Minh Han Interview
Tell us about your outdoors experience.
I grew up in the concrete jungle of Houston, so I did not find many opportunities to spend extended time outdoors enjoying the beauty of nature. Although I had a few day hikes and camping trips as a teen and young adult, I did not get to fully appreciate outdoor activities until moving to Roanoke, Virginia for my medical residency in family medicine. Virginia had the topography and climate that invited outdoor activities in all four seasons. While in Virginia, I water skied for the first time, hiked the Appalachian Trail, learned how to downhill ski, and had a weekend camping trip that cemented a relationship that lasted 16 years. Since then, I have tried to spend at least a little bit of time outdoors on a regular basis.
How much do you like to outdoor recreation? Are you in love with it? If so...when did you fall in love and where?
I’m not an extreme outdoorsman, but I have been able to do some pretty cool outdoor activities, most of which have been connected to the international volunteer medical mission work I have done over the past twenty years. I have hiked through the Amazon jungle in Venezuela, ridden elephants in Thailand, traveled to rural villages in Ghana, West Africa, treated patients in yak-dung villages in Tibet, and cared for the sick in the low-land marshes of my home country Vietnam. Despite all of this, I haven’t been to the major natural wonders of our own country, like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Yosemite. So, I still have bucket list entries to cross off!
If you knew someone who was thinking of starting outdoor recreation, what advice would you give them?
Find activities you’re comfortable doing and other activities that take you out of your comfort zone. Find a friend to enjoy the time with, or join a group that shares similar interests or backgrounds, like GO. Be willing to stretch into unknown situations or activities, because you might find you fall in love with them. And even if the first few times don’t seem to work out, stick with it, because just like the weather, outdoor activities might start out gloomy but end up in beautiful sunshine.
What was your first GO excursion? How did it turn out?
Jonathan Clark’s annual hike and picnic in 2010 was my first GO excursion. I met great guys there who remembered me even years after meeting them again. I loved the friendly atmosphere, the acceptance of all levels of activity, and the variety of life experiences each guy brought to the mix.
What do you like about GayOutdoors?
GayOutdoors provides me a venue to meet gay men who enjoy outdoor activities in an easygoing atmosphere. Most of them have a great deal more experience with what this region has to offer, so I learn so much more about the state while enjoying great company. It’s been a wonderful way to improve my physical, social, and emotional well being.
Describe Connecticut to our outdoorzy members who’ve never been there? Is there a lot to do if you are an outdoor enthusiast?
CT has a plethora of outdoor activities for all four seasons of the year. Walking and hiking predominate in the fall and spring. Beach activities, river tubing, and the Brownstone Park in Portland, CT are wonderful summer options. And several ski slopes attract hundreds each winter weekend, my favorite of which is Powder Ridge in Middlefield.
What is your favorite Adventure Travel place?
Picking a favorite would be difficult, since I’ve been fortunate to do some very neat ones. If pressed, I would say the medical mission trip to the Amazon jungle of Venezuela was my favorite. The flora and fauna of the Amazon are spectacular. Every square inch held something even more beautiful than the previous—and at times deadly.
What is your wish list for adventure travel and why?
I would like to see some of the natural wonders the United States boasts. Australia and New Zealand have also long captured my imagination, even before the Lord of the Rings movies. And who wouldn’t want to see the Galapagos Islands?
What is your favorite thing to do a perfect summer day?
I would love to spend a perfect summer day splashing around in the quarry at the Brownstone Park with a group of GO members. I’d like to see them jump off the cliff and zip across the park on the zip line. And after getting tired out by the activities, I would sit in the sand and people watch, enjoying the scenery of an entirely different nature.
If you could spend the day on the trail with one person, living or dead, it would be…
My father. He passed away nine years ago at the young age of 64. We did not have an extremely close relationship through the years. Some of that had to do with my sexual orientation, but much of it had to do with my father never being taught by his father how to express emotion and affection. I was too wrapped up in my education and growing independence to appreciate the necessity of maintaining a closer bond with him when I was going through medical school and residency. When I did try to reconnect, the hepatitis B that my father kept hidden from the family had already begun ravaging his liver. No one expects the finality of the end of life. Even as a doctor, I can easily be lulled into the illusion that my loved ones will live forever. I would love to have one more sunny day outdoors with Dad, listening to his difficult upbringing, sharing the gratitude I have for the ways he did the best he could with a limited education and emotional tools, and letting him know that I love him.
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