PhD in psychology quits high-pay job to open museum

A Vietnamese PhD in psychology has quitted his high-pay job to return the hometown opening a museum of fish sauce featuring characteristics of local culture of a old village which manufactured the special sauce.

A fish sauce vat in the museum (Photo: SGGP)

A fish sauce vat in the museum (Photo: SGGP)

Psychologist Tran Ngoc Dung left the job at a joint venture company on market research to come back the central province of Binh Thuan, his hometown, to open a museum of fish sauce- a familiar sauce for Vietnamese people.
Just in two years, psychologist Dung was successful in building a cultural tourist site which reproduces life, produce and cultural characteristics of a fishing village 300 years ago.
Being a valedictorian of University of Economic in Ho Chi Minh City in 1993, psychologist Dung was one of 48 excellent students countrywide receiving scholarships to pursue studying in Australia.
After graduating Business Management major in Australia, the young man continued his pursuit of learning in France where he took PhD in psychology.
After ten year learning abroad, he decided to return Vietnam as he cooperated with a Japanese friend to open a marketing research company.
He said despite his high-paid job at the time in the big city, he was haunted by salty sensation of fish and yellowish color of fish sauce bowl when returning his hometown in Phan Thiet city in Binh Thuan province. Therefore, whenever he was free, he trekked to a 300-year - old fishing village to find old items of making fish sauce in giant fish sauce household producers.
However, time flies and consumers’ taste has changed little by little, these giant fish sauce household producers disappeared and ancient production items have been replaced by other ones made by easy-to-find materials. Living in many countries, he yearned to do something to keep Phan Thiet’s old culture.
After questioning many times that what he should do to keep the old culture of fishing village in Phan Thiet, the idea of setting up a museum where both keeps traditional culture and a place that tourists can visit to understand more about the old profession.
In 2017, he decided to sell all his shares in the company in Ho Chi Minh City and then returned Phan Thiet for his plan of opening a museum despite of friends’ and relatives’ discouragement.
People’s Committee of Binh Thuan Province has given the green light to his plan of setting up a museum of fish sauce and facilitated it.
Dung made contacted with local researchers and ancient collectors in Phan Thiet to have more exhibits . Hundreds of old items and devices including vats, urns, jars, mugs, sticks, tents, giant households in making fish sauce as well as document of the career have been exhibited in the new museum located in a vast land in Phu Hai Commune, which is famous for its traditional fish sauce making profession.
He has used different methods of increasing interaction between the museum and visitors as ways to attract visitors and eliminate tediousness.
Specifically, one day, the author and a group of visitor dropped by the museum. Tourists were gathering in a movie room watching a documentary film about history of a traditional fishing village in Phan Thiet. Some young men murmured that they have known for the very first time that fish sauce is made elaborately.
Museum guide led visitors to next room where exhibits hundreds of production items of fish sauce in the old days. Here, visitors can find out more information of ingredients, recipe and devices of making fish which forefather had used.
Interestingly, visitors can have chance to distinguish pure and mixed fish sauce as per forefathers’ ways. One of visitors, Nguyen Huy Toan, hailing from Ho Chi Minh City was holding some rice leftovers dropping in a bowl of fish sauce. The female guide was explaining that according to old people’s experience, if rice leftovers float in fish sauce bowl, fish sauce is pure kind and vice versa.
Not only establishing the special museum- the first of its kind in the country, psychologist Dung also restore a renowned fish sauce of a time. The renowned fish sauce was made 300 years ago and consumed widely across the country.
Director of Binh Thuan province’s Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism Ngo Minh Chinh lauded Dung who had lived many places in the world but he still loves his hometown and local culture. The museum has restored local traditional culture and contributed to Phan Thiet tourism diversification.
In addition to the museum, he has also re-produced the renowned fish sauce of 300-year-old fishing village which was consumed well.

BY NGUYEN TIEN - Translated by DANG MINH

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