Monday, 10 December 2012

Quan The Am fetival in Da Nang city

Every year, thousands of people, visitors and Buddhist monks and nuns attended Quan Yin Cultural Festival in Da Nang city.

Quan The Am (Avalokitesvara/ Quan Yin) Cultural Festival is organized on the 19th day of the second month (lunar calendar) every year with cultural activities which help restore and promote the traditional culture of Viet Nam.

The festival is held on Ngu Hanh Son, in Danang City, Vietnam.

The Quan The Am Festival consists of two parts: the religious ceremony and the festival itself. The ceremony of beginning sutra chanting (this ceremony is to pray for peaceful country and prosperous people); 

The ceremony of giving alms to the wandering souls (the monks pray the Buddha for peace and happiness to the living and for freedom from suffering to the souls of the death); ; Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue procession.  The Dharma-preaching sessions about Avalakiesvara Buddhisattava are also very interesting.

Several cultural activities bearing the national colors of Vietnam, such as singing folk songs, chess playing, music, painting, carving, lion dancing, classical opera also take place, camping, boat race; art performances,  Light” procession; Night-time Lantern Festival; Several other cultural activities.

Traditional culture of Chut ethnic group

Have you ever heard the name of dish - Poi rice? It is Chut people' s daily dishes. They cook it meticulously, including corn, upland sticky rice, manioc,... Poi rice is one of traditonal cultural values of Chut ethnic group.

Name of ethnic group: Chut (Ruc, Sach, Arem, May, Ma Lieng, Tu Vang, Pa Leng, Xe Lang, To Hung, Cha Cu, Tac Cuc, Ymo, and Xa La Vang)

Population: 3,829 people (Year 1999)

Locality: Minh Hoa and Tuyen Hoa districts of Quang Binh Province.

Customs and habits: Though most Chut live a sedentary life, their villages are quite separated and their houses are temporary. Each lineage has its leader and an altar to worship their common ancestors. Among the leaders of the lineages, those who can win the highest prestige will be proclaimed village chief. Matrimony is still practiced. The Chut have very simple funerals.

Culture: The Chut language belongs to the Viet-Muong Group. The Chut have inherited a rich folk art and culture. The folk songs are called Ka-tum and Ka-lenh, and are very popular among many people. The ancient tales of the Chut are diverse and have various themes. The Chut play pan-pipes and six-hole flutes.

Economy: The Chut are primarily involved in agriculture and they practice slash and burn cultivation. They also practice hunting, gathering, fishing, and animal husbandry. Carpentry and basketry are another means of income generation.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Thousands of pilgrims, tourists travel to Perfume Pagoda festival

The cold weather couldn't keep thousands of pilgrims and tourists away from the Huong Pagoda Festival, the nation's longest and most elaborate annual festival that opened yesterday morning in the northern province of Ha Tay ( Hanoi), Vietnam.
The Venerable Thich Minh Hien rang the bell to officially open the festival at the Perfume Pagoda, also known as the Perfume Pagoda, on the sixth day of the first lunar month. The opening ceremony began at the Thien Tru Pagoda with pilgrims and tourists invited to take part in the incense-offering ceremony. 

Traditional songs and dances took place before and after the ceremony, warming up the festival's lively ambience in the chilly weather. Yesterday proved as popular as the fourth day of the lunar new year, as both days attracted around 40,000 visitors from across the nation to visit the pagoda.

The festival is a traditional Vietnamese Buddhist celebration, lasting for three months, with most activities taking place from yesterday to the 19th of the first lunar month.
However, since the first day of the lunar new year, thousands of tourists and pilgrims have flocked to the sacred land to tour and pray for a prosperous and happy year. 
Ready to satisfy
In 2008, the Huong Pagoda Festival hopes to welcome 1 million visitors. In 2007, around 900,000 visitors attended the festival, sometimes reaching up to 30,000 in a single day. 
To accommodate the increasing number of visitors, to the festival, a system of 45 cable cars was put into operation from 4am to 8.30pm. This is the second year the festival has set up the system.
Despite the massive crowds, visitors can be re-assured that these measures have led to a decrease in the number of traffic jams. The decrease is also attributed to the festival's organising committee having restored and repaired infrastructure outside and inside the pagoda. 
To help pay for the improved service, the festival's organising committee increased the ticket price this year, according to Le Van Sang, vice chairman of the My Duc District's People's Committee. 
Entry fees during the festival this year are VND29,500 per adult, an increase over last year's price of VND22,500, while children's prices rose from VND11,250 to VND14,500. These fares apply to both domestic and international tourists.
Ticket prices for tours of the Huong Pagoda have also gone up to VND25,000 for Huong Tich trips and VND15,000 for Long Van and Tuyet Son trips.
According to Sang, stalls and restaurants have been barred from setting up in front of Huong Tich cave to help cut down on traffic.
To deal with boat traffic, around 3,600 boats, over 600 more than in 2006, were licensed to ensure steady access and fair prices for passengers. 
The organising committee was also looking to improve hygiene issues with strict regulations. Restaurants and stalls were required to put food in glass cupboards and not outside like they did before. 
Further looking to improve their hospitable skills, more than 500 people from the Huong Son Commune went on a training course, learning how to better communicate with tourists, protect their environment and guide tours of the monuments. 
Sightseeing trips to pagodas, temples and caves an the main attractions at the Huong pagoda festival, as well as visiting ceremonies to ask favours from Lord Buddha.
After the opening ceremony, tourists and pilgrims were off to three main tours: Huong Tich Cave Pagoda, Long Van Pagoda and Tuyet Son Pagoda in Huong Son in the historical complex. 
The province of Ha Tay has submitted the Huong Pagoda, located in Huong Son Commune in My Duc District, about 60km south-west of Hanoi, for designation by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site.
Surrounded by vast green rice paddies, the site is a complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich Mountain, among lakes and grottoes.

Source VietnamNews

The terraced mountain of Khau Pha

Farmers in Yen Bai Province are fighting against nature to raise their crops on the terraces of Khau Pha Mountain Pass, where the farming has always been difficult with altitudes of 1,200-1,500 metres.

 The rice terraces of Cao Pha Commune

When the harvest season ends for the farmers in the delta, it is just starting for H'Mong farmers in the mountainous areas, Vietnam. They toil all day long on the picturesque paddies.

Rain is the only source of water for the fields

Family grows rice after the rain in Che Cu Nha Commune

Each terrace is about is two metres high
Farmers have to ride motorbikes to get to their farms
A lunch box
People pull up the young rice plants from the lower fields
Young rice plants are brought to higher fields by foot and motorbike.
Children playing in the field
The rice fields

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Visiting Hue, Vietnam’s last imperial city

Situated on the Perfume River, Hue is a relaxed and peaceful city full of lakes, canals and lush vegetation. Once the imperial city of the Nguyen dynasty, this Unesco world Heritage Site is home to some of Vietnam’s greatest historical buildings and sights. The Nguyen dynasty was the last royal family to rule Vietnam with a dynasty spanning 143 years, from 1802 to 1945.


Thien Mu pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda
Ngo Mon Gate, Citadel

Possibly the most impressive sights within the city are the citadel and the royal mausoleums. Of equal interest is the Thien Mu pagoda, the largest in Hue, and an unofficial symbol of the city. It is very fortunate that these historic sights survived somewhat unscathed during the bombing of Hue during the Tet Offensive in 1968 when much of the city was levelled.

The Citadel

Hue’s glory days kicked off in the early 19th century when Emperor Gia Long began the construction of a vast citadel comprising three concentric enclosures. The citadel bears a striking resemblance to the Forbidden City in Beijing and must have been a sight to behold when completed. Today, only 20 of the original 148 buildings remain.

Ten gates lead into the citadel, but by far the most impressive is Ngo Mon, the principal entrance. The gate itself consists of five entrances: the central one for the emperor, two for civil and military employees and two for the royal elephants. Of the remaining palace buildings, Thai Hoa Palace boasts a spectacular interior containing gold and red lacquers and was where major ceremonies were held.

The Royal Mausoleums

If the citadel were not enough to convince one of the decadence within the royal court, the royal mausoleums surely are. Built in the valley of the Perfume River, these mini palaces are built in beautiful surroundings. Artificial lakes, waterfalls and lush gardens were set out with the three buildings comprising the mausoleum taking pride of place. The main temple was dedicated to the worship of the deceased emperor in question, followed by a stone stele recording details of his reign and finally, the tomb, which is enclosed behind a wall.

There are in total seven mausoleums although the mausoleums of Tu Duc, Khai Dinh and Minh Mang are the most attractive and best preserved. These are easily accessible from Hue by taxi or motorbike. It’s also possible to see the mausoleums as part of a cruise on the Perfume river and if this is the route chosen, it should be possible to see a further three mausoleums.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Equally impressive is the Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the Heaven Fairy Lady pagoda. It is seven stories high and is the tallest pagoda in Vietnam. It was originally built in 1601 after the then governor of the region heard a local legend. According to the legend, an old lady known as Thien Mu sat at the site, rubbing her, cheeks, and professed that the lord would come to the site and build a pagoda to pray for the country’s prosperity.

It’s possible to wander around the site at leisure taking in the calming atmosphere and smell of incense burned by Buddhist worshippers. After removing shoes, it is also possible to enter the temple behind the pagoda and catch a glimpse of the Buddhist way of life.

Imperial Cuisine

Hue has many cafes and restaurants serving both traditional Vietnamese food and for those that have been on the road a while, more prosaic pizza and burgers. The best known Hue dish is banh khoai, a small, crispy yellow pancake that is fried with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts and is served with a peanut and sesame sauce.

A food experience unique to Hue is to indulge in an imperial feast. There are a number of restaurants that offer this. Food in the imperial court had to be both visually stunning as well as delicious. Don’t be surprised if served a bird carved from cucumber. The food was meant to amuse and delight the diner, as well as satisfy their hunger.

While not a bustling city like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, Hue provides

a break from the usual frenetic activity that is Vietnam. Whether taking a cruise down the Perfume River, or renting a motorbike to explore the rice paddies on the edge of town, Hue is wonderful place to relax and experience the quieter side of Vietnam.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Crab Hot Pot in Ca Mau

Ca Mau is an area with many canals so it is rich in aquatic products such as crabs, fish and shrimp. With available materials, local people make many tasty dishes, including crab hot pot.

To make the dish, crabs caught in Dat Mui Hamlet, Ngoc Hien District, Vietnam must be used because the crabs there are very fat. When it is done correctly, the dish has the greasy taste of crabs mixed with the sweetness of dried shrimp and coconut milk and the light sourness of tomatoes with the pungency of red pepper.

(Serves 6)
Crabs: 1.5kg; tomatoes: 5; dried shrimp: 100g; mushroom:50g; chicken eggs: 2; coconut: 1; ½ teaspoon of cooking oil; 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste; rice vermicelli: 0.5kg; salt; fish sauce; red pepper; pepper; eryngium; basil, water morning glory and some other fresh vegetables.

-Peel off the plastron of crabs and clean.
- Whisk the chicken egg.
- Fry dried onion, garlic and tomatoes and then pour the coconut milk and 3 tablespoons of water into the pot. Add crabs, whisked eggs, dried shrimp and mushroom. Add salt to your taste.
- When serving, boil the mixture and serve with rice vermicelli and other vegetables.

If you are interested in exploring Vietnam tourism, you can visit Vietnam travel guide, Vietnam travel agency, Halong cruises, Halong Bay, Halong travel site to know further attractive places.   
Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat - Photo: Huu Thanh

Friday, 19 October 2012

Beauty-spots in Cat Ba Island


 - Taking a ride on a car or train for two hours from Hanoi to Haiphong, then on a high-speed vessel for another hour, visitors will arrive at Cat Ba Island, the biggest island (100km²) out of the 366 islands on the Lan Ha Bay.

 - Right from the moment visitors set foot on Cat Ba gangway, looking afar to contemplate the enchanting scenery of immense sky and magnificent mountains and breathing the fresh air from the sea, visitors will feel comfortable and their tiredness after a long trip will disappear. Surely, visitors want to go on with their journey at once.

 - Visitors should hire a Minsk motorbike, out of 400 motorbikes and cars here, to ride to any place visitors want to visit. First of all, visitors should rent a room in a hotel, because the hotels on this island are often overcrowded due to the ever-increasing number of visitors to Cat Ba Island, although more hotels and hostels are being built.

It is very pleasant to stay in a hotel, whose back leans against the mountain and its face looks towards the sea, and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery around.
Beauty-spots in Cat Ba
 -  Trans-island road: 27km long with many mountain pass, meander cols, slopes, along the sea shore, through National Pack, spectacular array of sea and island scenery.

 - Cat Ba National Park: 15 km to the North - West of the town. This Park covers an area of 15,200 ha, including 9,800 ha of forests with splendid grottoes. In tropical and primeval forests, there is a rich fauna and flora. There are 745 species of plants, including various species of rare wood trees so as Tri Ly, Lat Hoa, Lim Set, Gie Hoa, Kim Giao, white wood.

Kim Giao chopsticks used to be offered to Kings which can cause bubbles and turn itself into red when touched poisoned food. Cho dai tree that can be found in the old forest is endangered specie named in the Red Book, the only other in the world where we can find this tree is Hymalaya mountain.

Cat Ba National Park is home to 20 species of mammals, 69 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and species of amphibians, species of 11 frogs. Particularly, the rarest animals in the world that can only be found in Viet Nam is Vooc (white faced monkeys). Another strange is Ma Tien fruit, a toxic fruit, if a person eats Ma Tien he will die immediately, but the white-faced Vooc can eat both leaf and fruit to feed themselves.

 - Trung Trang Grotto: 15km from the town, close to the trans-island road. There are a lot of beautiful natural stalactites that makes you feel like flying high, visiting the Elysium on earth. The grotto can accommodate hundreds of people.

 - Hung Son grotto: 13km from the town, on the trans-island road. Another name is 'Army Medical Grotto' because in the sabotaged war by America, an army hospital was built in the grotto with capacity of hundreds of beds in the mountain. This structure wrote feat of arms about courage of people.

 - Phu Long Grotto (Cai Vieng): recently found, it is considered more beautiful than Trung Trang grotto. In the grotto, stalactites and moisture steam make us imagine the way to sky, the way to sea, many quintessential vaults, golden mountain, silver mountain...

 - Beaches: Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, Cat Dua, Cat Ong, Duong Danh,... are small rainy, secretive, shaded bathing grounds with fine white sand and clear water. A theme park called 'Palace under the sea' will be built to enable human to directly observe porpoises, lobsters, sharks, sea tortoises, cutlet-fish,.. slowly wandering near red corals.

 - Coming out of the caves and grottoes visitors should spend a little time to contemplate the sunset over Lan Ha Bay. On the golden background of the horizon and the dark blue of the sea, the heaving islets become multiform, the white sea-gulls hover and sea-eagles make circles in the sky, all beautifying the immense and fascinating space, and enchanting the visitors.

 - Cat Ba is also home to Halong Bay cultural relics, the relics of an ancient Vietnamese culture and many archaeological relics from the new stone-age period that were found on Cat Ba.

 - Every year, on the first of April the dragon boats race of district island and of whole nation fishing industry is held on the sea of Cat Ba.
If you are interested in exploring Vietnam travel you can visit Vietnam travel company, Halong cruise, Halong Bay, Halong tours site to know further attractive places.

If you are interested in exploring Vietnam tourism you can visit Vietnam travel agency, Halong cruises, Halong Bay, Halong travel site to know further attractive places.   


Monday, 17 September 2012

Hoa Lư ancient capital in Ninh Binh

Hoa Lư is the legendary ancient capital of Viet Nam. Hoa Lư is located in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lư district, Ninh Binh town, about 150km south of Hà Nội. The old capital was built more than 10 centuries ago under the reign of Dinh Dynasty and Lê Dynasty. It was its capital for just 41 years (968-1009). The capital then was moved to Thǎng Long under the Lý Dynasty (1010).

To visit the ancient capital of Hoa Lư , it takes you 2 hours by bus or a little bit less by car from Ha Noi. Although many centuries elapse, Hoa Lư still exists with many beautiful sites to visit. Coming here, visitors will understand more about the feudal era of the country and can attend many traditional cultural festivals.

With the size of 3000ha, Hoa Lư is protected by a natural wall with surrounding Trang An limestone mountains and Hoang Long rivers. The combination between mountains and rivers make Hoa Lư surrounding very picturesque. Like in capitals of former periods, Hoa Lư host outer, inner and southern citadels. Hoa Lư is famous for the number of palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions that were built by different dynasties. Bao Thien Tue Palace that was plated with gold and silver is very popular with its architecture. There were also two famous temples that were built in the 11th century to dedicate King Dinh Tien Hoang and his successor Le Dai Hanh.

The Temple of Dinh Emperor is located in the main palace with the impressive South Gate, a lotus pond, artificial hills, flower garden, inner triumphal arch, three sanctuaries and a back court. There are also many shapes of trees, animals, cloud, flowers and leaves that are carved out of stone and wood. The Le Temple is 500 meters away from the Dinh Temple. Although the Le Temple is smaller than the Dinh Temple, it has a quite mysterious atmosphere. It has three halls, including a sanctuary, an incense burner and main palace. Especially, archeologists found many remains of ancient architecture and old palace that were skillfully carved. Visitors will be attracted by some beautiful Pagodas such as Ngan Xuyen Pagoda, Nhat Tru Pagoda. These sites are for Vietnamese people to worship and to remember the ancestors.

Many traditional cultural festivals have been celebrated here. The most important one is Hoa Lư ancient capital festival (Truong Yen festival) which last three days, from the 10th day of the third lunar month. This is to memory the Kings of the Dinh and Le dynasties. Many people and pilgrims come here both to worship and attend many entertainment activities such as: performing “Co lau tap tran”, competing in writing Han script, playing chess, performing dragon dance, etc. Hoa Lư is one of important cultural and historical sites of great value in Vietnam.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Hue cuisine with sour shrimp

Any visitor, who comes to Hue and tastes this kind of place, will never forger it.

Like mussels rice, many local can make sour shrimp, but only in Hue, sour shrimp is really delicious. In a past, people make  sour shrimp during home, though right away it is simpler to buy it during a market.  Sourc shrimp can be prepared with any kind of shrimp.

The recipe includes a number of steps that must be performed in a specific order. First, the fresh, clean, and dry shrimp of approximately the same size are put in wine along with dry bamboo shoots, garlic, and chili. The ingredients are kept in a closed container at room temperature for three days. Then the container is put in a cool, dry place. After five or seven days, the sour shrimp are ready.

 During the meal we can put in some more condiment. We will find a very tasty dish with sour shrimp.
 When Hue natives living outside the city return to their homeland, they usually have sour shrimp. Tourists also make sure to buy some jars of sour shrimp before leaving Hue.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Vietnam travel

Vietnam travel

Hanoi’s speciality with green rice flake cake

Hanoi is famous for its speciality green rice flake cakes which are sold in Hang Than street. Hang Than is just among more than 20 culinary streets in Hanoi which has about 70 streets with their first name of Hang.

This 300 metre long street houses more than 30 green rice flake cake shops. The Nguyen Ninh trademark is the oldest and most popular brand for green rice flake cake. The name was established in 1865 by late Tran Thi Luan and adopted it’s current name of Nguyen Ninh in 1928.

There have been 5 generations of Nguyen Ninh making green rice flake cake so far, said Mrs Nguyen Thi Hiep, a fourth generation family member.

As explained, Nguyen means origin, Ninh is called after Yen Ninh village which is now Yen Ninh street, near Hang Than. Therefore, Nguyen Ninh green rice flake cake means the cake originated from Yen Ninh village.

Nguyen Ninh’s secret of making the cake is its pure ingredients without additives and mixture. Green rice flake cake is made of green rice flakes, green peas and sugar. Green rice flakes must be from Vong and Lu villages (in the past) or from rice land of Thai Binh (at present) and green peas are carefully selected in Ha Tay province.

As tasting a green rice flake cake, especially made by Nguyen Ninh, one can experience the full flavour of simple villages, a very different and typical Hanoi speciality./. Cinet

Monday, 20 August 2012

A peaceful life in Vietnam's Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta, Vietnam
A house boat in the floating market

Driving about two-and-a-half hour by bus journey from Ho Chi Minh City, we arrived in the Mekong Delta. Booked a day tour with other tourists from Asia and Europe. Like them, I looked forward to seeing Vietnam’s floating market with my own eyes, itis really beautiful and peaceful.
Upon arrival at our destination, Cai Be, our group boarded a spacious motorboat and cruised along Vinh Long as we headed to the market area. It was different from what I had pictured in my mind.
I thought we would be navigating through numerous small boats filled with various produce. I wasn’t sure if it was because we arrived there late in the morning, but all we saw were houseboats with the produce displayed on top.
The boats were big enough to accommodate living quarters, and each sold a particular product — we saw pineapples, watermelons and sweet potatoes for sale. Our English-speaking tour guide, Mr. Nguyen mentioned that the houseboats have addresses as well to identify what area they're from.
Though I came prepared with my own eco-bag, we didn’t have a chance to go shopping in the floating market. Our guide said that the prices would be somewhat expensive as the people there knew that we were tourists. So, instead of shopping, we just enjoyed sights. Along the way, Mr. Nguyen pointed out the different "san" houses or houses on stilts lining the river's edge.
After a while, we stopped and got off the boat to explore the countryside.

 the bees
Almost rubbing elbows with the bees

A day in the life

I got a glimpse of the pastoral life in the Upper Mekong Delta and it could have been a scene from any countryside in the Philippines. We walked along a narrow paved street and visited small shops where locals sold products made from native materials.
At our first stop, our guide showed us where the store got its fresh honey and even gave us the opportunity to get really close to the bees. We had hot tea with honey and sampled sweet treats on the side such as candied ginger and winter melon. After a short break, we visited a family that made a business out of selling coconut candy.
Like the Philippines, Vietnam  also bounds with coconut trees. We saw the family manually crack a coconut open, grate its meat and get the milk out of it—the candies' main ingredient. Each member of the family has a role and even the kids help out. They make, pack the candies and sell it right there. They even gave out samples to entice tourists.
While walking down the road, we saw a place that had a 14-kilo python in captivity that visitors were allowed to carry and touch. I dared to do so and the reptile just felt like a heavy scarf on my shoulders. Some of the people in our group had a photo op with the snake as well, and even sampled snake wine, which claims to have health benefits and is supposedly an aphrodisiac, too.
Next door was another family business — this time pop rice. We witnessed how they make “popcorn” out of rice grains: a big wok is heated using dried longan as fuel, then the grains hit the wok, where they become crispy and airy. In the Philippines, the snack is known as ampao.

 Creating spring roll wrappers by hand
 Creating spring roll wrappers by hand

Another establishment made spring roll wrappers. Again, there were no high-tech machines but traditional instruments that looked a hundred years old or so were used. The locals made it look effortless, but our guide said it actually takes years to perfect the skill. While there, we were able to taste different variants—one had coconut milk and another had a ginger flavor.
Our tour concluded with a simple lunch at a no-frills resort. Then, we had some time for ourselves and I wandered around the garden while the others relaxed on hammocks. This tour was an eye-opener for me. I really thought, if the Philippines has the same resources, why can not we include such activities in our tourism program as well?. Hope that we take our cue from Vietnam and promote the Philippines along with local livelihoods.