons) in Tourism Management students taught the Taylor’s University students a little Vietnamese including common phrases while the Malaysian group taught them some Malay phrases in return.

All the students clearly enjoyed the exchange and had fun during the session. They even made plans to go out together that night.

Before the visit ended Lee presented a souvenir to BVU’s Bachelor (Hons) Tourism management programme leader and lecturer Maren Viol.

Tour guides for the day Ngu (second right) and Chai briefing the group before the visit to the Ho Chi Minh Presidential Palace.
Tour guides for the day Ngu (second right) and Chai briefing the group before the visit to the Ho Chi Minh Presidential Palace.

Thein, a seasoned traveller from Malacca, said the trip was a success.

“I think my teammates have done a good job in planning and organising the trip to Hanoi.

“Usually, tour group participants find themselves rushing from one place to the other and there is a schedule to follow.

“But with this tour, there was a good balance,’’ said Thein who has visited Australia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

While she prefers the free and easy trips with family, she now understands what a tour requires.

She said she selected this course because she liked to travel and hoped to join her family business one day. Her father is a boat manufacturer while her mother operates a restaurant in Malacca.

From the top:Students getting onto small boats for the Trang An grottoes tour.The One Pillar Pagoda is a historic and iconic Buddhist temple in Hanoi.A board showcasing the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnology.Students looking at some of the unique vegetables sold at the Old Quarter.
Students getting onto small boats for the Trang An grottoes tour.

On the fourth day, we drove two hours out of the city towards Trang An Grottoes in Ninh Binh.

Before the tour, Hiphop took us to a restaurant nearby that served home-cooked Vietnamese food and it was one of the best meals we had.

We were served fried sweet corn, steamed prawns, rice crackers and a seafood salad. It was simple, fresh and simply delicious.

The satisfying meal was followed by a relaxing boat cruise. The students were taken on a quiet and scenic two-hour boat cave tour. This was a welcome break after the hustle and bustle of busy Hanoi. The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

After that we made our way back to the city. As we wanted to do some last-minute shopping, Hiphop obliged us and dropped us off in the Old Quarter.

The shops there close at 10pm so we had a good few hours to buy souvenirs for friends and family.

We were sad to leave Hanoi but it was a fun trip with good company and great food.

Tags / Keywords: Central Region , Taylor s University students trip to Hanoi

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