ABOUT CAN MANH HUNG AND EDUCATIONAL TRAVEL
There is nobody in Hanoi better than Mr. Can Manh Hung to provide travelers with a better learning experience in the northern mountains.
He is university-trained in anthropology, which affords him a deeper understanding of ethnic groups, their customs, their values and their lives. While many have visited the ethnic minority groups in the mountains, Hung has lived among them. He has deepened his understanding of the unique cultures their over numerous trips in the course of 20 years as collector and dealer in ethnic minority artifacts. He understands the objects, and can put them in the broader context of the lives that they live and the beliefs that have helped them survive centuries of difficult times.
He is also a photographer of note. His photos convey an empathy with the people. Looking at the mountains and their cultures with the “artist’s eye” adds another dimension to his own understanding of mountain life. His respect and affection for the people suffuses every image.
He brings these various advantages to his work with travelers, assuring a trip that is more than a visit, but a true exercise in “deeper learning”.
The rice-growing terraces of Sapa are lovely, but how many visitors know how long they have been there, how are they maintained, how do they compare to “dry” rice cultivation?
The costumes clearly identify each group, but few learn how they came to be interspersed, how they get along, at what levels do they interact and at what ways do they stay apart?
Mobile phones and TV have arrived in the mountains. How has this changed people’s live, people’s expectations, people’s fears?
Living in isolated villages is clearly seems to be very hard work. Just how hard is it? Do the people understand how different their life is from that of city-dwellers?
What are the compensating advantages of that way of life? Do they want to move to somewhere else? Do they want their children to move somewhere else – and/or marry someone else?
Learning the answers to questions like these, often from the people themselves, elevates “sight-seeing” to something else – an adventure in learning, the gaining of empathy. That is why people choose to travel with Can Manh Hung. It is a very wise choice.
Mark Rapoport, MD MPH
Collector, gallerist and long-time resident of Hanoi wroter
November 4, 2013