Friday, July 21 2017

VietNamNews

For the love of the forests

Update: July, 09/2017 - 09:00
Tourists cook soup with edible wild plants. VNS Photo Huỳnh Thủy

Viet Nam News

One of life’s greatest pleasures is to enjoy your job.

Hoàng Tuấn Vũ has this pleasure in his life as a forest guide.

He loves the forests of the central highlands so much.

He knows the forests well and after many adventures, he also knows how to survive in them.

by Huỳnh Thủy

Kar feels completely at home in the forest.

“I have spent more time in the forest than at home, that’s why I look different,” he says, smiling.

At the young age of 32, Kar, whose real name is Hoàng Tuấn Vũ, stands out in a crowd with his sunburnt curly hair and dark skin and sturdy physique.

Kar might be the only trekking tour guide in the Central Highlands region, but this is more than a job for him. His work is an expression of his love for forests, and he wants to inspire others to join hands and preserve them.

Kar was born in the central province of Hà Tĩnh. He moved to live in Ea Kar District in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk when he was six after his parents sought new career opportunities there. The peaceful life, surrounded by vast forests and mountains, nurtured his passionate love for the forest.

After graduating from high school, he decided to study tourism at Duy Tân University so that he could realise his dream of travelling to different places.

As a student, Kar visited many places in Việt Nam, including Đà Nẵng, Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Huế, and Quảng Bình.

Everywhere he went, the natural beauty of the place and lifestyles of locals impressed him, and he realized the great tourism potential they had.

When Kar graduated in 2009, he received work offers from various travel agents, but he quit after several months, finding the working environment restrictive and not suited to his passion for travelling.

He returned home and continued to wander through the forests in the Central Highlands that gave him peace.

At first, his trips were a personal exploration, enriching his understanding of the forests, their topographyflora and fauna and the ethnic cultures.

When he saw that trekking was becoming popular in the country, he wanted to develop it in his hometown. Undeterred by the lack of support for his idea, he went trekking through all the forests from north to south on his own, studying and designing tours to turn his idea into reality.

Kar’s trekking backpack typically contains rice, instant noodles, dried fish, a lighter, a knife, a fishing rod, pans, hammock and a mini camera. It takes between three and seven days to trek through a forest. Mosquitoes, leeches and snakes are frequent companions.

Kar’s most memorable trek was one through forests from Đắk Lắk to Nha Trang in August, 2014. It was the rainy season. The forest was so dense that he could not find the way out. He was resigned to stopping and spending the night in the forest, sleeping in a hammock. The rain did not let up and the wild animals kept roaring fiercely. Cold and afraid, Kar could not sleep a wink.

The next morning, he decided to follow the stream, and it was the right choice. The stream led him to the source of the Cái River.

Spreading love for forest

Over four years, Kar explored and found many beautiful paths suitable for trekking. He also gained valuable experience and skills about surviving in the forest from local people. He learnt which fruits and leaves were edible, how to prevent and treat malaria with wild plants and how to deal with sprains and other injuries.

Using this invaluable experience and the things he learnt in the university, he became a forest guide, offering tours few others could match.

Among the special experiences of being with Kar is the things he cooks with wild edible plants or animals, like a wild banana salad and grilled fish. With him, people understand directly the value of the forest for human’s survival.

He also introduces the cultures and customs of locals, fostering connections between different peoples.

Kar’s trekking tours have gradually attracted huge numbers of people. His schedule is tight all year round, and the peak time is the dry season, lasting from April to October.

One of the tours that impressed Kar most was in early 2016 when he guided 29 employees of a construction company from HCM City, all of them women. He said not one complained or was late. They were keen on experiencing firsthand the peace of living in a forest, being able to hear the birds sing, drink clear water from the streams and eat wild vegetables.

“The scenery that came in front of my eyes after every step was overwhelming,” said Nguyễn Thạch, after returning from a trekking tour in the Central Highland with Kar.

 “I was most impressed with the beauty of the streams that we saw on the way, each with its uniquecharm and dangers.

“The journey was not smooth. In some places, we had to hack our way through. Our hands were scratched by the thorns of wild trees, and the leeches kept sticking to us.

“But our tour guide, Kar, was experienced and skillfully helped us overcome difficult situations.”

Kar is also impressed by foreign tourists. They don’t bother much about taking selfies. Instead, they listen attentively to him talking about the forest, even though his English is not very fluent. They always ask about strange plants or animals that they see and take notes, carefully.

This attitude has "encouraged me to constantly enrich my knowledge", Kar said.

Kar instructs tourists in basic survival skills, like setting fire, seeking food, recognising weather conditions, identifying directions and avoiding wild beasts.

“The forest is a part of me,” Kar said, adding that he feels great pain on seeing it being destroyed by humans. "Beautiful evergreen forests, the shelter of many precious species, have been devastated and turned into bare mountains," he said.

“By pursuing trekking as a profession and bringing people close to nature, I hope to contribute a part of my life to the preservation of forests.” VNS

 

GLOSSARY

 

At the young age of 32, Kar, whose real name is Hoàng Tuấn Vũ, stands out in a crowd with his sunburnt curly hair and dark skin and sturdy physique.

Someone’s physique is the size and shape of their body. A sturdy physique is one that is strong and solid.

Kar might be the only trekking tour guide in the Central Highlands region, but this is more than a job for him. 

Trekking means hiking.

His work is an expression of his love for forests, and he wants to inspire others to join hands and preserve them.

An expression is an action someone carries out to make others know what they are thinking and how they are feeling.

When someone inspires you, they give you the energy to want to go out and do something positive.

To preserve forests means to keep them as they are.

The peaceful life, surrounded by vast forests and mountains, nurtured his passionate love for the forest.

To nurture something means to look after it so that it can grow.

If you are passionate about something you love it so much you do not worry how much time or money you spend on it.

Everywhere he went, the natural beauty of the place and lifestyles of locals impressed him, and he realized the great tourism potential they had.

Tourism potential means the chances and the opportunities that developing tourism could bring about.

When Kar graduated in 2009, he received work offers from various travel agents, but he quit after several months, finding the working environment restrictive and not suited to his passion for travelling.

If a work environment is restrictive it is not free and people are not able to make good use of being in their jobs.

At first, his trips were a personal exploration, enriching his understanding of the forests, their topographyflora and fauna and the ethnic cultures.

Topography means the shape of the land.

Flora means plants; fauna means animals.

Undeterred by the lack of support for his idea, he went trekking through all the forests from north to south on his own, studying and designing tours to turn his idea into reality.

Undeterred means “not worried”.

Kar’s most memorable trek was one through forests from Đắk Lắk to Nha Trang in August, 2014.

If something is memorable, you will remember it well for a long time.

The forest was so dense that he could not find the way out.

Dense means very thick.

He was resigned to stopping and spending the night in the forest, sleeping in a hammock. 

Resigned, in this case, means to feel accepting of something.

The stream led him to the source of the Cái River.

The source of a river is where that river starts.

He learnt which fruits and leaves were edible, how to prevent and treat malaria with wild plants and how to deal with sprains and other injuries.

If something is edible, you can eat it.

A sprain is a twist in the ankle, the wrist or elsewhere on the body that can cause swelling and pain.

Using this invaluable experience and the things he learnt in the university, he became a forest guide, offering tours few others could match.

Invaluable means extremely useful.

He also introduces the cultures and customs of locals, fostering connections between different peoples.

Fostering means encouraging something to develop.

His schedule is tight all year round, and the peak time is the dry season, lasting from April to October.

Peak time means the busiest time.

“The scenery that came in front of my eyes after every step was overwhelming,” said Nguyễn Thạch, after returning from a trekking tour in the Central Highland with Kar.

Overwhelming means almost too much to be able to cope with.

“I was most impressed with the beauty of the streams that we saw on the way, each with its unique charm and dangers.

If something is unique there is only one of it in the world.

“The journey was not smooth. In some places, we had to hack our way through."

To hack means to chop.

“But our tour guide, Kar, was experienced and skillfully helped us overcome difficult situations.”

To overcome difficulties means to win over them.

They don’t bother much about taking selfies. Instead, they listen attentively to him talking about the forest, even though his English is not very fluent.

Attentively means in a way that involves paying close attention to something.

To be fluent in a language means to be able to express yourself clearly in it.

"Beautiful evergreen forests, the shelter of many precious species, have been devastated and turned into bare mountains," he said.

Evergreens are trees that stay green all year round.

 

WORKSHEET

 

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A word that describes things you can eat.
  2. Hoàng Tuấn Vũ’s other name.
  3. The first month of the dry season.
  4. The name of the river that a stream once led Hoàng Tuấn Vũ to when he was lost.
  5. A type of food you would find in Kar’s trekking backpack.

 

j c i f z e v q z q

b k k o d l i r p a

b o v i s o i b t m

m e b z b r e n x u

u l c s i u h c t e

e o j i b r i z b i

c r y w r a z m d p

g x v f c k p i d q

n h e y r q b z v x

o t u h s n y o u w

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Edible; 2. Kar; 3. April; 4. Cai; 5. Rice.

 

 

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