Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

Inaugurated in 1971, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is the biggest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. Built in modern style, but the structure draws its inspiration from traditional Vietnamese culture and a touch of Japanese architectural style. The pagoda features a vast sanctuary and an eight-storey tower. On the first and fifth of lunar months, believers throng the pagoda to pay their respects, make offerings and pray for blessings.

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mũi Cà Mau - the southernmost point of Vietnam

On the Cà Mau cape
The words mean "The national
 trig point GPS 0001"
26 September 2009 - After traveling for 2 hours by plane from Hanoi to Cần Thơ, 4 hours by bus from Cần Thơ - Sóc Trăng - Bạc Liêu - Cà Mau and then 2 hours by water taxi, I reached the Cà Mau cape (Mũi Cà Mau), which is the southernmost point of Vietnam. This is one of my dreams that came true. As some of you have not been to Vietnam, let me explain a little bit about Vietnam. The country looks like an "S" shape. It borders with China in the north, Laos and Cambodia in the west and has a long coastline (3260km). The northernmost point of Vietnam is the Nho Quế river which runs between steep mountains. The other side of the river is China and on our side, there is Xéo Lủng village where about 100 H'mong ethnic people are living. Only soldiers in charge of border guarding make patrol in this area and it often takes them one or two days to go along the border line. We travelers are not allowed to reach this sensitive area. The national trig point that we can visit is placed at Lũng Cú near this area (see the link below).

The southernmost point of Vietnam is the Cà Mau cape. Every year the cape naturally extends about 80-100m into the sea through deposits of sand. Our guide joked that the northernmost point of Vietnam looked like a conical hat, while the southernmost point looked like a big toe.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Unusual foods from Central Vietnam

To make it, get the intestine of triggerfish or tuna, ensuring it is large and fresh.
Among them are fermented fish intestine and fermented squid

Unusual foods from Central Vietnam
 
Fermented squid eaten with boiled pork, herbs and vegetables
Central Vietnam may be a barren land but it has given the country many delectable food items.
Among them are fermented fish intestine and fermented squid.
There are some kinds of fish whose intestines too are delicious. Tuna, for instance. But normally you would expect the intestine to be cooked and eaten just like the flesh. But, strangely, the intestine is turned into a delightful paste in Binh Dinh Province.
To make it, get the intestine of triggerfish or tuna, ensuring it is large and fresh.
It is not necessary to wash it because it is not dirty and does not contain any toxic substance. But remove the gall bladder to make sure the paste is not bitter. With a sharp knife make a delicate cut to drain the viscous substance inside.
Then cut it into small pieces, put in a container or glass jar, and add salt, with one portion of salt for two portions of intestine. Cover the jar tightly and put it in the sun for three to seven days. The intestine shrinks and becomes a paste.
Fifteen days later, after soaking up the salt, it produces a dark liquid. It takes another two to three months to get the extract, which no longer smells fishy. Throw away the intestine and use only the thick sauce.
It is tasty and fragrant, delicious when eaten with hot rice, vermicelli, bánh hỏi (fine rice vermicelli), or bánh cuốn (steamed rice rolls).
To make it even tastier, put a pan over low heat, add some oil and chopped garlic for fragrance, and then the sauce. Stir it well and add some sugar and seasoning to get a greasy dark sauce that smells good. You can add chilli to make it spicier.

Fermented squid
Cuttlefish paste is made in a similar manner. Choose fresh fish with firm flesh, and wash but not clean its intestine.
To prepare the paste, a specialty of Quang Ngai Province, mix one bowl of salt with three bowls of the intestine, mix well, and put in a container.
It ferments and usually turns black because of the internal ink bag. It is advisable not to discard the bag because locals think it is the extract of the squid. If it is removed, the fermented squid turns lighter but also less tasty.
The fermented squid can be eaten raw, but the texture is somewhat tough. So people often chop it into small pieces and put it in a bowl of chopped ginger, chili, and garlic. Then, add some chopped pineapple and one will have delicious sauce. It is eaten with hot rice and herbs and vegetables.
If you don’t fancy raw fermented fish intestine or fermented squid, add pork belly and braise to get a delicious dish.
Mix the pork belly with the paste, add some seasoning and sugar, then put in a pan over low heat. Braise until the meat soaks much of the paste and the latter turns thicker.

By Nguyet Anh, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the July 27th issue of our print edition, Vietweek

Source: vietnamtourism.org.vn

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sacred Yen Tu Mountain

For over 2,000 years of Buddhism in Vietnam, the famous name of Yen Tu Mountain has been associated with the name and career of Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong who founded the Truc Lam Zen sect bearing the typical Buddhist culture of the Vietnamese people. This “sacred land” is the “capital” of Buddhism of Dai Viet (the old name of Vietnam). With the unique landscape, architecture, culture and history, Yen Tu Relic and Landscape Complex has been recognised as a special national relic and a dossier is being prepared to submit to UNESCO for its recognition of the complex as a World Heritage Site.
Visiting the Buddhist sanctuary

On an early sunny day of May we made a pilgrimage to the Buddhist sanctuary on Yen Tu Mountain in Quang Ninh Province, where more than 700 years ago, King Tran Nhan Tong left his royal palace to lead an ascetic religious life and founded the Truc Lam Zen sect with a unique Buddhist culture of the Vietnamese people.
Yen Tu Relic and Landscape Complex consists of three groups:

- Yen Tu Historical Relic and Landscape Area (Uong Bi City, Quang Ninh Province)
- The Area of Historical Relics of the Tran Dynasty in Dong Trieu (Dong Trieu District, Quang Ninh
Province)
- The Western Yen Tu Relic and Landscape Area (Yen Dung, Luc Nam, Luc Ngan and Son Dong Districts, Bac Giang Province)

History says that King Tran Nhan Tong (1258 - 1308) who led the country to victory over the powerful Mongolian army of the Yuan Monarchy in two wars in 1285 and 1287 left his royal palace to go to Yen Tu Mountain to lead an ascetic religious life on a day in late 1299. This was an unprecedented event in the history of Buddhism in Vietnam. He founded the Truc Lam Zen sect and took the name Truc Lam Dai Dau Da. Later, people reverently called him “Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong”.

Every year, from the 10th of January according to the lunar calendar and through three spring months, thousands of visitors from everywhere flock to Yen Tu Mountain to attend the Yen Tu Festival to commemorate Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong, worship Buddha and contemplate the scenery in spring.

According to Venerable Thich Thanh Quyet, who is Head of the Management Board of the Buddhist Shangha in Quang Ninh Province and verger of Dong (Bronze) Pagoda on Yen Tu Mountain, in the initial days of leading a religious life, apart from practicing and studying the Buddhist tenets to disseminate Buddhist dharma, Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong also ordered the construction of a system of religious architectural works comprising pagodas, temples and towers of special architectural and artistic value, such as Dong, Bi Thuong, Suoi Tam, Cam Thuc, Lan, Giai Oan, Hoa Yen, Mot Mai, Bao Sai and Van Tieu Pagodas, and Hue Quang and Hon Ngoc Tower Gardens.


The statue of Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong in a meditative pose, 138 tonnes in weight, is the largest copper statue in Vietnam.  
Dong Pagoda at the peak of Yen Tu Mountain, 1,068m above sea level, has been recognised as
“a bronze pagoda  on the highest mountain in Asia” by the Asian Record Organisation. Photo: VNP’s file


Dong (Bronze) Pagoda was built in the Post-Le Dynasty (the 15th century).
It was cast with pure copper and is 3m high, 12m2 wide and weighs 60tonnes. Photo: Hoang Ha

Reverend Thich Van Phong chairs a ceremony at Dong Pagoda. Photo: Hoang Ha
Reverend Thich Khai Thien, verger of Dong Pagoda on the peak of Yen Tu Mountain. Photo: Hoang Ha
Hoa Yen Pagoda built in the Ly Dynasty (the 11th century) is the main one in the system of pagodas in Yen Tu. Photo: Trong Chinh

Mot Mai (one roof) Pagoda is located mid-mountain with its main roof half hidden in the mountain. Photo: Trong Chinh/

All the statues and worshiping objects in Mot Mai Pagoda were made from white stone
with an average size of 34-62cm and date back hundreds of years. Photo: Hoang Ha


The vestige of an ancient pagoda of the Truc Lam Zen sect. Photo: Trong Chinh
Bohi tree leaf-shaped bricks and...


Patterns are imbued with imprints of the Truc Lam Zen sect in Thien Dinh Tower. Photo: Hoang Ha

Over time and through the historical vicissitudes, Yen Tu still retains a gigantic treasure of Buddhist culture of the Vietnamese people from 700 years ago with dozens of pagodas, hundreds of temples and thousands of ancient precious relics which contain invaluable spiritual and ideological values of the Truc Lam Zen sect and the splendid culture of the Dai Viet (13th – 15th century).

The first destination of our pilgrimage was Giai Oan (Exoneration) Stream where legend has it that many imperial concubines and beauties committed suicide because they could not advise King Tran Nhan Tong to abandon his religious life to return to the palace. Feeling pity for them the king had a pagoda built to absolve them, thus the stream has the name Giai Oan.

We continued climbing up 500m higher, and then walking along a path shaded by green pine trees and reached Hue Quang Tower Garden. It is the place where a tower with the statue of Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong inside is situated. The statue is 62cm high and made of marble, featuring a monk in a meditative pose.

Near Hue Quang Tower Garden is Hoa Yen Pagoda which was built during the Ly Dynasty (the 11th century). Above Hoa Yen Pagoda there are Bac and Vang Waterfalls with cool and pure water all year round. We went up on the stone steps and visited the pagodas with many traces which have been recorded in historical books. Finally, we reached the top of Yen Tu Mountain at a height of 1,068m above sea level where Dong Pagoda is. This is a unique and incomparable pagoda which has been recognised as “a bronze pagoda on the top of the biggest mountain in Asia” by the Asian Record Organisation.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Official Stance of Vietnam on its Sovereignty over Hoang Sa Archipelago

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam recently released a document about Vietnam’s official stance on its sovereignty over Hoang Sa Archipelago. Vietnam Pictorial would like to introduce to readers to the whole document.

Vietnam sovereignty over Hoang Sa Archipelago

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam rejects as completely unfounded, in fact and in law, China’s sovereignty claims over the Hoang Sa Archipelago (which China calls “the Xisha islands”, also known as the Paracel Islands) in the annexes to the letters dated May 22, 2014 and June 9, 2014 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations as contained in documents A/68/887 and A/68/907 respectively. Vietnam affirms that the Chinese claims have no legal or historical foundation.

Historical documents are not in accord with China’s claims of sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel Islands)

China has, in its recent communications, referred to some documents as historical evidence to assert the so-called “sovereignty” of China over the Hoang Sa Archipelago of Vietnam. However, these “documents” cannot be authenticated, lack accuracy and have been interpreted by China in an arbitrary fashion. The documents referred to by China do not by any means prove that China established sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago when this territory was terra nullius. Historical records, by contrast, show that China understood that its sovereignty did not extend to the Hoang Sa Archipelago.

For example, in the last decade of the 19th century when the ships Bellona and UmejiMaru sank in the Hoang Sa Archipelago and were looted by Chinese fishermen, the Chinese authorities of Guangdong Province of China argued that the Hoang Sa Archipelago was abandoned islands which did not belong to China. The archipelago neither was administratively attached to any district of Hainan of China nor fell under the responsibility of any Chinese authority. China, on these grounds, refused to take responsibility for the incident.

In contrast, Vietnam has publicly provided authentic historical materials proving that Vietnam established its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago when the islands were terra nullius. Since at least the 17th century, the Nguyen dynasties of Vietnam organized activities to exploit resources on islands of the Hoang Sa Archipelago, undertook maritime measurements and recorded navigation routes to ensure the safety of navigation by foreign vessels through the waters of Hoang Sa Archipelago. These activities were well recorded in official documents issued by the Vietnamese dynasties, which are still archived in Vietnam.

After France and Vietnam had signed the Protectorate Treaties of 15 March 1874 and 06 June 1884 respectively, France, on behalf of Vietnam, continuously exercised Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago and protested against China’s infringements. France conducted many activities to exercise sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago, including building and operating lighthouses and meteorological stations, establishing administrative delegations responsible for the archipelago attached to Thua Thien Province (Annam), and granting birth certificates to Vietnamese citizens born in the archipelago. In 1909, the exploratory mission conducted by Commander Li Zhun of Guangdong of China violated the sovereignty well established by Vietnam over the Hoang Sa Archipelago and effectively exercised by France on behalf of Vietnam. France, on behalf of Vietnam, protested against China’s intrusions upon the Hoang Sa Archipelago and reaffirmed that sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago was well established by Vietnam. In response to China’s claims over the Hoang Sa Archipelago, France requested China to resolve the issue by international arbitration (French Note Verbal dated February 18, 1937 addressed to China), but China refused.

In 1946, the Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek, taking advantage of the situation at the end of the Second World War, illegally intruded upon Phu Lam (Woody) Island of the Hoang Sa Archipelago. In 1947, France protested against this illegal intrusion and requested that the two parties negotiate and settle the issue through third party adjudication, which the Republic of China again refused. The Chiang Kai-shek regime later withdrew from Woody Island.


China illegally installs its Haiyang-Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf
 and mobilises many kinds of military vessels to protect its oil rig. Photo: Cong Dinh – Huu Trung – VNA

Chinese marine police vessels besiege a Vietnamese fisheries surveillance vessel. Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper
The Chinese marine police vessel 21101 fires high-pressured water cannons
 at the Vietnamese fisheries surveillance vessel 768. Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper

The Chinese marine police vessel 46001 rams a Vietnamese marine police vessel. Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper

China’s aircraft flies right above the Vietnamese law enforcement vessels
 to intimidate and threaten them. Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper

Chinese rock ships guardian appears in the sea area where
China illegally installed its Haiyang-Shiyou 981 oil rig. Photo: Tuoi Tre Newspaper

International conferences did not transfer the Hoang Sa archipelago to China

Before and after the end of the Second World War, the issue of sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago was put on the agenda of a number of international conferences. The Cairo Conference held between November 22 – 26 1943, with the attendance of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Republic of China President Chiang Kai-shek, adopted the Cairo Communiqué aimed at eliminating Japanese administration over all Asia-Pacific islands seized by Japan since the First World War in 1914 and returning to China Chinese territories under Japanese occupation, including Manju, Taiwan and Penghu. Chiang Kai-shek who represented China at the Conference said nothing about the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes.

The Potsdam Conference from 17 July to 2 August 1945 with the attendance of the leaders of the U.S., Great Britain and China issued the Potsdam Declaration reaffirming the Cairo Communiqué. Chiang Kai-shek, the representative of China at the Conference, again made no mention whatsoever of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes.

The San Francisco Peace Conference on September 4 – 8, 1951 was attended by representatives of 51 countries, including Viet Nam as a member of the French Union. The Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam Tran Van Huu participated in the conference as Head of the Vietnamese Delegation. The Conference addressed the issue of devolution of a number of territories in the Asia Pacific region. At the Conference, the Head of Delegation of the Soviet Union, Mr. Andrei A. Gromyko, put forwards a proposal on behalf of China containing 13 items, among which was Japan’s recognition of the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China over some islands in the East Sea (South China Sea), including the Hoang Sa archipelago. With 46 votes against, 3 votes in favour and 2 abstentions, the Conference rejected the proposal by the Delegation of the Soviet Union.

Immediately after that vote, on September 7, 1951, addressing the Conference, the Head of the Vietnamese Delegation Mr. Tran Van Huu reaffirmed Vietnam’s long standing sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes. None of the 51 participating countries protested against that confirmation by the Vietnamese Delegation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over these Archipelagoes.

The Geneva Conference in 1954 on the restoration of peace in Indochina stated that the parties concerned would respect the independence and territorial integrity of Vietnam, which included the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes then under the administration of French and Vietnamese forces. Having been a participant at the Geneva Conference, China is well aware of this fact and must respect the international instruments adopted at the Conference.

Article 1 of the Paris Agreement in 1973 clearly stated that all countries must respect the independence and territorial integrity of Vietnam. At that time, the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes were under the administration of the Republic of Vietnam and constituted an integral part of Vietnamese territory.

In January 1974, China used military force to occupy the entire Hoang Sa Archipelago. The Governments of the Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam issued statements to express their position and protest against China’s action. The Government of the Republic of Vietnam requested the United Nations Security Council to hold an urgent meeting on China’s use of force. Under the international law of territorial acquisition, the use of force to occupy a territory cannot create territorial title.

China violated the principle of refraining from the threat or use of force under international law and therefore could not establish sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago.

China illegally invaded the Hoang Sa Archipelago twice. Taking advantage of the withdrawal of France from Vietnam, in 1956 China invaded and occupied the eastern part of the Hoang Sa Archipelago. This was the first ever standing occupation of China anywhere in the Hoang Sa Archipelago which elicited strong protests from the Republic of Vietnam. In 1959, an attempt to land on the western part of the archipelago made by Chinese soldiers disguised as fishermen was smashed by the forces of the Republic of Vietnam. Eighty-two Chinese “fishermen” were captured. Both these invasions occurred after the sovereignty of Vietnam over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes had been reaffirmed, without any protest, at the above-mentioned international conferences. In 1974, taking advantage of the war in Vietnam, China attacked and seized control over the Hoang Sa Archipelago from the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. This was the first time ever that China obtained full occupation of the Hoang Sa Archipelago by force.

Under international law, the use of force to occupy the territory of another sovereign state is null and void and can never be the basis for a claim of sovereignty. Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago therefore continues and is not displaced by China’s occupation by force.

The Memorandum of China on May 12, 1988, an official document of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also clearly asserted the principle of international law that “aggression cannot award sovereignty” over a territory. No country in the world recognizes China as sovereign over the Hoang Sa Archipelago.

 
 The international and domestic community has raised their voice to protest against China’ illegal acts.
In late June, nearly 100 domestic and foreign delegates, scholars and researchers from the US, Russia, France, Belgium,
Canada, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines participated in an internal conference
entitled “Hoang Sa-Truong Sa: Historical Truth” held in Da Nang. Photo: VNA



Many international scholars express their deep concern over China’s acts when
they inspect Vietnam’s fishing boat DNa 90152 which was sunk by China’s vessel. Photo: VNA

Together with struggling against China’s illegal acts in the field using peaceful means
in line with international laws, Vietnam gives out many historical and legal evidences
proving Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes. Photo: VNA

The Carte de I’s Asia Map drawn by Homann Heirs in 1744 is one of many ancient maps of western countries
and China that show the fact that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes belong to Vietnam. Photo: VNA


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vietnamese Crispy Dumplings

Vietnamese Crispy Dumplings

This Bánh has many names in different parts of Vietnam: Bánh gối as it resembles a pillow, Bánh xếp as how it is folded, and Bánh quai vạc as it looks like the handle of an ancient bronze cauldron.


Video by: Helen
Chanel Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HelenRecipes

Full recipe at (Xem cong thuc day du tai) http://danangcuisine.com/?p=3346
Items in my kitchen and pantry http://danangcuisine.com/store/
Ingredients:
*For the wrapper*
300 g Gyoza skin (1 pack 10.5 oz), OR
270 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150 ml water
*For the filling*
500 g minced pork
50 g glass noodle, soaked in warm water 5 mins and chopped
15 g woodear mushroom, (0.5 oz) soaked in warm water 5 mins and minced
2 tbsp shallot or white part spring onion, minced
1/2 cup carrot, shredded/minced
salt, sugar, pepper, stock powder to taste
12 quail eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and halved

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chinese jet encroaches VN airspace over illegal oil rig

Chinese jet encroaches VN airspace over illegal oil rig

Up to 115 Chinese vessels of all kinds, including five battleships, were also present around the rig, which was illegally positioned in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in early May

HA NOI (VNS) — The Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance Department yesterday reported that a Chinese jet fighter made several circles above Vietnamese law enforcement ships operating near the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig that has been illegally placed in Viet Nam's waters.
China also sent another aircraft to the rig site. The aircraft looped over Vietnamese ships at an altitude of about 1,500m from 9:00 to 9:05 and then got closer to the ships from 12:30 to 12:40 at the lowest height of only 500m before leaving.
At the same time, up to 115 Chinese vessels of all kinds, including five battleships, were also present around the rig, which was illegally positioned in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in early May, according to the department.
The ships aggressively prevent Vietnamese vessels from approaching the rig to perform communications work to demand China immediately remove the rig from Viet Nam's waters.
Facing aggressive harassment from the Chinese side, Viet Nam's coast guard and fisheries surveillance ships have maintained their operations about 10 nautical miles from the rig.
Vietnamese fishing boats are continuing normal activities about 42 nautical miles from the rig despite the violent disturbance of a large fleet of Chinese fishing vessels backed by two coast guard ships and two auxiliary ships.

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