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Generation 8X roughs it

In Viet Nam, phuot travellers are adventurers and explorers who like travelling to mountainous areas, where normal Vietnamese tourists would not think of going. They want to discover new lands, culture and people. Their motorbikes are a means of escape allowing them to breathe fresh air and admire beautiful landscapes on the way.

According to the Sai Gon Marketing newspaper, there are many phuot groups in Ha Noi, who organise themselves around the common love of travelling on motorbikes. Phuot groups always prepare well before trips. Packing is not a simple business. Tools to mend punctures, dried alcohol for cooking, pots for preparing meals, coffee, fast food, first aid kits and medicines cannot be forgotten.

Thanh Nga, a phuot enthusiast, said: "When we travel on motorbikes, we can do many things during our trips... We can touch branches of trees and blades of grass, and breathe the fragrance of mountains and forests. We can stop for a while on our way if we like, perhaps to brew a cup of coffee...and admire beautiful landscapes at any time we want, take pictures or just relax."

From simple to fancy food

From a rural food, rice vermicelli has become a favorite in the most expensive restaurants because it is easy to cook and can be used to create many delicious dishes.

For example, there are 60 dishes based on rice vermicelli at Bun Ta Restaurant. These 60 dishes represent the northern, central and southern regions of Vietnam.

Some examples are rice vermicelli soup, dry-rice vermicelli, stir-fried rice vermicelli and rice vermicelli wrapped in rice paper.

It’s almost revolutionary how far rice vermicelli has come.

This trend can be seen in bun bo (beef and rice noodle soup), bun oc (rice vermicelli soup with snails and tomatoes), bun thang (vermicelli and chicken soup), bun cha ca Quy Nhon (Quy Nhonstyle rice vermicelli soup with fried fish paste), and bun rieu cua (vermicelli and sour crab soup).

Each restaurant has its own recipes and a keen chef dreaming up more dishes that incorporate rice vermicelli.

Sitting in an expensive restaurant and listening to gentle music, diners will experience relaxing moments as they enjoy their rice vermicelli.

Although rice vermicelli is prepared in different ways and with different ingredients, it retains the special taste and simple beauty of the Vietnamese spirit.

Cultural features of Cu Da ancient village

Cu Da Village is located in Cu Khe Commune, Thanh Oai District, Hanoi. It is considered as one of the two most ancient villages in the former Ha Tay. Its ancient and tranquil beauty attracts many tourists and researchers both in and outside the country. Cu Da Village is really a symbol of Vietnamese ancient villages in the northern delta areas and it also hides cultural sediments of great values that have still been kept intact today.

Cu Da ancient village, an attractive tourist destination in Hanoi

Cu Da Village is located on the bank of the Nhue River, about 15 kilometres from center of Hanoi, bearing characters of a Vietnamese village with hundred-year-old banian-trees, rivers, ponds, village wells and ancient mossy walls.

Cu Da villagers still keep traditional and neighbourly lifestyle which has been maintained from generation to generation. So, once visitors coming Cu Da, they will find it easy to inquire the way to some family in the village. This is really a respectfully cultural feature of Cu Da people.

In the 1920s, 1930s, thanks to the favourable location ‘close to the market and the river’, Cu Da was a very busy place for traders to do business all day and night. As a result, Cu Da village’s economy was developed rapidly and the living standard of villagers was improved considerably compared to other regions. Cu Da villagers moved to all regions in the country to do business and settle down there. Some people who were better off had come back to the home village and brought along with them the cultural characters from the city. Houses with the western architectural style mixed with traditional art were built. These were communal houses built under the French-style so that villagers could gather together and make decisions on things of common concern. Each house was numbered like in a big city. Cu Da is among a few Vietnamese villages whose houses were numbered. This has made it so unique, rarely seen in any village in the northern delta area.

The cultural features of Cu Da have been preserved intact which serve as an evidence of a flourishing development period. The most remarkable relics in Cu Da are 50 French-style villas. Partly damaged by time and historical changes as they were, these houses are still kept intact with typical French style. These are two-storey villas with balcony, archway, enamel tile-paved pillars, porcelain-paved walls and so on. Tiles to pave and decorate houses were all made in France in 1910 – 1920 and imported to Vietnam. Architectural patterns and designs of these houses remain, showing the harmony between eastern and western architecture in the early years of the 20th century.

Not only bearing European-style architecture, Cu Da is also imbued with traditional values of a riverside village in the northern delta area.

These were ancient Vietnamese houses and houses of worship built one century ago. These iron wood houses with delicate carvings still stand there to the test of time. The most remarkable house is the ancient house of Trinh The Sung built in 1874 under the Tu Duc’s reign. The house features the typical architectural art of the Nguyen Dynasty as it was made entirely from timber with sophisticated patterns on its doors.

The cultural characters of Cu Da ancient village are also showed through other constructions like temples, pagodas and shrines. Cu Da temple is one of two relics of Cu Da Village recognised as the nation’s historical site. Xa Tac Worship Ritual was set at Cu Da Temple to offer sacrifices and considered as the most beautiful worship place preserved until today. This place of worship dates back to 1921, made from precious stones carved with dragons and symbols of four sacred creatures: dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix. Xa Tac Altar is not only used for the worship of the God of Land and the God of Farming, but it also implies typical features of a historical period in the past.

Cu Da Village is also famous for other ancient communal houses which are used to celebrate common activities and festivals of the whole village.

Such unique relics on a flourishing development period of Cu Da riverside ancient village have made it a ‘must-see’ tourist destination, attracting an increasing number of visitors and researchers in and outside the country.

Chinese breakfast

Customers having dim sum at Huy Long Vien restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City

No longer the sole province of the Chinese, dim sum has been thoroughly Vietnamized after centuries of being a welcome guest in this southern land.

Whatever their race, almost everyone in Vietnam likes dim sum, the Chinese cuisine of many light dishes and tea.

Meat, seafood and vegetables are used to make ha cao (shrimp dumplings), xiu mai (steamed pork meatballs), banh bao Thuong Hai (Shanghai steamed buns), suon non hap (steamed spare ribs) and banh khoai mon chien (fried taro cake), to name but a few dim sum dishes.

The portions are usually small and served in small steaming baskets or on small plates.

Dim sum in Vietnam

The Chinese first set foot in Vietnam thousands of years ago and have been bringing their secret recipes and ingredients with them ever since.

Their food has been welcomed warmly here, and Chinese cuisine in all its diversity is a firm favorite with the Vietnamese.

Like dim sum, whose name translates as "touch the heart."

Chinese restaurants usually serve it in the morning until noon but there are specialty eateries where it is available throughout the day.

Different dim sum dishes originated in different regions of China, and this diversity is reflected in the flavors at a typical meal.

For example, dim sum from Shanghai and Guangzhou tends to be elegant and understated and is generally steamed, while that from elsewhere in China is often fried in oil.

In Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, dim sum restaurants are abundant on the streets of District 5, where most Chinese live.

Cat Tuong and Ai Hue are two of the longest-standing restaurants, while the newcomers include Huy Long Vien and Crystal Jade, the latter in the Legend Hotel in District 1.

Old or new, they all serve a lot of dim sum dishes.

Crystal Jade’s menu lists more than two dozen dim sum dishes prepared by cooks from Hong Kong according to recipes from Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Huy Long Vien offers even greater choice as there are more than 40 dim sum dishes cooked the way they do it in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

The dim sum experience is enhanced by the décor of the Chinese restaurants with their recreations of the Great Wall of China.

An authentic dim sum meal includes sipping Chinese tea at frequent intervals - a traditional ritual known as Yum Cha.

Chinese people often invite their relatives or friends to enjoy dim sum for breakfast by saying “drinking tea” instead of “having breakfast.”

They like to use euphemisms and attach special importance to the choice of words, which is why they prefer the gentle “drinking tea” to the pragmatic “having breakfast.”

Built to entertain

Long Dien Son Park captivates visitors with its romantic scenery.

From a four storied bar inside a man-built mountain to children’s games, the Long Dien Son Tourist Park is focused on entertainment, the bonus is the natural beauty of its setting.

The lights on Long An Bridge twinkle and dance in waters of a large lake.

It is a beautiful, calm sight that makes one want to watch it without doing anything else.

Thu Thao has visited the place twice. “At Long Dien Son [tourist park], the most beautiful part is the bridge at night. From a distance it looks like there are two twinkling bridges. It looks very romantic.”

The lake with reddish yellow water, a specific characteristic of basalt soil in this area, stands in the center of the park.

The bridge connects the mainland with the artificial Long An Mountain that is itself lit with lights that cast a yellow glow on the green trees that surround it.

Inside the artificial mountain is a four-story high bar that can host 500 guests at a time. This place is most crowded on Saturdays and Sundays.

The bar entertains guests with laser lighting and dance music that appeal particularly to young people.

In contrast to the bar, nha ruong (a timber house with carvings on the pillars and rafters) stand at the foot of the mountain. Here the ambience is soft, from the lighting to the music, and these houses are a good place to unwind from the stress and worries of everyday work.

It takes about 10 minutes by bus from the center of Tay Ninh Town to get to the Long Dien Son Tourist Park, Ba Den Mountain and the Tay Ninh Holy See. These are places that have made Tay Ninh Province a popular tourism and entertainment hotspot.

Sprawled over 26 hectares, the Long Dien Son Tourist Park is clearly the most famous resort in Tay Ninh.

It offers wide open green spaces to go camping and enjoy several outdoor activities.

Apart from the mountainside bar, the park serves more than 300 Vietnamese, Asian and European dishes, including specialties like the baked banana cake; the mountain-gecko spring roll and steamed snail with ginger..

Long Dien Son has a buffet on Saturday and Sunday evenings that has proved to be very popular.

One guest said, “Dishes here are delicious. And the cutlery is clean, making us feel good when eating here.”

Nguyen Van Nung, general director of Long Dien Son Tourist Park, said, “Buffet is a focus point of the park. On weekends, many visitors come here to enjoy and relax.”

The 100-room Hoa Sen Hotel in the Long Dien Son Tourist Park is a comfortable place to stay. Each room has an area of 35 square meters and is elegantly designed.

The Long Dien Son Tourist Park also organizes weddings, banquets and conferences.

At the entrance to the Long Dien Son Tourist Park stand 12 animals statues of the Chinese zodiac holding gold coins, symbolizing prosperity.

The park also has several games for children to keep them busy and hosts several concerts a week. Recently, it became the first place in the province to present flamenco music performances at night.

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