Monday, 18 February 2013

The charming and romantic scenery of Trang An

Trang An located about 3 km away from the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, is a wonderful landscape. Road from Trang An to Ninh Binh is very long and smooth and both sides of the road are the newly planted trees with premature green leaves.
We arrived at Trang An at noon but the atmosphere here is very cool with charming scenery of the majestic mountains reflecting the calm and clean water surface. On waterfront, there are many blue boats making the scenery more charming as a nice picture.
Trang An has nearly 50 large and small caves, but a tour around this area just has to go through 10 large caves.  In these caves, rocks were eroded by water many years ago and it created these lively and colorful stalactites

Each cave has a private name such as  Dia Linh, Nau Ruou, Ao trai cave. That is an amazing experience when visitors sit on a boat to explore these caves. Because you not only sit still but also not tilt from side to side and bow your head very low to avoid stalactites hanging down from the top of the cave.
The atmosphere in cave is very cool and when getting out the mouth of the cave, you will be surprising because of wonderful scenery. Water in lake is very clean and visitors can see through its surface .
Coming back from Trang An, visitors can stop at a roadside to enjoy special dishes: goat meat, “com chay”.  “ Com chay” is very crispy and spicy with light yellow. It is very delicious!
According to the legend, by the end of the 19th century, a Ninh Binh young man named Dinh Hoang Thang worked for a Chinese in Hanoi. He fell in love with the landlord`s daughter but was rebuffed. Hoang Thang came back his home and learnt the secret to cook food deliciously and invented “com chay” and when becoming the owner of a large store, he came back to marriage his lover and her mother agreed.
Another specialty that tourists can not miss when visiting Ninh Binh is goat meat. Those goats are fed on the rocky mountain. Their main food is grass and green leaves. Therefore their meat is very delicious.  I am sure that this special cuisine will make satisfied any demanding customers. 

Vietnam's best-kept secret

Roughly 30km from Phan Rang City in the southern province of Binh Thuan, Binh Tien beach is a hidden gem for tourists who want to discover new experiences and rejuvenate.

Binh Tien beach is a hidden gem for tourists who want to escape the madness of the city.
After you pass over a high slope onto a white sand road, Binh Tien appears in the distance as if a gift from nature.

"Because the road to Binh Tien is only suited for narrow cars, the place is yet to be exploited for tourism. Not many people know this beautiful and primitive landscape," said backpacker Tran Ngoc Diep.
Coming to Binh Tien, you park your vehicle and choose a small cafe under the line of coconut-palms to enjoy the view. Then you can bathe in clear blue water or sunbathe on the soft white sand.

The seaside resort spreads for about 4km and you can swim up to 200m from the seashore.

Binh Tien lures many tourists on weekends, particularly during the summer and on public holidays. Visitors arrive with canvas and a variety of supplies to help enjoy the romantic atmosphere of dawn on the beach.

At 4am, the sky turns pink and dawn begins one hour later. After several minutes, rays of sunlight begin to appear.

"I come to Binh Tien not only for swimming but also enjoying the sunrise on the sea. It gives me a wonderful power," said Nguyen Van Thuan.

The morning sunlight reflects off the delicate dew of the sea to give a silk fibre effect, while a light pink spreads over the sea and sand.

"Binh Tien's dawn is beautiful and very romantic," Thuan added.

The beach houses many rocks of unique shapes
If tourists reach the mountain peak when the sun rises out of the sea, they will be amazed and fascinated by the charming scenery.

"The sea water is very clean and clear with white sand spreading out. Many mountains hide the beach so it is rather quiet. It is suitable for children, old people and young people who wants to go camping overnight," Diep said.

You can also follow coastal trails through the forest to find primitive beaches if you have more time. There you can see a collection of natural artwork on the cliff face, featuring striking images carved by nature's hand over thousands of years.

The final stop is a small stream from the Nui Chua forest which trickles gently towards the sea. When you soak in the clear water and familiarise yourself with a small flock of fish, your worries seem to dissolve into the sea.

If you are tired and hungry after a journey to the sea, Binh Tien will offer you thatched huts where you can enjoy such seafood favourites as cuttlefish, crabs and snails while taking in the fresh sea air.

"The seafood here is tasty and cheap," Diep said.

Near Binh Tien beach, there is a small fishing village located under the shade of rows of coconut trees, while the fishermen here are very friendly and hospitable.

You can follow in the fishermen's footsteps by floating on the sea in the early morning, contemplating the dawn and pulling up a good haul of fish.

At present, Binh Tien has very limited tourism services so you should bring necessary supplies in advance or hire them from the fishermen.

There's something about Binh Tien that tells me my first visit will not be my last.
How to get there:
Setting off from Phan Rang City, you continue travelling along Highway 1A in the direction of Nha Trang to the area which borders Khanh Hoa Province's Cam Ranh City.
You turn right onto a newly built road which surrounded by mountains for about 2km and then you pass over a spring named Suoi Nuoc Ngot connecting the two sea straits in Cam Lap Commune in Khanh Hoa Province and Cong Hai Commune in Ninh Thuan Province

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Vietnamese - Official Language in Communication

Vietnam, S-shaped country, has 54 ethnic groups with different languages. The majority group in Vietnam is the Vietnamese-speaking Kinh and Vietnamese is the official language. Many older Vietnamese are familiar with French or English. Interest in English has been rising, with language schools opening throughout the country.

Like English, Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet, but otherwise the languages are very different. Every word in Vietnamese has only one syllable, and the language is based on tone. There are up to six tones, and what looks like the same word can have different meanings according to the tone used by the speaker.

Tones are high, low, falling or wavering, like notes on a scale. For example, the word ma has six different meanings: "mother" with a high falling tone, "ghost" with a high flat tone, "grave" with a low to rising tone, and so on. In writing, one of five accents (or none) is placed above or below a word's vowel to indicate the tone.

The Vietnamese value modesty and humility about one's accomplishments, and harmonious relations with others. Seeking to avoid conflict in relationships, they often prefer to speak about sensitive subjects indirectly.

Outside of large cities, making direct eye contact when talking to someone is considered impolite; similarly, Vietnamese usually speak in a low tone. Although when shopping the Vietnamese barter over prices, this process is done politely; aggression is considered rude.

The Vietnamese sometimes appear to answer "yes" (dạ) to all questions. However, this yes may be a polite way of saying "Yes, I am listening," or "Yes, I am confused," or "Yes, I do not want to offend." Similarly, the Vietnamese smile can be used to show all sorts of emotions, from happiness to anger or even grief. Strong emotions are shared only with family or close friends. Humour, however, is freely expressed.

Traditionally, Vietnamese greet each other by joining hands and bowing slightly; however, in cities some men have adopted the Western practice of shaking hands. In public, men often hold hands as an expression of friendship. Hugging, however, is reserved for relatives.

English Vietnamese
Hello Chào
Please Xin làm ơn
Thank you very much Cám ơn (bà/cô/ông/em) nhiêù
You're welco
Không có chi / Không dám
Yes/No Dạ/Không
What is your name? Tên (bà/cô/ông/em) là gì?
Friend Bạn

Today, more and more foreigners come to visit this small beautiful land and explore Vietnamese customs and habits, especially they want to know about the diversity of the languages here.

Traditional Ao Dai for Vietnamese Tet

Most Vietnamese people wear new clothes to celebrate Tet, or the Lunar new year, in order to promote a fresh beginning to the year. Although Western-style outfits are more convenient for daily chores, the traditional tunic, or ao dai, reappears each Tet. These tunics add to the festival’s formal atmosphere.

In the past, all ao dai were lined. The two layers of fabric formed a set, or kép(in Vietnamese). On formal occasions, another light ao dai, always white, was worn as an undergarment under the kép to form a triple set of layers called mớ ba. This was the proper way to wearao dai until only a few decades ago. To deal with sudden encounters, such as the frequent visitors who often drop in without notice around Tet, a “hasty”ao dai could be thrown over whatever the host was wearing. From the mid-1950s, the ao dai was simplified and the kép layer eliminated.

For centuries, male and female ao dai were cut similarly, except that the neck of the women’s ao dai was about two cm high, while the male collar measured 3.5cm. The wide, down-curved hem, about 80cm across, hung about 10cm below the knee. Royal’s ao dai were of standard cut but were fashioned in different colors and materials.

Long ago city ladies had their ao dai made from colorful silk brocades and lampas. French influence popularized velvets in shades of burgundy, dark green and dark blue. While town women wore five-paneledao dai, or nam ta, women in the countryside had front-opening four-panel ao dai called tu than. The rural tu than were made from hemp-based fabrics, normally in a brown or brownish-fuchsia color.

The tu than tunics worn by wealthy countryside people at Tet were beautiful,with eight flowing silk strips in front. The inner-most layer featured two strips in the color of a lotus flower, about two meters long and 25cm wide, which wrappered around the waist and the knotted to make a bow in front. Next came the two long ends of a light yellow crepe money belt, and finally a bow and strips formed by a soft green silk belt. The two dark brown front flaps of thetunic were lightly tied under those strips to enhance their vivid colors.

Well-dressed Men

As for men’s ao dai, father Cristoforo Borri, an Italian Catholic priest who traveled through the northern Principality (today’s northern Vietnam) in the 17th century, wrote in his 1631 book “Relations de la Nouvelle Mission des Peres de la Compagnie de Jesus au Royaume de la Cochinchine” that most northern men wore a blackao dai over other layers on most festive occasions. This remained unchanged in Vietnam until recently.

Traditional ao dai pants were moderately wide with a low crotch. Conventionally, married women wore black satin pants with their ao dai. Young maidens and men wore white ao dai pants. In Hue people of all ages and sexes wore only white pants. Hue’s upper-classes of both sexes added tree pleats to their pant’s outer edges so that the pants flared out when they moved. These pleated pants are called chít-ba.

Following the mishaps of history that have marred so many traditions, Vietnam is bouncing back in peace time. With Vietnamese people’s innate pride in their culture, it will not be long until visitors can witness a traditional Vietnamese Tet, complete with authentic and colorful ao dai.