Cultural heritage travel helps preserve traditions

By Kieu Anh   December 5, 2020 | 05:00 am PT
Cultural heritage travel helps preserve traditions
Nguyen Huu Qua, one of just three people who are still pursuing the art of Dong Ho folk woodcut paintings in the eponymous craft village in Bac Ninh Province, draw and paint large paintings. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Tours to various heritage sites across Vietnam are attracting an increasing number of travelers, helping spread the spirit of cultural preservation.

A cultural heritage tour has recently been designed for participants of a historic conservation course to explore the northern city of Hai Phong. Hai Phong Opera House, historic and traditional spaces, along with local cuisine are introduced in great detail. Heritage specialists and scholars have also joined as course instructors.

"Each historic conservation course is a day tripper. It could be a journey to a site of historical significance by way of instructor recommendation. We all learn in practice to discover the hidden values in them and sometimes face the reality that they are not anything like in the books," film director Nguyen Hoang Diep, a course operator, said.

Course members are of all ages, from high school students to retirees. They agree that those idyllic times were not only fun but allowed them to reflect on their thoughts.

Another major event is a traditional music artist tour in the "Shape of Music" program operated by Domdom, a center of experimental music. In Ngang Noi, a "Quan Ho" folk singing village of northern Bac Ninh Province, the young get to experience the traditional atmosphere at social gatherings with "Quan Ho" singing. They do not only listen to the once-popular "calls and responses", betel-inviting lyrics, but can meet and have a conversation with artists during group meals.

Musician Kim Ngoc, creator of the tour, commented that there were always room for traditional art. "In Bac Ninh Province, I saw some families still preserve their folk melodies and lyric handed down from generation to generation," said.

She hopes several partipants could actually "live that moment." "Even talking to artists is an experience because they are culture bearers. Watching a performance is different to engaging in a conversation with performers," she explained.

Heritage travel comes in many shapes and forms. Friends of Vietnam Heritage/FVH, a group consisting of Vietnamese and foreigners, frequently offer mini-adventures to tourists and Vietnam heritage fans. They use Facebook to make appointments and take part in nearby trips to Dong Ho folk woodcut painting village in Bac Ninh, or to Van Phuc silk village in Hanoi.

Ngoc said: "The number of traditional artists is now almost nonexistent. Traditional music is being neglected on a grand scale. We would want to act as a bridge to connect the public to precious cultural and historic pursuits on the verge of slipping into oblivion."

Such pilgrimages should not be about the act of travelling alone but considered a necessary activity to raise awareness about cultural heritage.

"At first, I just wanted to equip myself with proper knowledge of heritage and its conservation process but I got hooked later. This is really exciting," Diep elaborated on the reasons why an outsider like her had decided to join the heritage course.

"I learned to love and cultivate my love for heritage. Finally, we aim to spread the knowledge, spread the love, spread the spirit of cultural heritage preservation in various ways," she said.

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