Saturday, May 29, 2010

The hidden charms of a beach at the foot of the mountains

VietNamNet Bridge – Thousands of people flock to a cool beach in Quy Nhon City during the summer.

A shelter in the shape of a giant guitar at the beach.

Quy Hoa beach is situated between two low mountain ranges that merge with the blue sea, offering stunning vistas and mild weather that combines sunshine with the cool breezes blowing out of the forests from the mountains. To reach it, one has to ride down the road going from Quy Nhon to the neighbouring province of Phu Yen, make a turn on the first downhill road on the left and follow it.

The beach is closed off and there is a gate. The whole place has been developed into a complex. The entrance costs for the complex is VND5,000 plus another VND2,000 for motorbikes. At the entrance of the beach is a park with statues of world celebrities who dedicated their lives to fighting leprosy. 

Reach the beach: Quy Hoa Beach in central Viet Nam.
more on vietnamnet>>

Sleepless cafés in Saigon

LookAtVietnam - Vietnam has ca phe coc, meaning cafes on the sidewalk or in front of offices, which only open from morning until noon. Saigon has ca phe bui or ca phe bet, where customers can sit on the ground.

 A ca phe bui in HCM City.
Pham Ngu Lao road, which is called Pho Tay (street for foreigners), has a dozen ca phe bui to serve travelers.

A ca phe bui can be a plastic bag containing various things from bottles of green tea, plastic cups, straws and some kinds of soft drink, which is hung on the street. Customers serve themselves by taking a plastic cup and choosing their drink. Another ca phe bui is equipped with a spongy box and a plastic bag.

Tam, 27, an original Saigonese opens his ca phe bui at the foot of a tree on Le Lai road. This ca phe bui is taken care of by four family members, consisting of Tam, his wife, his sister and his mother. His family lives in a 15 square meter apartment in an alley. more on lookatvietnam>>

Shopping for love in Vietnam's mountains

Once a year, with his wife's blessing, Lau Minh Pao gets to have a guilt-free tryst with his ex.

Main Image

The love market village of Khau Vai is seen from the top of a mountain in Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province, 500 km (310 mi) north of Hanoi May 9, 2010.

Ethnic San Chi girls giggle while attending the "love market" in Khau Vai village in Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province, 500 km (310 miles) north of Hanoi May 9, 2010.
Hmong girls wait for their lovers at the Khau Vai 'love market' in Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province, 500 km (310 mi) north of Hanoi May 10, 2010

Ethnic Hmong wait for their lovers at the Khau Vai 'love market' in Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province, 500 km (310 mi) north of Hanoi May 10, 2010. 

A Hmong girl goes to Khau Vai 'love market' in Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province, 500 km (310 mi) north of Hanoi May 10, 2010

Their rendezvous' have played out more like strolls down memory lane than salacious flings, but they are part of a treasured tradition in this mountainous corner of northern Vietnam that may challenge some more linear concepts of love.
"In the past, we were lovers, but we couldn't get married because we were far apart," Pao simply as he waited for his date on a dark night in the village of Khau Vai in Ha Giang province.
Now when they meet, he said, "we pour our hearts out about the time when we were in love."
They are not alone. continued on reuters>>

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photo Gallery: Vietnam's Sapa worth the treck

It had been a very long night. But Sapa’s beauty was enough to make even the worst of the journey worthwhile. 

High in the mountains, we spent the days riding motorcycles through terraced rice fields and the nights shooting pool with locals and fellow backpackers alike.

You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at

Travis Lupick In Vietnam's northwest, terrace rice fields line Sapa's narrow mountain roads.

Travis Lupick Friendly locals stop to sell crafts or just chat with tourists new to town.

Travis Lupick

More here>>

Travis Lupick

Asian Dumplings on the Fly: How to Create Your Own Fillings

via Viet World Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen

If you've worked your way through a few recipes in the Asian Dumplings cookbook, you may want to break out on your own. You have a lot of dumpling leeway in the filling, which are mostly interchangeable in the cookbook recipe chapters. Read the recipe introductions and think of a mix-and-match ensemble wardrobe. (How many ways can you wear a business suit?) Once you understand the foundational filling flavor profile and texture, try winging one.

Below are few pointers on how I did that today. My fridge was overloaded with odds and ends of ingredients that I had prepped, cooked, or over purchased. There was leftover grilled steak, a partial bunch of bok choi, finely chopped wood ear mushroom from recipe development, and too much scallion, which I bought on impulse at our farmer's market yesterday. Key size, moisture, and ingredients.continued>>

Hundreds of jar tombs unearthed in Phu Yen

VietNamNet Bridge – Hundreds of "jar tombs" (urns) have been discovered in a ten hectare area along the banks of Ky Lo River in Phu Yen province.

The urns are of different sizes, ranging from 1.2 to over 2m long and 0.5-0.6m wide, and were found along the Ky Lo River in the two villages of Tan and Tan Phu in Xuan Son Nam commune.

At the archaeological site, hundreds of terra-cotta jar jars have been unearthed. They are oval, with two open tips like doors. Apart from broken pieces of the jar is debris from bowls, plates and white bricks, which are very thin but heavy.

A broken jar tomb.

On Location: In Vietnam, Recreating French Roots

In Valerie Gregori McKenzie's childhood home in Toulouse, France, the exotic was never far. Family lore was rooted in colonial Algiers, where three generations of Gregoris had lived until Algeria’s war for independence forced their return to France in 1961.

“I was raised in a family where the past took place in a dream country that didn’t exist anymore,” she said. “As an adult, I wanted to find it, and recreate it for my children.”

After stints in Paris, Los Angeles, and Nevis (of which she’s also a citizen), in 1992, Ms. Gregori McKenzie, 46, settled here in Vietnam, later establishing Song, an environment-friendly line of casual wear and home linens.

But it took 11 years before she found a home where she could recreate her family’s roots. And surprisingly, it was a dimly lit, termite-infested, 40-year-old property on the Saigon River in An Phu, an affluent enclave of expatriates about a 20-minute drive from the city center.  more at the NewYorkTimes>>

Silky touch for tourists

One silk shop in Lam Dong province attracts more than 35,000 domestic and foreign visitors a year. Dai Phong finds out why this shop is so popular. 

Cuong Hoan silk shop in Nam Ban-Lam Ha district of Lam Dong province is named after the owners, Nguyen Van Cuong and his wife Truong Thi Hoan. The shop is 25km from Dalat City but people staying in Dalat don’t seem to mind making the trip. 
Located near the popular waterfall Thac Voi in Lam Ha town, the shop is always filled with tourists looking to pick up some authentic silk, which is produced on site in a traditional fashion.
Phan Tai Tho from Hanoi, a tour guide from Oat-Grand Circle, explains the attraction. “Foreign tourists like to admire the scenery, people, cultural life and history of Vietnam, especially the countryside,” he says. “They are impressed by Cuong Hoan Silk shop and tell their friends to visit this shop whenever they travel to Vietnam. That is why you see so many foreign tourists here.” continued on Lookatvietnam>>

Saturday, May 22, 2010

60 craft villages show off skills at Da Nang festival

VietNamNet Bridge – The Festival for Vietnamese Craft Villages 2010 opened at 29/3 Park in the central city of Da Nang on May 19, introducing unique products of 60 craft villages throughout the country.

Apart from displaying their products in over 100 stalls, craftsmen will also perform their skills in making brocade, pottery, woodblock, and casting bronze drums.

The festival, the second so far, is a chance to honor traditional craft villages, which have existed for centuries.

Some products exhibited at the festival:

A wood painting from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Paper-made flowers from the central city of Hue.

Pottery items made by Cham artisans from Ninh Thuan.

A painting made by cajuput barks from Kien Giang province

Terra-cotta statues from the central province of Quang Nam.

Sedge-mats from Da Nang.

Bamboo-made products from the central province of Quang Nam.

Source: Dan Tri

Finding a More Serene Vietnam

Kevin German for The New York Times
A beach on Con Son Island, one of the Con Dao Islands off the southern coast of Vietnam.

If not for the Communist slogans being piped out of the town’s loudspeakers, it would have been hard to believe this was Vietnam. Where, after all, were the motorbikes, the honking horns, the shiny high-rises, and the constant activity that has come to characterize this rapidly developing country?

Until recently, the isolated 16-island archipelago of Con Dao (its largest island, Con Son, is commonly called Con Dao Island), 110 miles off the mainland’s southeastern coast, was a place most Vietnamese wanted to forget. For 113 years, this island was home to one of the country’s harshest prison systems, established by French colonists in 1862 and later ruled by South Vietnamese and American forces until Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975, at which point the prisons were closed. Read entire article>>

The Isolated Con Dao Islands 
Slide Show

The Isolated Con Dao Islands

Beep! Beep! Vietnam launches war on deadly traffic

"I've been to many countries, but I've never seen traffic like what's in Vietnam," said Than Van Thanh, a manager of the government's National Committee for Traffic Safety. "Over the past five years, the traffic accidents in Vietnam have remained very high. Every day 31 people never return to their homes."
Vietnam reported 11,500 traffic-related deaths last year, but experts say the actual number could be double that. The World Health Organization says the rate is probably about 20 deaths per 100,000 people, among the world's highest.  Read whole article>>

Quang Nam’s fishermen catch giant pregnant ray

LookAtVietnam - After over one hour struggling with a ray over 200kg, some Quang Nam fishermen landed the fish on May 16.

Senior fishermen reported that this is the biggest ever ray swimming near the shore that they have seen in their lives. The fish carried a big egg sack.

The giant fish was caught at a coral reef near the coast by seven fishermen. "It took us over one hour to bring it to the shore," reported one fisherman.

The fish was chopped up the same day while hundreds of people watched.

"We saw a big egg sack in the stomach. Perhaps it was seeking a place to lay eggs when we caught it," the fisherman added.


International fashion brands mark Vietnam

LookAtVietnam – More and more international fashion brands have arrived in Vietnam along with the many high grade fashion centres in big cities.

LookAtVietnam - More and more international fashion brands have arrived in Vietnam along with the many high grade fashion centres in big cities.

In late April 2010, Vincom trade centre, located at the corner of Dong Khoi and Le Thanh Ton streets in central HCM City, made its debut. The trade centre has gathered a series of famous fashion names here, from  Versace, Emporio Armani, D'Blance and Polo to John Henry, Giovanni, San Sciaro, Valentino Creations, Carven Paris and Pierre Cardin.

Prior to that, Parkson Flemington became operational on Le Dai Hanh Street, attracting a lot of famous brands of cosmetics, perfumes and clothiers.

At the same time, Kumho Asiana Plaza in HCM City opened with Debenhams fashion centre, Aldo and Converse shoes, Tissot watches, Playboy and Levi's clothes, and many other brand names like Elle, Paris Hilton, Aubade and Carita.  read more>>

Source: Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon

First Buddhist supermarket opens in HCM City

LookAtVietnam - Providing vegetarian food, plus Buddhist clothes, flowers, and objects of worship, Phap Hoa Buddhism Supermarket opened at HCM City's Pho Quang pagoda on May 15.

A representative of HCM City Buddhist Shangha explained that this is the first Buddhist supermarket in HCM City and the biggest one in Vietnam located inside a pagoda's grounds.

Huynh Long Ngoc Diep, the supermarket's managing director, advised that prices are always the same or cheaper than outside shops. Profits will be used for charity.

The supermarket displays and sells products made by monasteries in HCM City.

It also has a studio named Mani Media Buddhism to record and shoot films about Buddhist activities and presentations by senior monks.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

By the seaside

LookAtVietnam - Nha Trang is home to a number of fascinating cultural sites, proving that the city is more than a 'beach destination'.

LookAtVietnam - Nha Trang is home to a number of fascinating cultural sites, proving that the city is more than a 'beach destination'. 

Nha Trang is undoubtedly one of Vietnam's best known 'beach destinations'. The vast majority of visitors come here to feel the warm sand in between their toes and the sea breeze blowing through their hair
But as I tend to wilt in the sunshine, I always prefer to explore the local cultural sites during the day and hit the beach in the late afternoon.
And Nha Trang has plenty to offer by way of culture – this was once the centre of Champa civilization; in fact the name Nha Trang is thought to have been derived from the Cham word yakram, which means 'bamboo river'.
The city is home to some of the best preserved Cham towers in Vietnam. Located on a granite knoll on the northern bank of the Cai river in Vinh Phuoc quarter, the Cham Towers of Po Nagar (The Lady of the City) were built between the 7th and 12th centuries.
Known as Thap Ba in Vietnamese, the site included eight towers, four of which remain, which were used for worship as early as the second century AD. Today, ethnic Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists come to Po Nagar to pray and make offerings here, according to their respective traditions.
The original wooden structure was razed to the ground by an invading troop of Javanese in 744 AD but was replaced by a stone and brick temple in 784. continued>>

Original flavor of Haiphong sea-crab spring roll

Fried nem, which is also known as spring roll, has long been considered one of the symbols of Vietnamese cuisine. That’s why it appears in all the three regions of Vietnam with a little difference in spice and shape. Among them, Haiphong City’s sea-crab spring roll leaves something special in gourmets’ souls for its sweet and buttery taste.

Traditional nem is usually in a small cylinder shape. However, the sea-crab spring roll made in Haiphong City is in a large square shape nearly equal to a person’s palm. That’s why people have to spend so much time and go through meticulous stages to make it with a solid cover but crispy after being fried. Another special feature of this nem is its stuffing of sea-crab and extra materials, not traditional pork or shrimp. more>>

SIG looks for its place in Danang’s sun

LookAtVietnam - Saigon Invest Group has joined the race to tap Danang's coastal tourism potential with a new luxurious resort. 

Saigon-Danang Investment Corporation, an affiliate of Saigon Invest Group, will develop the $110 million Le Meridien Danang Resort & Spa on Non Nuoc beach, which is currently seeing a construction boom.
According to the developer, the resort will consist of 349 hotel rooms , 149 luxurious apartments and 48 villas for sales. 
Once completed in 2013, the five-star resort will heat up already fierce competition to lure foreign and local tourists to a range of tourism ventures along Danang's coast. Last year, the city received about 1.35 million tourists and the number is expected to increase to 1.45 million this year. more>>

Fountain on a hot day

via saigon today by simon kutcher on 5/15/10

Life floats by

LookAtVietnam - Chai Village, a little fishing village hidden behind a mountain in the Tri Nguyen islands off Nha Trang, offers tourists an attractive seascape and tasty cuisine.  

There are around 50 families in the village, most of which live in floating houses built on rafts. Others raise fish in cages under rafts on the sea but they live on the island. They earn their living not only by selling seafood to traders but also by serving it to tourists.

Telling us about the history of the village, locals said Tri Nguyen was deserted not too long ago. But fishermen from some central provinces like Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh arrived with their boats to avoid strong storms.  more>>

The village of painters

LookAtVietnam - This village became known in 1994 as the "village of painters," when the Vietnam Art Association organized an exhibition entitled "Co Dong Village Paintings."

To nurture budding painters, some artists who grew up in Co Dong village, Tran Hoa, Hoang Van Viet, Phan Quang Tung, Nguyen Truong Yen and Phung Duy Duc, opened a painting class for village kids in 1996.

Mô tả ảnh.
Mô tả ảnh.
The class is divided into two groups, 8-12 years old and 13-16 years old.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How I've missed Saigon

American dollars, once shunned, are now common currency in Binh Tay Market. 

You have to learn to walk like a local in Saigon or you'll be in serious threat of injury. Stride confidently into the sea of motorbikes that are racing down the avenues: It's gut-wrenchingly scary at first. But like a scene from The Matrix, everything seems to move around you as long as they can trust you to keep moving in the same direction. Lose your nerve and stop or try to backtrack and disaster may ensue. 

Then: Proper ladies rode bicycles and their long gowns fluttered alluringly as they pedalled. Pedicabs were more common than cars as taxis. 

Now: Ladies ride motor scooters and most often wear jeans rather than dresses and don face masks to protect themselves from road dust and fumes. Motorcycles outnumber cars four to one, and the pedicabs have been replaced by Toyota SUVs. more>>

Sofitel Legend Metropole voted as world’s coolest new hotel

VietNamNet Bridge - Hanoi-based Sofitel Metropole Hotel has made the Conde Nast Traveler Hot List 2010, the publication's annual list of the "66 coolest new hotels in the world". 

The hotel, over 100 years old, spent over US$20 million in renovations, over the past four years.

Its Le Spa du Metropole, which opened in April, also received recognition as one of the world hottest spas in this year.

The hotel has received numerous other accolades in the past. The Sofitel Metropole was chosen as one of the 500 best hotels in the world by readers of Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Travel; selected as the best hotel in Ha Noi by Hong Kong's Destin Asian, Asia Money magazine, and Viet Nam's VnEconomy; and received an award from the Viet Nam Tourism Association.

Sofitel Metropole Hanoi was also named 2007's best hotel for businessmen in a capital city, by readers of the Business Traveler Asia Pacific, a leading travel magazine.

Silver artisans strive for success

LookAtVietnam -  Skilled artisans in Dong Xam, a silver-carving village, are struggling to solve thorny environmental protection issues and find new markets.

The ancient temple in Dong Xam (Kien Xuong District, Thai Binh Province) is dedicated to the founder of the silver-carving job.

LookAtVietnam -  Skilled artisans in Dong Xam, a silver-carving village, are struggling to solve thorny environmental protection issues and find new markets. 

Although he has reached the ripe old age of 80, Ta Duc Nhu still has no intention of saying good-bye to his hammer.
Nhu is a silver artisan in Dong Xam Village, Hong Thai Commune, in the northern province of Thai Binh's Kien Xuong District.  continued>>

A First Person Account On A Vietnam Visit

By: Channel 2 Action News employee John Smith

Vietnam -- what a country of contrasts.I just returned from my last trip there. It was the occasion of a reunion of old (and getting older) news people who covered the war. The gathering was a 4-day event in Saigon (none of that Ho Chi Minh City stuff for me.) It was mostly former and present wire service reporters, but included news photographers like me, and others associated with the conflict.

The biggest, immediate impression is WOW -- what a change ! The streets are clean, the tourists are here, and the building boom is outstripping space. There are new, bigger, taller skyscrapers.I was here three years ago and the construction was mind-boggling, but now the buildings are taller, bigger, and there are more of them.

They appear to love Americans, English is spoken everywhere. They are even taking English lessons. Prices are in American dollars and the people are friendly. A lot of money from all over the world is being invested here.There are new hotels, (Sheraton, Hyatt, Marriott) designer stores (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Mark Jacobs, etc) department stores, night clubs, and banks.

The colonel in this town is KFC. Other American franchises are well established and doing well. The entire cab fleet has been re-conditioned with new sedans. The hotels will be glad to supply you a driver and a new Mercedes limo, for a price. Tourism is big here. There are a lot of Americans but also tourists from all over the world. The Vietnamese are taking full advantage of the influx. The famous tunnels that plagued American soldiers, with their hidden combatants, are now a tourist attraction. The Chu Chi tunnels are high on the list of treks.  continued>>