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Discover Halong Bay - World Heritage of Vietnam

If Hanoi is the grand old dame of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City is the brash young floozy, then Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An are the alluring mistresses you encounter along the way.

How to find safe travel in Halong Bay

Having read the news about tourist boat sunk in Halong Bay, Vietnam some days ago, ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to give out some advices about how to travel safely and enjoyably in Halong Bay.

Cruising Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay looked picturesque and was sunny and warm. Indochina sails, Ha Long bay , Vietnam We got up early today as we need to catch the bus for our trip to Ha Long Bay, about 3 hours west of Hanoi.

Kayaking and Cycling in a World Heritage Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most spectacular, and therefore heavily 'touristed' attractions in Vietnam. Kayak on Ha Long bay, Vietnam .

A Look into Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site and it really deserves the designation. It is one of the most exciting unusual places I have been to in my life.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tet- New Year, Vietnam, Ancient Customs

For the Vietnamese people, Tet is the most sacred time of the year.

Peach Flowers of Tet - Vietnamese Lunar New Year

On lunar New Year's Eve, each member of a family and of society exchange sincere good wishes, strengthening common cultural ties. Tet is also time to reflect on the spiritual life.

In Hanoi, on the stroke of midnight, the whole family sits down to eat together. The house has been cleaned well in advance. The family altar is decorated with fresh flowers, fruits (5 kinds of fruits with 5 different colors) and red candles. During Tet, angry words are forbidden. Most Hanoians visit pagodas, and make sure to bring home a leafy branch, an ancient symbol of prosperity.

During the next few days, it is crucial for people to visit as many of their relatives, friends and former teachers as they can manage. As an old proverb says:" the first day of Tet is for parents, the second for friends, and third for teachers".

When visiting families, it is customary to offer children and old people money in a lucky red envelope, to wish the elderly a long life and the children a year of fast growth. Visitors wish their hosts happiness, wealth and success as soon as they arrive.

In the Centre of the country, people put a lot of energy into Tet's preparations - they are busy baking biscuits and sweets months beforehand. The people of Hue in particular are famous for their delicious food, cakes and jam.

During Tet, old people sit down together to share a bottle of wine. In Hue, people who have mastered Chinese calligraphy to give as seasonal presents are greatly respected. Some hire boats and drift down the Perfume River reciting poetry recalling old times and floating candles on the water.

Tropical HCM City is more vibrant, with friends getting together to have fun. Here as well, people visit pagoda, often next carrying huge sticks of incense or giant candles.

The free and easy Saigonese are not as bound by tradition as their northern cousins. Many take their families to beaches, pagoda and amusements centres. Most shops stay open, and shopping is a popular pastime. Just like in the rest of the county, though, the Saigonese never forget to wish one another all the best for New Year.

Source: thingsasian

Recommendation in Vietnam:

Ha Long Bay

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do You Know How Vietnamese People Cultivate Wet Rice?

Some 70 per cent of Vietnam’s population is engaged in agriculture, which uses over 20 per cent of the country’s area and produces 15 per cent of its GDP.

Farmer in Northern Vietnam - Copywrite Brenda Sunno

Vietnam has two huge deltas: the Mekong in the south and the Red River in the north. From time immemorial the Vietnamese have known how to build dykes and avoid flooding, creating more land for wet –rice cultivation. Thousands of kilometres of dykes have been built along the Red River to protect this vast fertile delta and its population.

Recently my friend Huong Do and I visited her uncle, who is a farmer in Hai Duong province in the very heart of the Red River delta. The host, Mr. Hien, was very enthusiastic about showing us rural life.

Generally they cultivate two types, sticky rice and ordinary rice. The first is used for special events and ceremonies such as Tet ( lunar New Year) and weddings.

Talking about wet-rice-cultivation, Mr. Hien recites a Vietnamese proverb:’Nhat nuoc, nhi phan, tam can, tu giong’. This translates as ‘First one needs water,then manure,then diligence, and finally high quality seed’. ‘In the north we have two rice crops and one subsidiary one, according to the weather’, he said.

The winter –spring crop begins in the 12th lunar month and finishes in the fourth. The summer –autumn one lasts from the sixth to the 10th lunar month. After these crops there is time for the land to heal and we plant maize,taro, potato and sweet potato’.

To Start a crop we have to prepare the land. We empty the water from each field. Then we plough deep and rake it carefully with the help of the buffalo. The buffalo is well cared for and respected in the same way that many foreigners care about dogs’.
There are three things that are critical to every Vietnamese farmer’s life: purchasing a buffalo, getting married and building a house.

‘In order to prepare the land we put down fertiliser, either natural or chemical.water is constantly needed too’.’Different varieties of rice are very important.

Normally we select the best species from previous crops, using techniques passed down through generations. “In order to germinate it we put the paddy in a jute sack and soack it in water for 24 hours. We then take it out of the water and arrange it in a dark, damp place to facilitate germination. After 12 hours we repeat the process.

In cool winter weather straw ash is mixed with the paddy in order to keep it warm. When the roots reach two to three centimetres you can sow rice in a small prepared area.

During this period the young rice plants need water, but not too much. After one month you pick the young shoots and transplant the rice seedling to another field. ‘Working the fields requires diligence, During the three- and-a- half months of rice development you have to constandy watch your field! You need to pull out any weeds growing with the rice. This work is normally reserved for women.

There has to be water in time for each period of development of the rice’.
The ethnic minorities in mountainous areas practice wte- rice-cultivation on terraces.

It is not until you actually take off your shoes, roll up your trousers and muck in that you really appreciate the skill and energy required to harvest rice.

As Mr Hien says,’when the rice is mature the whole family has to work. We cut the rice with sickles and bring it home by ox cart.

Fortunately, machines are now used for separating the paddy and straw. Last year we had a big harvest. This year we have had to work very hard due to floods’.

With a trace of sadness Hien adds that the farmer’s life is till difficult. ‘We depend on rice but if the price is too low there is no profit. The government should pay more attention to our life, to build processing zones for agricultural products and find markets for us’.
Famers in the south harvest three crops a year and the wet-rice-cultivation technique is also different.

Source: thingsasian.com

Recommendation: http://www.indochinasails.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

The author has an unforgetable experience when she arrived Hanoi.

A barbershop on the streets of Hanoi

It’s an act of faith! Crossing the street in the city of Hanoi in Vietnam is an experience I will never forget.

The roads are literally wall to wall traffic. Motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, cars, hand carts, buses, cars, mopeds, taxis and trucks whiz by in a blur of color and motion. There are very few traffic lights and I quickly learned that the ones which do exist are just for decoration.

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