Aug 28, 2012

Hanoi capital

Hanoi capital
Hanoi is the Vietnam’s capital, one of the major cultural, economical and political centers in the country. It is also the second largest city and has constantly growing population. Being capital of French Indochina more than 50 years, the city keeps the trails of the French colonial architecture and culture. 

Oct 29, 2011

A sweet little mystery in the highlands

If you set off from Hanoi in the early morning, you can be in another world by the afternoon – Dong Van town sits over 1,000 metres above sea level in a green valley surrounded by rocky mountain ranges in the awe-inspiring province of Ha Giang, one of the most spectacular rural destinations in all of Southeast Asia – truly, a far cry from the bewildering heat and hectic streets of Hanoi at the height of summer.

The town is the capital of Dong Van district, one of four districts surrounding the Dong Van Geopark, a karst plateau featuring large tracts of limestone with many fossils of creatures that walked the earth 400 to 600 million years ago.

The plateau’s average elevation is 1,400-1,600m above sea level. The route up the mountains to the town is precipitous and slow-going, but the views of the imposing rocky mountain ranges make the trip a constant pleasure.

Near Dong Van town we came across a group of H’Mong people preparing for a local music contest that was to be held in the morning. Some of them were playing a khen (pan-pipe) and a ken la (leaf-horn) while others were harmonizing their sweet voices.

The town’s old quarter was lit up with red lanterns hanging from the window ledges of houses along every street and all around the market. As night fell, the town took on a wonderfully fanciful light in the midst of the mysterious rocky highland.

The locals always celebrate the full moon nights on the 14th, 15th and 16th of the lunar calendar to preserve and promote the town’s cultural heritage and customs. During these festivals, cultural and artistic activities take place in the old market. Visitors can taste the local cuisine, watch musical performances, or check out some of the traditional handicrafts, and much more.

In the evening, an ebullient crowd of H’Mong begins to gather. Soon there are more than 300 artisans and artists from all corners of Ha Giang province ready to perform. A small stage has been set up for the occasion and there is music and dancing; everyone is happy to be part of the show. We listen to the melodies as well as the sounds of the valleys, forests and mountains, and everyone smiles.

There are 40 houses in the centre of Dong Van’s old quarter, which are most beautiful at sunrise or sunset when the dark grey houses are suddenly brightened by golden sunlight.

The town was built in the early 20th century and, in the beginning, mainly Tay and Hoa people lived here. During the 1940s and 1950s, the Kinh, Dzao and Nung tribes also settled in the area. The two-storey houses are a combination of architectural styles and  there is influence from the Zhongnan region of China. The houses are built with tick earthen walls, dark brown wooden frames and stairs and dark grey Chinese yin and yang tile roofs. Each house has a yard and three-step staircase made from bluish limestone pillars. The houses are designed according to the principles of feng shui, balancing the natural and structural energy that courses through the environment.

By nine in the evening, the old quarter is empty and quiet. The ceremony is over; the winners have been awarded their prizes and almost everyone has wandered off home. I stroll over to the old market which was built in 1920 as a central trading place for local tribes to exchange clothes and tools. At night, the market is closed for business, but open for romance. Some of the young women are beautifully dressed and the young men do their best to woo the ladies by playing their khen or ken la. Leaving the young ones, I step into Pho Co Café, which is located in one of the oldest houses in town; the owners claim it was built in 1890. By a flickering oil lamp I sit sipping my hot tea and gazing out at the street through the faded wooden window bars. I can hear the sound of a khen and a ken la playing in response.

The café stays open till midnight and I am perfectly consent to sit there, soaking up the sense of mystery exuded by Dong Van town. As I walk home through the shadows in the still night, I am already looking forward to the first rays of golden sunlight that will herald the dawning of the day.

More similar posts at Pham An Khanh's Blog

Sep 5, 2011

Tourism connected communities around the world

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2011 under the theme "Tourism - Links cultures" will be held in Aswan (Egypt) on 27 September.
In his broadcast message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "Tourism has made great contributions to the global solidarity, as an instrument of peace, connecting communities around the world. This is also the industry to create more job opportunities, help shorten the gap in wealth, contributing to the economic growth of nations, cultural links and understanding people. "

On this occasion, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is organizing a photo contest on the social networking site Twitter, which focuses on themes that link the culture of tourism. The prize is a trip around Egypt, was awarded the WTD 2011 in Egypt.

Aug 18, 2011

Fifth Ha Giang Sports and Cultural Festival opens

The fifth sports and cultural festival for ethnic minority groups opened in the northernmost mountainous province of Ha Giang on August 17.

The fifth sports and cultural festival for ethnic minority groups opened in the northernmost mountainous province of Ha Giang on August 17.

11 local sports teams and art troupes have registered to take part in different programmes, including shows of traditional costumes of ethnic groups, folk songs, and games.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Sen Chin Ly, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, who is also head of the organizing board said that the fifth Ha Giang sports and cultural festival is a major event aimed at highlighting the cultural traditions and ethnic solidarity movements in the province.

The event also provides an opportunity for them to enhance the spirit of mutual understanding and assistance.

The festival will close on August 20.

(Source: VOV)

Jul 28, 2011

Travelers flock to beaches to avoid summer heat

After a quiet June, the number of domestic travelers keeps increasing in July. Islands, tourism sites and beautiful beaches these days receive more travelers who want to relax on brine.

Choosing nearby beaches

In Long Bien district in Hanoi, many 30-40 seat coaches are present early in the morning of Saturdays and Sundays, which come to pick up travelers to beaches. Two weeks ago, local residents were eager to register trips to Cua Lo, Tuan Chau, Halong Bay and Sam Son beaches. A group of coevals left for Cua Lo last week. Meanwhile, NA, a company located in the district, organized a tour for its staff to Van Don-Quan Lan.

According to Nguyen Cong Hoan, Deputy Director of Hanoi Redtours, the number of travelers witnesses a boom in July. The number of registered tours to the central region and the south has increased by 50 percent. Especially, people now favor the tours to Nha Trang and Da Nang, thanks to many choices with airlines and high quality of services. Meanwhile, those travelers, who choose to travel to the north, regularly register the tours to Quang Binh, Hue and Lang Co.

Tran The Dung, Deputy Director of HCM City-based The He Tre travel firm, said that not many people traveled in June, because their children had to take high school final exams and prepare for the university entrance exams. Therefore, the trips have been delayed until July.

Dung has reported a 20 percent increase in the number of travelers in July in comparison with the same period of the last year. Meanwhile, Vietravel hopes that it will serve 125,000 travelers in 2011’s summer, an increase of 25 percent over the same period of the last year.

The tours to beaches remain the most favorite tours for travelers. However, they tend to go to nearby beaches this summer instead of going farer in order to save money. Travelers in HCM City take short distance tours to Vung Tau, Phan Thiet or Ninh Chu.

The national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines has reported that the domestic aviation market in the first six months of the year, witnessed a 20 percent growth rate in comparison with the same period of the last year. Airlines have all provided more flights to serve the increasing number of tourists. The flights to Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Hai Phong and Hue City have seen the number of passengers up by 30-40 percent.

Con Dao, Phu Quoc islands attract northern travelers

Con Dao and Phu Quoc are now not the choice of southern travelers any more, because of the high tour fees (the lowest rate is 4.5 million dong per traveler for 3-day-and-2-night tour). Meanwhile, the two localities have become the choice of more and more northern travelers, especially when direct flights from Hanoi to Phu Quoc have been launched. Besides, there are also the flights from Can Tho to the island.

The tours to Phu Quoc island (travelers can take directly flights with Air Mekong), including the ones provided by Vietravel (9.8 million dong per traveler for 4-day-and-3-night tour, 4-star resort), by Hanoi Redtours (7.9-8.5 million dong for 4-day-and-3-night tour, 3-star resort) have been selling very well.

With direct flights, travelers, instead of transiting in HCM City and wasting three hours at the HCM City airport, can go directly to Phu Quoc, where they have lunches and walk on Sao beach with white sand and blue sea water.

Nguyen Duy Quang, a business officer of Air Mekong has revealed that the direct flights from Hanoi to Phu Quoc always have the occupied seat percentage at 90-95 percent. In the three months of 2010’s summer, the airline only served 100 passengers who flew from Hanoi to Phu Quoc, while the number of passengers is expected to reach 400 in June-August of 2011.

Meanwhile, Dung from The He Tre said the number of southern travelers to the islands has decreased. In previous years, the firm served 600-700 travelers, while the number is thought to drop to 300-400.