The sight of electricity pylons might not be everyone's idea of a perfect view, but when you've never had power... well it's a different matter.

The faces of the ethnic Dao in Khau Tam light up at the mere mention of electricity. And when they see workmen busy erecting the pylons that will carry the power cables and eventually electricity to the tiny cluster of houses for the very first time in the hamlet's history, their grins are as wide as the horizon.

The power project should be completed by the end of this year.

"To have electricity has been our desire for years," says Chu Thi Hoa, 80. "We are so eager for the work to be finished so we can turn on our lights."

Khau Tam hamlet is one of the poorest parts of Kien Dai commune, which lies nestled in the mountains of Tuyen Quang province about 32km from the centre of Chiem Hoa District.

The commune has about 40 households, most of whom are ethnic Dao. The only access road is a windy dirt track, which is virtually impassable on wet days, according to Ma Phuc Dao, the district People's Committee chairman. Meanwhile, Dang Thi Hoa, who is also 80, hopes that being connected to the grid will help give the commune's children a better chance in life.

At the moment, householders have had to rely on mini-generators that are themselves powered by a water wheel in the local stream. They cost about 600,000 VND (28 USD), but generate only enough power for electric light bulbs, says Ban Van Man.

Man says the generators can't even power a black-and-white television set.

"My family has two second-hand televisions, which cost us 30,000 VND – 40,000 VND (about 2 USD) each," said Dang Van Vy, 40. "When we are connected to the grid, the first thing I will do is turn on the TVs. And if they don't work I will have them fixed," Vy says.

"The next thing I will do is buy some household electrical appliances, such as a fan and a rice cooker," says Dang Thi Tam, another ethnic Dao.

Chu Van Sang, 16, who dropped out of school two years ago, has only ever seen one film, and that was China-made Tay Du Ky (Jouney to the West). "I can't wait to watch more films," he says, bearably able to contain his enthusiasm.

The nearby village of Na Kha is also scheduled to be connected to the national grid. Local resident Dang Thi Tien says she never imagines that her village will one day have electricity. "My dream is going to turn into reality, unbelievable," Tien says.

Tempering their enthusiasm however is the thought of having to pay monthly electricity bills. Ninh Thi Mai, an ethnic Cao Lan, relocated to the village less than a decade ago. She was completely unaware that poor households are entitled to receive Government support of 30,000 VND (1.5 USD) per month towards the cost of their electricity bill.

Meanwhile, Ma Van Thi, an ethnic Tay living in Khun Cuc Village , says his village was connected to the power grid 10 years ago. He says it completely transformed life in the village. "We don't live in the dark any more." Thi says, beaming.

Dang Thi Yen, aged eight, lives in the centre of the district. She says she can't imagine what life will be like without electricity – no TV, no rice cooker, no fan. She says it will be intolerable without these basic necessities.

Up to 93 percent of the villages in the district are now connected to the power grid, according to Dao. In Kien Dai Commune, which lags behind other communes in the province in terms of power, five out of 13 villages have yet to be connected to the national grid, according to chairman Hoang Van Man.

"Hopefully, the electricity project will be completed by the end of this year," he says with a smile./.