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Vietnam Travel News
Tay Ninh Province reveals the wild beauty of the South

toa-thanh-Dao-Cao-Dai--Tay-NinhComing to Tay Ninh province, tourists have the chance to visit one of the most popular tourism destinations in Tay Ninh Province – Dau Tieng Lake.

Dau Tieng Lake, which is located in Phuoc Minh Commune, 20km from the provincial centre, covers 27,000ha and has a capacity of 1.5 billion cu.m, irrigating Tay Ninh Province as well as neighbouring localities.

Dau Tieng Lake is famous firstly because it is the largest man-made irrigation reservoir in Viet Nam and secondly, given its remote location, for its breathtaking landscape of mountains and mysterious islets. The crystal-like lake provides clean water and a fresh, pure atmosphere that visitors can relax in.

Rising majestically out of the lake, Mount Cau dominates the landscape, covered in a thick primeval forest. Scattered across the lake are a number of islets and the green banks offer inviting camping and fishing spots.

Mt Cau is 198m high and boasts diverse flora and 1,600ha of protected forest. At the top of the mountain stands the Thai Son Pagoda, which attracts many pilgrims at full moon.

Next to the mountain buried deep in the rubber plantation is Cau Nom Lake, where the combination of the clean water and fresh air create a tranquil atmosphere.

The area around the two lakes is a great place for tourists who either want to relax after a hard days work, go camping with family and friends or try out water sports.

However, despite its beauty, a shortage of basic infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants and services mean this is a day trip at most (unless you decide to camp).

From Dau Tieng Lake, tourists walke for about 5km through the rubber plantation and reached Truc (small bamboo tree) Stream, which runs down from Mt Cau into Binh Duong Province's Dau Tieng District.

The name of the stream originates from its source further up the hill in a small bamboo forest.

The first thing tourists see is huge flat rocks that nature had arranged into stairs leading to a shelter for a giant, according to a legend told by local residents.

Passing through the huge shelter was like walking through a stone maze, with millions of small stones arranged in all sorts of different shapes.

The fresh air and cool atmosphere enhanced by the murmuring stream and twittering birds were like something out of a fairy tale.

Truc Stream was a popular destination all year round but it was most beautiful during the sixth to tenth months of the lunar calendar. It was because the area had remained relatively untouched by humans that it retained its wild and natural beauty.

Departing the stream at sunset, my friends promised they would return soon when it was a bit quieter, to enjoy a once in a lifetime naturalist experience.

( Source VNS)

 
Real taste of Vietnam

real-tast-of-vietnamAmerican pottery artisan Lee Middleman and his wife Donnie decided to spice up their holiday to Viet Nam by joining a cooking class at La Residence Hotel&Spa in the former royal capital city of Hue. It proved to be an unforgettable experience.

"Offering cookery classes to foreign visitors is an excellent idea," Middleman told Viet Nam News via email.

"We really appreciated the dishes they introduced us to. It was a joy watching the way the food was prepared, and then later tasting it."

Karen Belcher from Denmark said she particularly enjoyed shopping at the local fishing village in Hoi An.

With a fresh squid in her hand, she could barely contain her excitement. "I feel as if I have lived here for years rather than just a few days."

Huynh Thanh Phuoc, 78, who often hosts foreign cookery students at his home near Cua Dai Beach, said it made him feel younger being surrounded by eager tourists.

"From the time we have spent together I have learnt interesting things about life in their home countries," he said. "For example, Chinese people prefer oily food, French people eat slowly and chew carefully and tend to chat a lot during meals, while Thais and Malaysians prefer spicier food."

It's a bold claim, but few doubt that learning how to cook Vietnamese food enhances and enlivens a visitor's trip to Viet Nam.

( Source VNS)

 
Local tour guides provide an insight into the real Sa Pa
sapaSa Pa is an incredibly picturesque town in the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range near the Chinese border in northwestern Viet Nam, 350km from Ha Noi.

It can be explored almost year-round from March to early December. Vietnamese most like to visit during June and July to escape the summer heat in other parts of the country. Sa Pa is 1,500m above sea level so the weather is quite mild and cold at night.

The best time to go to Sa Pa is on a weekday, as weekenders tend to flock here. However, the famed "love market" only takes place on Saturday nights, so visitors often extend their tour to Saturday to experience it.

Tourists can see many hill tribe people, their villages and rice terraces. The ethnic minority groups generally retain their lifestyles and traditional costumes.

The area's high mountains, deep ravines and lush vegetation rise to the peak of Mt Fansipan – the highest point in Indochina. The combination of fresh mountain air, relaxed ambience, sweeping panoramas and fascinating hill tribes make Sa Pa a must-see destination.

A trek took us deep into a hill tribe region where tourists are still something of a novelty. Staying in village homes allowed us to experience firsthand a lifestyle that has been little touched by the modern world and a curiosity from our hosts just as great as our own. The trekking is fairly strenuous at times but the spectacular scenery and sense of adventure make it worth the effort.

Ta Phin Cave, at the far end of Ta Phin village, is an attractive destination which tourists often bypass without a local guide's suggestion.

The cave requires a guide with a flashlight, and the guide will shine the torch on a variety of stalactites.

Some of the locals invite visitors to go to their homes to show how they live and what they have, and tell them about their families. On following them to their houses, tourists find out how simply they live. The tour guides suggest you to buy the merchandise you like from them as repayment for what they have shown for you.

Local tour guides also lead the trips to the forests and mountains because they know thoroughly the terrain.

City lovers may find Sa Pa is not the place for them as its rich ethnic lifestyle is far removed from modern life. If you expect to go shopping in malls, Sa Pa has nothing to offer. The only way to go shopping is to go to the local market where you can find unique handicrafts, jewelry and fabrics with colourful embroidery. While tourists don't know how to bargain or choose the best items, the local guides are ready to help.

Sa Pa is famous for its "love market" where local young people go to show off and find partners. It is held every Saturday night and provides a unique and unforgettable experience.

The love market is a tradition in the culture of the Mong, Tay and Dao. All the people around Sa Pa live in isolated villages and can only get together once a week during the Sunday morning market. The night before, young men and women from all around come to the love market to meet and express their emotions through playing the khen (pan pipe) and singing according to traditional customs of their people.

The experience of Sa Pa trip is not something that everyone can buy, but adventurous people and those who seek to know the hidden charm of Vietnamese hill tribes living in their old traditional mountain villages cannot miss this place.

(Source VNS)

 
Experts praise Vietnamese folk values

TaiTuCaiLuongDon ca tai tu (music of the talented) should be recognised as an intangible heritage of the country to curb the impact of Western music's influence on indigenous musical forms, according to international scholars at a conference on preservation of the art form.

Speaking at the three-day event in HCM City, Professor Sheen Dae-cheol of South Korea said Don ca tai tu, which began 100 years ago, holds an important position in Viet Nam.

The history of Don ca tai tu is similar to Gagok of South Korea and Nanyin of China, both of which began as amateur music and developed into more sophisticated forms.

Don ca tai tu, however, has retained its original characteristics.

Because it does not require a stage, it quickly became popular in every corner of society and could be performed under a tree, in a house, on a boat, or under the moonlight.

The Korean professor said he was impressed with the musical instruments. Some of them have only one, two or three strings, such as the monochord, two-chord fiddle and the three-string fretless box spike lute.

"The feeling and soul of the Vietnamese people are embedded in tai tu music. The music, which is an invaluable heritage, applies the yin-yang theory of the East," he said.

"The value of gender equality is also mentioned in Don ca tai tu. Since it began, it has always been performed with the participation of both men and women. Everyone considers Don ca tai tu amateur music, but it is not amateur at all. It is noble amateur music. It deserves to be considered as a world cultural heritage," he added.

Dr Joe Peters of Singapore, who noted that Don ca tai tu was important to the Vietnamese people's life, said that video and audio clips on the art form could be found on the internet.

Prof Yamaguti Osamu of Taiwan's Nanhua University said improvisational music like Don ca tai tu appears in other countries, including India and, especially, Africa.

The music is transmitted orally and has no printed musical notation.

More recordings of the music must be done so that documents can be submitted to UNESCO and the art form can be approved and recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of the world.

Gisa Jaehnichen, a professor in the music department at University Putra Malaysia, praised the charm of Don ca tai tu and the instruments used in performance.

The music is traditionally played in informal venues, often in a close friend's home or in a neighbour's garden.

Its standard orchestra includes a dan tranh (16-string zither), a dan kim (two-chord guitar), a dan co (two-chord fiddle), a ty ba (pear-shaped, four-chord guitar), a doc huyen (monochord zither) and a flute.

Professor Tran Van Khe, musician Nguyen Vinh Bao, who are experts in Vietnamese traditional music, and other local artists said they were highly impressed about the knowledge of the foreign experts who spoke about Don ca tai tu at the conference.

Experts said that performing the music on a big stage or during tourism festivals, which has been done in recent years, was not true to its original nature.

(Source VNS)

 
Vietnam Airlines adds more flight for Tet

vietnam-airlinesVietnam Airlines announced Wednesday it would increase further flights on major domestic routes in January to meet the surge in demand for upcoming Tet (the lunar New Year) which falls on February 2, 2011.

The more flights will be available from January 27 to February 14.

The national flag carrier will add 41 flights to the HCMC-Hue route during the periods, bringing its daily services between the business hub of Vietnam and the central city to seven from the current four everyday.

It will also operate 20 additional flights for the HCMC-Quy Nhon, 13 for the HCMC-Pleiku and six for the HCMC-Vinh.

Airbus A320s and A321s will be used to serve extra services.

Vietnam airlines confirmed there were many seats available on the flights from HCMC to Hanoi and Danang until January 26, or more than a week before Tet.

However, tickets for the scheduled flights on the routes later than the date and on the opposite directions one week later after the biggest holiday in Vietnam are scarce.

It suggested passengers to look for seats on night flights and the flights from Hanoi and Danang to HCMC from February 21.

The carrier will sell available seats on the scheduled and extra flights from HCMC before Tet and to this city after this holiday on January 17 with priority given to those passengers on the waiting list.

(Source: Tuoi Tre)

 
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