Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wild Lak Lake

Lak Lake (Lak District, Dak Lak Province) is one of the must-go destinations when one visits Dak Lak Province in particular and the Central Highlands of Vietnam in general. The natural beauty and its fresh atmosphere, elephant riding and dug-out canoe rowing on the lake also attract visitors.
Rowing a dug-out canoe on Lak Lake, one can enjoy its sapphire coloured water, and see fish swimming in the clear water and even hear the sound of a fish catching its prey in a quiet space. The serene ambience and the idyllically glassy water make one forget all the worries of daily life.

Riding an elephant to cross the lake also amazes tourists. Each elephant often carries two tourists and a mahout. On the elephant’s back, it seems like being in the middle of an endless lake. This is also a combination of tourism and wildlife conservation as elephants in the Central Highlands are endangered. 
A dug-out canoe crosses Lak Lake. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

  The pier for dug-out canoes at Lak Lake. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tết 2015 in Hanoi (the Year of the Goat)

A good luck wish for
the New Year
New Year decoration at
 a shopping mall in Hanoi
It has been six years since my last Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) celebration in Hanoi as I often traveled in other cities of Vietnam and abroad during the holiday. This year we have a long holiday (9 days) so it is a good chance for our family reunion. I spent the week before Tết learning to drive a car. This was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed learning this new skill. I found a private instructor and he often arranged another learner going with me, so that we could share the cost. Our driving lesson lasted 5 hours every morning and it cost us USD 10 per hour. However, some days I drove by myself under instructor's guidance and we traveled over 130km on different roads. The week before Tết is always the busiest time of the year. The road is very crowded and the traffic is unorganized at times. On the first day of my driving lesson I had to drive on a busy highway. I still remember that day as I drove like a drunk, sometimes moving toward left side, sometimes toward right side. Every day we drove to a driving course outside Hanoi which is quiet comparing with other sites where 20 cars may practise at the same time. However, we only practised there for an hour then back on the road again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recipe: Chem chép nướng mỡ hành – Vietnamese grilled mussels

Recipe: Chem chép nướng mỡ hành – Vietnamese grilled mussels

A very quick and easy recipe but the final dish can really impress.

Video by: Helen
Chanel Youtube:

  • 1 kg mussels 2.2 lb (eg. NewZealand Greenshell)
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup spring onion chopped
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or 2 tsp fish sauce)
  • 1 tsp tapioca/corn starch
  • 1 tsp chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger julienned
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp crush peanuts
  • 4 tbsp cripsy fried shallot
  • 1 wedge of lime

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tet dishes offer taste of past New Years

Taste of Tet:A tray of Tet dishes. — VNS Photos Hoang Ha.

Tet dishes have special significance as they reflect the Vietnamese tradition of each family member expressing their personal progress, happiness and professional prosperity through the tray of dishes.
But more importantly, children and grandchildren get a chance to sit with their parents and grandparents, no matter which part of the world they have returned from, and reminisce about old stories from their childhood and greet each other a Happy New Year.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Phong Dien – attractive with natural beauty and cuture

Phong Dien District, considered as the green lung of Can Tho City, is famous for “Gian Gua” (a giant area of gua trees), “Lung Cot Cau” and “Bung Da Noi” monuments. Travel tour to Phong Dien is really attractive for natural and cultural value of it.

Phong Dien – attractive with natural beauty and cuture
Visit Phong Dien with lush garden fulled of fruit

Travel to Phong Dien Districts, visitors only have to drive along the National Road 923 from the city to Phong Dien for around 10 kilometers, where they will have to go on a wharf  across the Can Tho River. This is an ideal tour in Vietnam  for tourists.
Passing through farmlands and  lush gardens, there will appear a giant area of “gua” trees in two sides of the road. Gian gua trees are about six meters high. These trees’ roots and branches knit together so well that people cannot identify which ones are roots and which are branches. And most visitors are amazed at the spectacular scenery of Gian Gua which covers about 3,000 square meters.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Au Tau Gruel - from a Toxic Buld to a Specialty

There is something called Ha Giang interest containing enjoying au tau gruel, contemplating imposing mountains and chatting excitedly with the beautiful Mong girl in the market. The person who has not experienced this interest yet is considered never to visit this mountainous region before.

Ha Giang has a specialty that none of other places can have: au tau (ấu tẩu) gruel. Au tau is a type of wild bulb, looks similar to bulb of caltrop in the delta region that has hard, black, sharp cover.

Au Tau Gruel

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Journey to Vi-Giam Folk Singing Region

On November 27, 2014, in Paris (France), Nghe Tinh Vi-Giam folk singing was officially recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. It is Vietnam’s ninth intangible cultural heritage honoured in the international arena.
         Vi-Giam folk singing is two ways of singing without accompaniment which have been created and handed down by people in Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces during their production and daily activities. People sing Vi-Giam songs while they lull their child to sleep, work in the fields, row a boat, weave cloth or husk rice. So the singing is often named after Jobs or activities such as Vi Phuong Vai (fabric guild), Vi Phuong Non (conical hat guild), Vi Phuong Cui (wood guild), Vi Treo Non (climbing the mountain), Vi Do Dua (rowing the boat), Giam Ru (lulling), Giam Ke (reciting) and Giam Khuyen (advising). These two ways of singing are usually performed alternately, hence they have the name Vi-Giam.»
Vi-Giam folk singing has an extremely strong vitality. It not only existed in the past but has constantly developed in the hearts of people in Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces (Nghe Tinh). That’s why people in these provinces have a famous saying, “only when people here no longer have their voice will Vi-Giam folk singing be lost.”

Soon after Vi-Giam folk singing was officially honoured by UNESCO, we went to Nghe An Province, a “Vi-Giam singing region” to learn about the special features of this type of folk singing.

At 6am on a very cold winter day, we left Hanoi to begin our journey to the “Vi-Giam region”. Our first destination was Kim Lien Commune in Nam Dan District, Nghe An Province, the native land of our great President Ho Chi Minh. This place is considered one of the areas having the most developed Vi-Giam singing movement and is also the cradle of the Vi Phuong Vai singing, one of the famous tunes of the Nghe Tinh Vi-Giam.

We were received by Trinh Hung Minh, a cultural cadre in Nam Dan District. Being a cultural cadre, Minh composed lyrics of most Vi-Giam songs for Vi-Giam clubs in the region. He led us to a hundred-year-old house in Kim Lien Commune where the commune’s Vi Phuong Vai Club with nearly 30 members have regular activities.

Tran Cong Son and Pham Thi Nha, members of Nam Thanh’s Vi-Giam Club in Nghe An Province sing a
Vi-Giam song at an old house in Nam Thanh Commune  where the club’s members
have regular activities. Photo: Trong Chinh/VNP

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