Thursday, 3 September 2009

Vietnamese in the ancient time

1. Origin of the Vietnamese people
Scholars have been constructing many hypotheses on the origin of the Vietnamese people. Some believed that Vietnamese belonged to a group of "Bach Viet" (one hundred clans of Viet) living in a wide region spreading from the delta of the Yang-tse kiang river to the South - south of China nowadays. One of them was the Lac Viet clan whose people practiced fishing and often went over to the sea. Each year, when the north wind came and blew south they crossed the sea to the southern side and sometimes reached the Indonesian islands. In their trips they got acquainted with a kind of bird named "Lac" - a kind of swan - and made it their totem. Their choice explained the name Lac Viet attributed to their clan. Around 333 BC, when Chinese invaded the area south of the Yang-tse-kiang river, the Lac Viet clan migrated to the South and settled in the area where the Melanesians were living and built up their nation, which has become Vietnam.

The hypothesis that Vietnamese were "children of the dragon and grand children of the fairy" has always been cherished by the Vietnamese people through centuries. It based its logic on myths, legends and folklore transmitted from generation to generation. A great number of historians and writers in the past backed this hypothesis in their research and writing. According to it, the Vietnamese took their origin from a bag of one hundred eggs born out by Au Co, a fairy married to a dragon, Lac Long Quan, the king of the Under-sea. The couple was separated sometime after their marriage, and Au Co led their fifty sons to the upland where they built a new nation according to the legend mentioned earlier. Those people were the ancestors of the Vietnamese.

2. Social structure and characteristics of ancient Vietnam
The ancient Vietnamese society was matrilineal and without class. The groom dwelt with his wife's family. Kinh Duong Vuong once married to Long Nu - princess of the under-sea -- had to live with his wife in the under-water kingdom. Lac Long Quan, their son, lived with his mother. When he married Au Co, he would have had to live with her at her dwelling on land according to the custom. But he didn't have this intention so Au Co had to leave him and led half of their children away.

The ancient society was without class; there were no masters nor slaves. The relation between its people was the kinship relation. A system of extended family had been applied and sustained over centuries, from the time the Vietnamese people still lived in tribes to the time they built a nation. They called each other by the role in the family, such as grandfather and grandmother, father and mother, uncle and aunt, brother and sister, even when they didn't belong to the same line of blood. This is a custom that did not exist in other societies.

3. Customs and practice
Ancient Vietnamese used to decorate their body either by painting or tattooing. They were fishermen and had to dive deep into the sea to catch fishes or to look for marine foods. They were often attacked by submarine monsters and complained it to King Hung who advised them to decorate their body so as to make them similar to the monsters' coat and, by doing so, to avoid their attacks. From this time the practice of decorating the body began and ended only in the year 1299 AD under the Tran dynasty.

Ancient Vietnamese had their hair cut short, probably to allow them swimming and living more easily in the sea. They wore short garment with the flap closing to the left, but during festival time they wore a hat made of feathers and a long skirt decorated with strips hanging in the bottom and danced.

Their houses were constructed on piles with the ridge of the roof curved and projected out of the gable on each side. The top of the houses were decorated with figures of birds. Their boats were long and a little curved with the front part raising high and decorated with the head of a bird.

4. Concluding remarks
According to the legends, the old Vietnam territory spread farther to the North into the delta of the Yang-tse-kiang river. This nation was called Xích Qui and its ruler was Kinh Duong Vuong, the father of Lac Long Quan. They later moved south and built a new country named Væn Lang with King Hung the first, the eldest son of Lac Long Quan and also the founder of the Vietnamese nation. The dynasty of Hong Bàng marked a period for the tribe "Lac Viet" to gather and prosper. Those people hold firmly their territory and fight back against any invasion from China. Although the Chinese domination had taken place over one thousand years, it could not subdue them. They continued their own culture and many times rose up against the Chinese administration until the time they got rid of this domination in the year 939 AD in a decisive battle on the Bach ñ¢ng river. The history of Vietnam has long been a history of struggle with the Chinese imperialism, a two-pronged struggle, to avoid annexation and to avoid acculturation.

Today, on the tenth of the third month of the lunar year, Vietnamese celebrate the anniversary of death of King Hung to bestow their gratitude to an ancestor who had educated them and saved them from the threat of extermination from outside invaders.

The ancient folklore of country promote the value of relationships within the family, between fathers and sons, between brothers and sisters, and between husbands and wives. People placed sacrificed their individual rights for the common harmony. Loc Tuc gave up his thrown for the benefit of his elder brother. Au Co was separated with her husband but still kept intact love and feeling. To compare this value to many legendary tales of other countries that are full of hatred and killing within family, one must acknowledge their positive effects on the people.

On the psychological side, the legend of King Hung and folk-tales served as a strong support for the Vietnamese people to get over the complex of being treated as uncivilized as the Chinese often foisted to their neighboring countries. The Vietnamese took their origin from a dragon - the leading of the four sacred animals - and a fairy symbolized by the bird they chose as their totem - a bird called "Lac" or "Hong", a kind of swan or sea bird, whose familiar figure decorated their dwelling.

Even though the legend of King Hung might sometimes be deemed as fictional story transmitted orally over centuries and subjected to possible distortions, it could at least help the Vietnamese to better understand their ancestors. At least, the strong will of their ancestors to overcome the threat of Chinese acculturation merits to be engraved for ever into their collective memory. 1

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Miss International Beauty 2009 - Vu Hoang Diep - Vietnam

Miss International Beauty 2009 - Vu Hoang Diep - Vietnam

Friday, 31 July 2009

Wash Your Hands Too - Swine flu song

[Swine flu song] Wash Your Hands Too (Parody of Wonder Girl's 'Nobody')

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Xa Loi (Sarira) pearls

Xa Loi (Sarira) pearls in Quan Su pagoda - Vietnam. Sarira are generic terms for "Buddhist relics", although in common usage these terms usually refer to a kind of pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped objects that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market is open all day but it is busiest from sunrise to about 9am. The main items sold there are farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh District and neighboring areas. Every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung.

During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes. Sellers do not have to cry out about their goods because their goods can be seen in a distance and their cries would not be heard in the vastness of the river and the noise of boat engines. Small boats that sell beer, soft drinks and wine go among the other boats to serve market-goers and visitors. Sellers tie their goods to a tall pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling.

Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Human Chess

“Human chess” (co nguoi) is a popular game at village and temple festival. The game follows the general rules of Chinese chess. The concept is recognizably similar to Western chess, but with a different-sized board and different pieces, including cannons and guards, each of them marked with a distinct Chinese character.

In human chess, however, the pieces are all people: 32 people in all. One side consists of 16 boys and the other of 16 girls. Each team wears a different colour.

The chessboard is marked by paint on flat ground. Village festivals usually use the yard in front of a communal house or pagoda or a nearby field. Organisers select players plus a referee well in advance. All should be children of families with a good reputation. The referee and the two generals should come from wealthier families so they can treat their players to food. As the selection finishes, the referee convenes the 32 people, describes the costumes, and tells each person how to move as a chess piece. Players may sit on chairs and wear hats if it is sunny. They either wear boards with the Chinese names of their pieces or carry sign poles with the characters. The generals wear traditional costumes. The two contestants who direct the pieces have their own seats outside the board.

In contrast to some other games practiced at festivals, human chess is known for its quietude and delicacy.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Son tinh - Thuy tinh

Vietnamese myths do not just recount what may be called the universal condition. They also have myths to explain their own situation in a tropical and monsoon land, and one such myth is the story of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh.

Son Tinh was the spirit of the Mountain and Thuy Tinh the spirit of the Waters. The king, Hunh Vuong VI, had an extremely beautiful daughter, and he did not wish her to marry just any prince. He consulted with his court and hit upon the idea of sending out a proclamation far and wide to the effect that he was seeking a suitable party for his daughter. Princes came from far and wide but none was considered to be a good match for the king's beloved daughter. Finally, one day there came at the same time two very handsome young noblemen asking for the princess' hand. Upon inquiry and examination, they turned out both to be equally distinguished, talented, and powerful. The king was in a quandary as to how to choose. Finally, he decided to send them both away, saying that whoever turned up the next day first with the proper wedding gifts would be given the princess in marriage.

He was, therefore, given the hand of the princess. Barely had the proceedings been completed when Thuy Tinh, the Water spirit, turned up with his gifts.

Being of a fiery disposition, Thuy Tinh could not accept his defeat. He sought to challenge Son Tinh to a contest to see who was the stronger and therefore more deserving of the princess. But Son Tinh simply ignored him, strong in his conviction that right was on his side. Furious, Thuy Tinh called on the waters of the rivers and brooks to overflow their banks and flood the land, In no time the whole land became a storm and raging sea that rose day by day and hour by hour, ruining all the crops and ravaging the land.

But Son Tinh was imperturbable in his palace in the mountains; all he needed to do was to get his mountains to rise a little bit higher when the waters threatened to flood them. After several days and weeks of trying to overcome his rival by raising the waters, Thuy Tinh finally had to concede defeat and order the waters to withdraw. This happened at the end of the monsoon but Thuy Tinh was never fully reconciled to the loss of the beautiful princess. Every year he tries to reenact the battle and that was how monsoons came to Vietnam.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Vietnam - The Hidden Charm

Vietnam has two World's Natural Heritage sites: Halong Bay and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and 6 World's biosphere reserves including: Can Gio Mangrove Forest, Cat Tien, Cat Ba, Kien Giang, Red River Delta, Western Nghe An.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Con Dao Island - Vietnam

Con Dao Island consists of 14 islands, located some 180 kilometers south of Vung Tau. They form the southernmost point of Vietnam. The largest island, Con Son, occupies an area of 20 square kilometers. Originally a prison for patriots and revolutionists during the French and American resistance, Con Dao Island sheltered brave revolutionary spirits of the Vietnamese people.

More than 22,000 prisoners who dedicated their lives to national independence were incarcerated on the isolated island of Con Dao. Con Dao Island is also famous for its nice beaches shaded with evergreen trees, fresh air, clear blue waters, and primitive forests.

The best time to visit Con Dao Island is from March to June, when the sea is calm.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Share your memory here with our Michael Jackson

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Van Lich’s Coins - Tale

Once upon a time, there lived a merchant named Van Lich. One of the richest men of his generation, Van Lich owned nearly one hundred trading ships, all of which were laden with furniture crafted from solid silver and gold.
Despite, Van Lich’s wealth, he was unhappy. His business forced him to travel a feat deal and, during these trips, he suspected that his wife, the young and beautiful Mai Thi, was unfaithful.
One day Van Lich’s ship sast anchor in a lonely river. A fisherman approached Mai Thi, who was sitting on the prow, and asked her for a quid of betel. Feeling sorry for this poor fisherman, Mai Thi fladly gave him some betel.
Seeing this, Van Lich flew into a jealous rage. When the fisher man had gone, he ordered his wife to leave. Carrying the one bar of gold and one bar of silver given to her by her enraged husband, Mai Thi set off down the shore. She had not gone far when she met the fisherman. Mai Thi sobbed as she told her story to the astonished fisherman.
‘My husband thought that I was in love with you,’ cried Mai Thi. ‘Now he has thrown me out. I would like to become your wife, even though you are very poor. Please, we must try our best to get by.’ Given the circumstances, the fisherman felt that he could not refused Mai Thi’s proposal. He took her back to his tent on the riverside. Every day the man went fishing while Mai Thi stayed home, tending the chickens and ducks. Despite their hard life, the couple was very happy.
One day, it was raining too hard for the man to go fishing. Seeing that the chickens were pecking at the rice basket, the fisherman grabbed his wife’s gold bar to throw at them. Unfortunately, he threw the bar too far, so that it flew into the river.
‘Oh my god!’ screamed Mai Thi. ‘Do you know what you just threw?’
‘No,’ said her startled husband.
‘That was gold,’ said Mai Thi. ‘It’s the most valuable thing in the world.’
‘What?’ said her husband. ‘But I know a place where there are lots of bars like that. I didn’t bring them home because I could see no use for them.’
Mai Thi instructed her husband to retrieve the gold bars. Sure enough, the bars were real gold, and each of them bore Van Lich’s stamp.
In the three years since Van Lich had abandoned his wife, his business had faltered. The final blow came when most of his fleet was sunk in a storm. Although Van Lich’s ship survived, much of his gold was lost. As it happened, much of Van Lich’s vast treasure had somehow ended up near Mai Thi’ tent. With some of this money, the couple built a big house. Mai Thi ordered fine clothes for herself and her husband. While life was easier, Mai Thi felt dissatisfied. In this wealthy seeting, the realised that her husband was uneducated. She encouraged him to go and make friends and learn new skills, but none of the people her husband approached seemed to like him.
‘I don’t know why you’re so stupid that nobody wants to be your friend,’ complained Mai Thi. ‘I bet the only one able to stand your company is the clay statue of the giant guard.’
Upon hearing this, Mai Thi’s husband went to the local pagoda and started talking to the clay statue. When the statue didn’t answer, the became angry and toppled it. He then went home, where he told his wife of his failed attempt. Thereafter, Mai Thi lost all hope of educating her husband.
Shortly after the felling of the statue, the king fell ill. Despite the attention of the kingdom’s best herbalists, the king’s condition worsened. A seer was called in, who told the king that his illness stemmed from the toppling of the sacred statue. Soldiers were dispatched to set the statue upright, but no amount of pulling could cause the statue to budge.
Upon hearing this, the king grew very alarmed. He offered a reward to anyone who cold set the statue upright. Mai Thi approached her husband and asked if he could right the clay statue.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I think I can.’
Sure enough, the fisherman was able to raise the statue. Shortly thereafter, the king began to recover. The grateful king offered Mai Thi and her husband a lot of gold, but Mai Thi refused. ‘Please grant my husband a position in the Feudal Customs House,’ she begged.
So it was that, along with their wealth, the couple gained respect. They build an even bigger house and became very famous.
One day, Van Lich’s ship stopped at the Feudal Customs House to pay tax. Upon seeing his former wife and the fisherman, Van Lich felt terribly ashamed. Unable to bear the thought of seeing the couple every time he passed by this river, he wrote a will leaving all his remaining riches to Mai Thi. Then Van Lich killed himself.
With the King’s permission, Mai Thi transformed the gold left her by Van Lich into coins. These, she distributed to the poor. To this day, if you are very lucky, you might find some Van Lich’s coins.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Ha Long Bay - UNESCO World Heritage

Ha Long Bay (literally: Descending Dragon bay; Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long) is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam including some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest.

Friday, 26 June 2009

R.I.P - The Legend Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 June 25, 2009) was an American vocalist, dancer, and entertainer. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5 and began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group. Referred to as the "King of Pop" in subsequent years, his 1982 Thriller is the world's best-selling record of all time and four other solo studio albums are also among the world's best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Love Paradise - Kelly Chen - Bali Island

It's a sweet song with my Bali trip's pictures...

You're always on my mind
All day just all the time
You're everything to me
Brightest star to let me see
You touch me in my dreams
We kiss in every scene
I pray to be with you through rain and shiny days

I'll love you till I die
Deep as sea
Wide as sky
The beauty of our love paints rainbows
Everywhere we go
Need you all my life
You're my hope
You're my pride
In your arms I find my heaven
In your eyes my sea and sky
May life our love paradise

You're always on my mind
All day just all the time
You're everything to me
Brightest star to let me see
You touch me in my dreams
We kiss in every scene
I pray to be with you through rain and shiny days

I'll love you till I die
Deep as sea
Wide as sky
The beauty of our love paints rainbows
Everywhere we go
Need you all my life
You're my hope
You're my pride
In your arms I find my heaven
In your eyes my sea and sky
May life our love paradise

I'll love you till I die
Deep as sea
Wide as sky
The beauty of our love paints rainbows
Everywhere we go
Need you all my life
You're my hope
You're my pride
In your arms I find my heaven
In your eyes my sea and sky
May life our love paradise

Saturday, 23 May 2009

You don't have to say you love me - Khong can noi anh yeu

It's a nice song with English and Vietnamese voice.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

I dreamed a dream - Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle has wanted to be a singer since she was a teenager. So, she became the successful contestant in "Britain's Got Talent" with the song "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables." She brought us the Hope of Life. I love Susan Boyle...

I dreamed a dream
I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine un tasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

My Tho - Ben Tre Mekong Delta travel

Mekong Delta was formed by sediment deposited by the Mekong River and the process still continues today. The land of the Mekong Delta is renowned for its richness and most of it is under cultivation. Its product includes rice, coconut, sugarcane, fruits and fish. A major activity in the Mekong Delta is boating. It is interesting to tour through the canals by boat to get a close look at the beautiful natural setting of the Mekong Delta

My Tho is the closest Mekong Delta City to Saigon where you will see part of the picturesque natural setting of Vietnamese country. This trip includes seeing a floating fish market, crossing Mekong River by motorized boat, a row boat ride along small creeks to the Mekong river estuary, cruising along the Phoenix Island, quiet villages of Ben Tre Province, seeing the manufacturing of handicrafts made from coconut trees, honey bee keeping farm, tropical orchards, tasting honey, tropical fruit, coconut candy, enjoying Vietnamese tradition music, visiting MEKONG REST STOP on the way back to Saigon.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The mosquito

In Vietnam, mosquitoes are troublesome and even unbearable at certain times of the year.
Every one detests them, but very few know their history and the reasons why these cursed insects buzz unceasingly in our ears and attempt to such our blood. This legend will explain their origin.
Ngoc Tam, a modest farmer, had married Nhan Diep. The two young people were poor but in excellent health, and they seemed destined to enjoy the happiness of a simple rural life. The husband worked in the paddy and cultivated a small field of mulberry trees, and the wife engaged in raising silkworms.
But Nhan Diep was a coquette at heart. She was lazy, and dreamed of luxury and pleasures. She was also clever enough to hide her desires and ambitions from her husband, whose love for her was genuine. The husband supposed his wife to be content with her lot and happy in her daily chores.
Ngoc Tam toiled diligently, hoping to ease their poverty and improve their station in life.
Oneday, Nhan Diep was suddenly carried away by death. Ngoc Tam was plunged into such deep sorrow that he would not leave his wife's body and opposed her burial.
One day, after having sold his possessions, he embarked in a sampan with the coffin and sailed away.
One morning he found himself at the foot of a fragrant, green hill which perfumed the countryside.
He went ashore and discovered a thousand rare flowers and orchards of trees laden with the most varied kinds of fruit.
There he met an old man who supported himself with a bamboo cane. His hair white as cotton and his face wrinkled and sunburned, but under his blond eyelashes his eyes sparkled like those of a young boy. By this last trait, Ngoc Tam recognized the genie of medicine, who traveled throughout the world on his mountain, Thien Thai, to teach his science to the men of the earth, and to alleviate their ills.
Ngoc Tam threw himself at the genie's feet.
Then the genie spoke to him:
"Having learned of your virtues, Ngoc Tam, I have stopped my mountain on your route. If you wish, I will admit you to the company of my disciples"
Ngoc Tam thanked him profusely but said that he of any life other than the one he would lead with her, and he begged the genie to bring her back to life.
The genie looked at him with kindness mixed with pity and said:
"Why do you cling to this world of bitterness and gall? The rare joys of this life are only a snare. How foolish you were to entrust your destiny to a weak and inconstant being! I want to grant your wishes, but I fear that you will regret it later."

Then, on the genie's order, Ngoc Tam opened the coffin; he cut the tip of his finger and let three drops of blood fall on Nhan Diep's body. The latter opened her eyes slowly, as if awakening from a deep sleep. Then her faculties quickly returned.
"Do not forget your obligations," the genie said to her. "Remember your husband's devotion. May you both be happy."
On the voyage home Ngoc Tam rowed day and night, eager to reach his native land again. One evening he went ashore in a certain port to buy provisions. During his absence a large ship came alongside the wharf, and the owner, a rich merchant, was struck by Nhan Diep's beauty. He entered into conversation with her and invited her to have refreshments aboard his vessel. As soon as she was aboard, he gave the order to cast off and sailed away.
Ngoc Tam searched an entire month for his wife before locating her abroad the merchant's vessel. She answered his questions without the least hesitation, but had grown accustomed to her new life. It satisfied her completely and she refused to return home with him.
Then for the first time, Ngoc Tam saw her in her true light. Suddenly he felt all love for her vanished, and he no longer desired her return.
"You are free," he said to-her. "Only return to me the three drops of blood that I gave to bring you back to life. I do not want to leave the least trace of myself in you."
Happy to be set free so cheaply, Nhan Diep took a knife and cut the tip of her finger. But, as soon as the blood began to flow, she turned pale and sank to the ground. An instant later she was dead.
Even so, the light-hearted frivolous woman could not resign herself to leave this world forever. She returned in the form of a small insect and fol- lowed Ngoc Tam relentlessly, in order to steal the three drops of blood from him, which would restore her to human life. Day and night she worried her former husband, buzzing around him incessantly, protesting her innocence, and begging his pardon. Later, she received the name of "mosquito." Unfor- tunately for us, her race has multiplied many times.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

New-Year Writing - Vietnamese culture

According to culture and habit of the Vietnamese, it is believed that the very first day of a lunar year is so important to every new start. If things are in good smooth and people are happy on the first day of a lunar year, the whole year then is always in luck. On that day, people often take time to do a lot of things to wish for yearly luck, among which new-year writing is always paid attention to and reminded to be done to wish for a new year of prosperity.

Custom of new-year writing is often done among scholars. It used to be scholars, Confucian teachers, university graduates, etc to have this habit and it is now students, writers, poets. People normally take a good hour after New Year's Eve to begin new-year writing. This habit is only nominal and symbolic for a new learning in a new year. Some people may write down the dates of new-year writing, but some do compose some works at this moment, some others may write down their wish for a new year of great advantages, good learning, and a good career. Scholars or Confucian teachers used to compose parallel sentences to be hung for Tet.
New-year writing is not a must during Tet festival, however, it has been mentioned for quite a long time particularly on first days of a lunar new year. It is unnecessary to have new-year writing as soon as New Year's Eve, people feel free to take a day or an hour which is considered to be good for this habit on the first day of lunar new year onwards.

New-year writing for great luck - people usually begin first handwritings of a lunar new year with the hope of getting good things and also expressing respectfulness of handwritings and learning as well. This is really a beautiful custom, a significant trait of Tet festival which should be kept and brought into play for later generations.

Hải Lưu

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Vietnamese New Year (Tet)

Vietnamese New Year or Tet is based on the Lunar Calendar. It is from the 30th day of the last Lunar month (December of the Chinese Calendar) to the 3rd day of the first Lunar month (January of the Chinese calendar).

Vietnamese people often come back to their families during Tet although they live very far from their families. They visit the graves of their ancestors and meet other members in their families after they haven't been for a long time.

Vietnamese families have a tray of five fruits (Mam Ngu Qua) on the family altar including banana, orange, kumquat, pomelo and finger citron. Each kind of fruit has a different meaning. Pomelos promise a lucky and sweet year. Banana and finger citron symbolize one's wish for the protection of supernatural powers and ancestors,
kumquats and oranges stand for wealth and success. A southern Mam Ngu Qua seems to usually have custard apples, fig, coconut, papaya and mango. In the Vietnamese language, they are cau, sung, dua, du du and xoai and if these five words are strung together and altered just a bit (to 'cau sung vua du xai') it means 'praying to God rich for enough'. Mam Ngu Qua is a part of the Vietnamese culture and represents peoples' wishes for a lucky or prosperous New Year.

Traditionally, on the 23rd day of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, the Kitchen God (Ong Tao) of every house, who reports to the Jade Emperor about the events in that house over the past year, depart to heaven.

The 30th night of the last Lunar month is known as New Year's Eve (Dem Giao Thua). The first day of the first Lunar month is called Mung 1 Tet. On the morning of the New Year's Day (Mung 1 Tet), people put on new clothes and greet Happy New Year (Chuc Mung Nam Moi)together. Children give the traditional Tet greetings to their parents, relatives, or visitors and get money in a Lucky red bag (Li Xi).

People visit Buddhist temples to give donations and to get their fortunes told. They also visit their relatives, teachers, friends and colleagues during Tet three days. For three days, one takes extra care not to show anger and not to be rude to people.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Da Lat - Wonderful Highland in Vietnam

More than 1,220 meters above sea level, the highland city of Da Lat basks in a region of magnificent lakes, waterfalls, and a 2,135-meter mountain peak to the north. One called the "summer capital".

Da Lat has a mild climate year round (16oC) and is reminiscent of the alpine areas of Europe with its pine forests, rolling hills, and small lakes. The sky in the high plateau is a deep blue. Some of the many lakes in the area are Xuan Huong, Than Tho (sorrowful sighs), Me Linh, Van Kiep, and Suoi Vang (Golden Brook).

Da Lat was founded around 1920 by French physician, Alexander Yersin, who felt cool climate would make an ideal therapeutic retreat for his European patients who suffered from the debilitating effects of the tropical climate.

The area was originally inhabited only by highland ethnic minorities, called Montagnards by the French. Lowlander Vietnamese, however, did not enjoy living year-round in the highlands. They considered the "climate" to be unhealthy because of uncharted jungle, savage tribes, and dangerous wild animals.

As the French began settling these areas, they brought in Vietnamese as servants, merchants, transporters, and laborers. The French built homes reminiscent of alpine cottages and initiated experimental agriculture programs for growing rubber, coffee, and European vegetables.

After 1954, many Vietnamese Catholics left the North and settled in the Da Lat area, and established more experimental farms. The Vietnamese population in the area gradually increased.

In addition to its agricultural importance, the natural beauty of Da Lat soon made it the honeymoon capital of the country. Even now, newlyweds enjoy walking among the gently rolling hills and having picnics on the rocks near the falls or beside the romantic lakes. Strolling or riding horseback around the lake is an invigorating experience.
by Pham Xuan Thao