Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crowds curious to see woman with 5 meter-long hair

Around 500 people visit Hue Phuoc pagoda in Ben Tre province daily to see the elderly woman whose hair is over 5 meters long. VietNamNet reporters arrived at the pagoda around 9am on a hot day in late March 2010. When they came, several dozens of visitors had already entered to burn incense and pray. They also hoped to see an old woman named Miss Tu, famous for her long hair.
Residents explained that while this pagoda is new, it attracts a lot of visitors even from the northern and central region because of Miss Tu. Miss Tu is a 73-year-old woman who always sits on a camp-bed, with her hair splayed out for visitors to see, but she doesn’t allow anyone to take her photo or to film her.

Senior monk Thich Chuc Tue, who manages the pagoda, told VietNamNet that, at the beginning, this was a private pagoda named Chua La. Miss Tu and the monk asked the pagoda owner’s permission to live here in 1986. At that time, the monk was a hermit and Miss Tu was a Buddhist nun with very long hair.

Hue Phuoc pagoda, Miss Tu’s home.


Urbanisation threatens Da Lat

A surge in construction is raising the alarm in the pristine mountain resort town of Da Lat.

 Da Lat City. (Photo: evitco)

Previously, an urban plan for Da Lat was drafted and seriously discussed although development has not followed the plan. In the mean time Da Lat’s beauty is fading and everyone can see it.

What is the best land in Da Lat?

The green areas such as the pine forests and hills. We are always proud of Da Lat for being “the city inside the forest” and tourists like Da Lat for this reason.
Pine forests are however steadily disappearing as construction works increase. Over the next few years construction of a resort near Tuyen Lam lake and Mimosa and Prenn mountain passes, will replace more pine forests.  more>>

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bourdain Returns to His (and mine!)Favorite Place on Earth

Tony Falls in Love Again »
Vietnam is Anthony Bourdain's favorite food destination, and tonight he's heading back. During his adventures in the Central Highlands, Tony is surprised by how much he enjoys a vegetarian meal at a Buddhist pagoda. But his meat quota is met at a picnic on Lake Darn where he devours wild boar and porcupine. Tune in tonight, March 29, at 10 E/P for an all-new Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
Check out behind-the-scenes photos from Vietnam »

Get a sneak peek from this episode »
Get a Taste of Vietnam's Street Food »
If you want good food fast, take to the streets of Vietnam for a food market tour. A trip to a Vietnamese market is not your average grocery run. Here the adventurous eater is rewarded with some of the most unique ingredients in the world. Expand your boundaries and discover new food in Travel Channel's video guidebook »

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hue History Museum gets new home

The main building of the Co Mat Vien, or the imperial Department of Confidential Affairs, where top courtiers discussed important issues during the Nguyen Dynasty’s rule. 

It is currently housed within Di Luan Duong, the former school where scholars were trained during the Nguyen Dynasty era which is set to be handed over to the Hue Relics Conservation Centre.
The museum and the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism initially suggested moving it to Co Mat Vien, or the Department of Confidential Affairs during imperial times.
But it was challenged by several other departments and the Relics Conservation Centre before being dismissed by Nguyen Ngoc Thien, chairman of the province People’s Committee.
As a place where top courtiers once discussed the most important issues facing the country, Co Mat Vien should be treated as a heritage site under international conventions and national laws, the centre argued. continued>>

Related reading:
Phan Thuan An, a Researcher on Hue

Ceremonial singing at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

ceremonial singing at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Hanoians will have a chance to enjoy a ca tru (traditional ceremonial singing) show by UNESCO’s ca tru club at the outdoor stage of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology on March 28.

Born in about the 15th century and reaching its golden peak in the 19th century, ca tru, an UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, like many ancient and highly developed arts, has many forms, but the most widely known and widely performed type involves three performers: a female vocalist, a lute player and a spectator (who also takes part in the performance). more>>

Hand-made 'films' a Vietnam man's passion

AFP photo / Ian Timberlake
This photo taken on January 12, 2010 shows Nguyen Van Long talking with AFP during an interview at his home in Hanoi.

For half a century, Vietnamese artist Nguyen Van Long has been drawing "films" on paper and other media that he proudly screens, for one viewer at a time, with his own sound effects.

"My film is hand-made... that is the valuable thing. My film is not modern," Long, 63, says in an interview at the one-room wooden house where he has lived his whole life.
For 17 years, until illness forced him to take a break early last year, Long was a fixture at the city zoo in Hanoi, entertaining both children and adults.

There were no plush seats and no wide screen. There was not even any electricity, just Long in the open air with his collection of "films" for viewing by an audience of one. continued>>

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vietnam opens Consulate General in Houston-Texas

On March 25, Vietnam’s Consulate General officially opened in Houston city, Texas where more than 450,000 overseas Vietnamese are living.

A representative from the US Department of State, Mrs Betty Mc. Cutchon expressed the hope that the newly established consulate general will help boost economic ties between overseas Vietnamese and businesses in Texas.

Micheal Nguyen, an overseas Vietnamese in Texas said that the event will help US companies to tackle economic and trade issues which are very important for both the US and Vietnamese economies.
On the occasion, Vietnamese Consul General introduced Vietnam’s potential and its investment and business environment to major business groups in Texas and called on investors to explore the market and run long-term businesses in Vietnam.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Visiting the coffee capital

Mention Buon Ma Thuot and people think about a territory filled with coffee trees, a land of sun and wind and friendly people. About 350 kilometers from HCMC . . .

Also in the downtown area, tourists can contemplate the seasoned Konia, a sacred tree associated with spiritual meaning for local ethnic people. For them, the giant Konia is home to dead souls, so they never cut them down but let them live freely and enjoy the protection of their shade. The tree is mentioned in a famous song called “Bong cay Konia” (Konia Tree Shade).

Buon Ma Thuot is also the biggest tourism center in Daklak Province connecting important tourist sites such as Ban Don Tribe, Lak Lake and Dray Sap Waterfall. Strolling around the city, tourists can learn about the customs and cultural features of ethnic groups at places such as Ako Dhong Village. The village is proud of having preserved the traditions of many generations of Ede people and is ideal for learning about ethnic cultures. learn more>>

Halong Tourism Festival to kick off next month

The Halong Tourism Festival 2010 will take place in the northern border province of Quang Ninh from April 29 to May 2. Visitors to the event will have an opportunity to participate in various activities, such as a beauty pageant, a photo exhibition of Halong Bay, a concert, boat-racing, a music performance and fireworks display.
Halong tourism festival to kick off next monthA trade fair and an annual conference on the world’s most beautiful bays will also be held.
Currently, Quang Ninh Province is completing preparatory work for the festival in many resort areas, such as Bay Chay Beach and Mong Cai border gate. The province has invested nearly VND40 billion to build a large stage at Bay Chay Beach as a major venue for the opening ceremony of the festival.
Halong Bay has been twice recognised by UNESCO as the World Heritage for its natural beauty and geology.
Quan ho Bac Ninh singing
Quan ho Bac Ninh singing (Bac Ninh folk love duets) and Ca tru (ceremonial songs) have recently been recognized as “an intangible world heritage” by UNESCO, said an official of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

 Accordingly, Ca tru has been listed as a “cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.” 

Ca tru is highly appreciated for its art value in the Vietnamese culture. Ca tru, which dates back to the 15th century, has also been listed among 12 “intangible global cultural heritage traditions in danger of disappearing.”  read more>>

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Many more Vietnamese records to be recognized

The Vietnam Record Book Centre (Vietkings) will recognize 32 national records at a ceremony in HCM City’s Binh Quoi 2 tourist site on March 27.

Among the 32 new records, there will be 20 new personal records.

Vietkings will introduce the unique bloc calendar about Vietnam’s history, which will be auctioned for charity, at the ceremony. This is a super-size calendar (2.5mx3.7m, 800kg).  To celebrate the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi, the centre will deliver 1000 giant calendars (1.7mx1.2m, 80kg. The 365 sheets of the calendars are 365 historical lessons with vivid illustrations
The super-size calendar (2.5mx3.7m, 800kg).
The 20 personal records which will be recognized on March 27:

- The Vovinam martial art master of the highest level in Vietnam.
- The man who owns the biggest collection of tea pots.
- The man who can revolve the most.
- The man who can cite calendar days in his head most quickly.
- The one with the highest number of medals in the field of biology.
- The shortest twins.
- The fastest text messaging person.
- The first to give an underwater haircut.
- The owner of the biggest collection of old two-wheel vehicles.
- The one who has drawn the most paintings of internationally-known men.
- The longest water-colour painting of flowers.
- The one who takes the largest number of church photos.
- The biggest gemstone-made dragon.
- The biggest coconut shell painting.
- The largest map of Vietnam made of dragons.
- The one who made the highest number of artworks by egg shells.
- The man who can draw by hands, feet and mouth at the same time.
- The oldest yellow apricot tree.
- The owner of the most Vietnam sci-tech awards.

Da Nang hotels booked solid for firework festival

Around 70,000 people will come to Da Nang to admire firework shows during the Da Nang International Firework Festival from March 27-28. All hotel rooms and inns are booked.

 Firework show on the Han River at the Da Nang International Firework Festival 2009.

The festival would host competitors from the US, Portugal, Japan and France. The event, named The Legend of Han River, was selected by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to be one of seven major events nationwide this year, which would be held to prepare for the 1,000th anniversary of the Thang Long – Hanoi capital. It would also celebrate Da Nang’s 35th year of its liberation day.

The occasion would also see flower garland and coloured lantern performances, Vietnamese trade village and drawing exhibitions, and kite flying and marine sport contests.

The first international firework festival was held in Da Nang in 2008.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Press Club celebrates Hanoi’s 1000th anniversary with superb new menu

Hanoi’s legendary Press Club is paying its own tribute to the city’s 1000th anniversary with an exciting new food promotion of national specialties and local ingredients.

The celebratory menu is a testament to the enduring popularity of Vietnamese food, and honors Hanoi’s reputation as one of the country’s best cities for eating – one where locals put their own special twist on just about everything.

The menu was devised by one of Vietnam’s most renowned, Western interpreters of Vietnamese cuisine, Marcel Isaak, who authored an authoritative 1997 book, Foods of Vietnam. Featured in the new menu will be the Press Club’s takes on famous Hanoi dishes like cha ca, marinated grilled fish with herbs and rice noodles. Local ingredients play the lead role in this culinary performance: prawns are cooked with Hanoi Beer, the sautéed green vegetables are grown nearby, and even the lotus tea is named after Hanoi’s famous West Lake.

“This anniversary is a landmark event for Hanoi and for Vietnam,” said Kurt Walter, the Press Club’s general manager. “We wanted to take this chance to pay homage to the incredible cuisine of the country, with special emphasis on the local favorites that have made Hanoi’s reputation as a town for foodies.”

Hue Festival 2010 to have underwater stage

A dancing play entitled “The Breath of Water” will be performed for the first time on a 1500sq.m underwater stage at the upcoming Hue Festival 2010.

The play tells a romantic love story about the separation and reunion of boys and girls in the dynastic era. Young talents like Linh Nga, Quynh Lien and Xuan Chien will play the leading roles.

Tinh Tam Lake is among 20 landscapes of the Nguyen dynasty in the former capital city of Hue. The Hue Festival 2010 will take place from June 5-13, drawing over 30 art troupes from 25 countries. more>>

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hanoi Sound Stuff to go on stage this month

As many as 80 artists from 16 countries and territories around the world are expected to participate in the Hanoi Sound Stuff Festival 2010, which will take place from March 26-28.

Entitled “Green space”, the festival will be co-organised by the Vietnam National Academy of Music and the Culture Production and Development Company M.A.M, in the lead up to the millennial anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi.

Musician Tri Minh, a representative of the organizing board, said at a March 12 press briefing that this is the third festival of its kind to be held in Vietnam, with the participation of a larger number of Vietnamese and foreign artists. more on Hanoi News>>

French chef cooks’ books on Vietnamese dishes

A collection of four books on Vietnamese dishes entitled “Five Seasons” written by a group of authors headed famous by French Chef Didier Corlou was made debut in Hanoi on Nov. 28, 2008.
The books, in English, introduced 12 traditional dishes and 12 contemporary dishes from Hanoi and northeastern region.
Didier Corlou, who has lived and worked in Vietnam for over 15 years, said that the books were compiled in a year.
French chef cooks' books
He informed that the authors plan to study and write about dishes in the northwestern, central and southern regions in the coming time. Corlou expressed his hope that Vietnamese dishes would be known by numerous foreign people.
In 2004, Corlou’s book entitled “Vietnamese Gastronomy” won prizes of best book on gastronomy in western region and best book on Asian gastronomy.
The collection will be published in French and Vietnamese languages in the coming time.
(Source: VNA)

Paintings relive old Hanoi

Female painter Van Duong Thanh has made the old Hanoi revive through her 30 oil paintings that are being exhibited in the capital city’s Melia Hotel.

Paintings relive old hanoiSuch features of the city as the Khue Van Cac – Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature in Van Mieu (Temple of Literature-Vietnam’s first university), and O Quan Chuong – one of the ancient gates into Hanoi, are lively depicted in the paintings although the painter has been living abroad for quite a long time.
The paintings reflect the painter’s “Glimpse of the thousand-year old Thang Long”, where its age-old distinctive architectural buildings and space have partly been maintained.
The two-month exhibition will last until May 16.
(Source: VNA)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hue owns biggest plain rice cake in Vietnam

Thua Thien-Hue’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism on March 20 organised a ceremony to announce the city’s 2010 tourism year and presented to the public the country’s biggest plain rice cake.
A parade of 5,000 people with 400 motorbikes, automobiles, bicycles and cyclos accompanied the ceremony to promote major culture and tourism events in 2010.  

A plain rice cake 396 times bigger than a traditional one was carried out by the Hue Tourism Promotion Information Centre and the Hue Kitchen Club.
The cake, which weighs 200kg, was made by 30 bakers in one hour.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Vietnam, Cauldrons on Every Corner

Arantxa Cedillo for The New York Times
A waiter selects items from the offerings at Minh Duc, a restaurant in the center of Ho Chi Minh City.

“YOU like congealed pigs’ blood?” my travel companion asked, pulling me over to a street cart in Ho Chi Minh City. Before I could answer, two bowls of chao, a rice porridge bobbing with slices of pork sausage and cubes of coagulated blood, were plopped in our hands.

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide

Arantxa Cedillo for The New York Times
At Com Nieu Sai Gon, rice is cooked in a clay pot, which is then broken open, leaving a crispy patty. 

Pigs’ blood porridge isn’t something I’d normally try. I may not have even wandered over to see what was cooking in the streetside cauldron on wheels. But then again, I wasn’t on this culinary trek with any ordinary traveler. I was with Michael Huynh (pronounced “win”), a New York chef and restaurateur who was taking me on an eating tour of his native city.continued>>

In pictures: Vietnam's internet addiction

The number of internet connections in Vietnam has soared in the last 10 years, increasing from 200,000 in 2000 to over 22m by June 2009. Internet cafes offering online game services are very popular in big cities. (Text/images: Ngoc Nguyen)

According to forecasts, the number of online game players in Vietnam will exceed 10m by 2011, with "Online Games" signs at every internet cafe.
Users at internet cafes are mostly teenagers who come to play online games for hours at a time.

Internet cafes tend to be open from 0600 until 2300, charging 3,000 – 4,000 dong (10-13p) per hour. Some teenagers play for up to 13 hours at a time, stopping only to drink water or eat instant noodles.

VinaGame is one of the biggest companies distributing online games in Vietnam. Teenage gamers meet at its service center to trade online game accounts. Players who cannot reach the next level on a certain game can buy an account from a player who has.
Hai, 14, was once an online game addict who used to play up to 15 hours each day. He cried as he described the times he stole money from his father to support his online game addiction.

The Centre of Culture and Sports for Youth of South Vietnam runs a course aimed at helping young people rekindle family relationships and create more personal interactions to replace the virtual world.

Though the course is not designed solely for game addicts, it helped Hai express his emotions and thoughts: "I would like to give my dad a hug and kiss… so that we two could understand each other better," he said.

Introducing teenagers to new hobbies such as dancing, hip hop and rap is one of the ways used by the youth centre to help them move away from their online addiction.

Hai's parents believe that with determination and the support of their families,
 teenagers can succeed in kicking their habit.
Hai's message to other teenagers: "Games would be a form of entertainment if used properly, but if not, it only brings loss – the loss of love and trust from your family. It's only the virtual world, and it's not worth the loss you would suffer."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam - Part 4 of 5

Vietnam's stelae declared Unesco World Heritage Site

 The doctoral steles at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi are recognized by UNESCO as world documentary heritage
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has declared the 82 stelae of the Temple of Literature in Vietnam as a World Heritage Site, Prensa Latina reported.
The Temple of Literature, located in a park in central Hanoi, was founded by emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1070. It is dedicated to Confucius.
Vietnam's first university was established in the complex in 1076 to train the administrative and defense staff.
It has 82 stelae mounted on top of giant tortoises that line on the side of the temple. They date from 1484 and record names, birthplaces and achievements of the men who received doctorates here.
Names of 2,313 students graduated from the institution between 1484 and 1780, during the Late Le, Mac, Trinh and Nguyen dynasties, were sculpted in the stones.
Although the complex has undergone many changes over the centuries, the architecture of the site belong to the Ly (1010-1225) and Tran (1225-1400) dynasties, a recent study has showed.
The Unesco recognition was approved recently in Macau, the report said Wednesday.

Guest Post: Volunteering in Vietnam

Samantha Lister from shares some expert advice on volunteering in Vietnam.
When considering where to volunteer for a trip of a lifetime, Vietnam might not be the first country that comes into your mind.  Research into this intriguing, historical country however, is likely to change your perspectives which have probably been generated largely by media interest into Vietnam’s troubled past.
Volunteering is an integral part of Vietnam’s development.  As is the case with much of  Asia, many of Vietnam’s communities suffer from acute poverty and deprivation.  This makes each volunteer project that takes place here extremely rewarding and valuable as volunteers become part of helping to build communities and contribute to the future of Vietnam.
The most popular volunteer projects in this area include teaching English and working with orphans and children with Special Needs of all ages.  Although this can be heart-breaking at times when you see the conditions some of the children live in but at the same time, you become part of their future and through volunteering, you know you are helping to shape their lives for the better. Vietnam also offers the chance to get involved in environmental projects within the rural countryside, including community projects to build homes for underprivileged families. 
Volunteering in Vietnam is an experience that you will never forget; life in this poverty-stricken country is very different to what you and I are probably used to, but given the opportunity to give something back to the people here is an opportunity not to be missed.
Whilst working on your volunteer project, you will also have the opportunity to explore the country and learn of its various customs and traditions, and its colonial past.   Also, not to be missed is the variety of flavorsome food on offer. 
With a wealth of volunteering opportunities in Vietnam available, particularly with the growth of the internet, you are sure to find a project that best suits your skills and interests.  Above all, it is the enthusiasm and motivation that volunteers bring to the country that will help move communities forward, towards a better life for generations to come.
For more travel tips and vacation inspiration, check out the Tripbase Travel Blog Tripbase site.
About Tripbase:
Tripbase eliminates the time-consuming and frustrating online search process by providing travelers with personalized travel recommendations for their next trip. Tripbase was named Top Travel Website for Destination Ideas by Travel and Leisure magazine in November 2008.