Thứ Năm, 30 tháng 1, 2014

Social Headlines January 30

Leaders pay tribute to President Ho Chi Minh
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong on January 28 offered incense in tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at House No. 67 in Hanoi on the occasion of the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.
The house, located within the President Ho Chi Minh relic site, was named after the year 1967 when it was constructed. This is where the beloved President worked and passed away.
Talking with the relic site’s officials and staff, the Party leader described the site as a tourist destination and a holy venue where people pay tribute to Uncle Ho.
He noted with pleasure the increasing number of tourists to the relic site and urged the staff to set bright examples by studying and following the moral example of President Ho Chi Minh.
Earlier, on January 27 President Truong Tan Sang also burnt incense to commemorate the late President at House No. 67.
Bidding New Year wishes to the relic site’s officials and staff, the State leader asked them to well perform the task of protecting and preserving valuable objects in the house for future generations.
The President Ho Chi Minh relic site welcomed 2.5 million visitors last year, mirroring the President’s great influence on people nationwide and international friends, said its director Nguyen Van Cong.
Meanwhile, many units and localities in the central province of Nghe An and other localities paid tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at his homeland in Kim Lien commune, Nam Dan district.-
Vietnamese around the world celebrate traditional New Year
Various celebrations have been held all over the globe to mark the approaching Lunar New Year (Tet), the most important annual festival of Vietnamese people.
In Cambodia , Phnom Penh governor Paso Cheatevong on January 28 paid a courtesy visit to the Vietnamese Embassy the occasion of the special event.
He extended Tet wishes to embassy officials and staff in the Year of the Horse, and expressed his hope that Vietnamese agencies and localities will strengthen cooperation in various areas with Phnom Penh for their mutual benefit.
Ambassador Ngo Anh Dung acknowledged the governor and Phnom Penh people’s contributions to Vietnam-Cambodia relations. He assured the governor that the embassy will do its utmost to speed up multifaceted cooperation programmes between Vietnamese localities and Phnom Penh , especially between the two capitals.
Meanwhile, more than 400 international friends, including Japanese politicians and representatives of foreign embassies attended a get-together in Tokyo on January 28 at the Vietnamese Embassy’s headquarters.
Ambassador Doan Xuan Hung reviewed Vietnam ’s major development achievements in 2013, and affirmed relations between Vietnam and Japan are faring well in all areas.
He took this occasion to thank the government and people of Japan , as well as international friends, for providing effective assistance to Vietnam in the past year.
The distinguished guests enjoyed a special art performance by Vietnamese embassy staff and sampled traditional Vietnamese dishes.
In Romania , the Vietnamese embassy hosted a Tet reception for Vietnamese residents in Bucharest on January 26.
Ambassador Tran Xuan Thuy commended Vietnamese residents for their practical contributions to the homeland.
He presented certificates of merit to community representatives in recognition of their outstanding contribution to developing the community in Romania and strengthening Vietnam-Romania relations.
Trinh Dang Ngoc, president of the Vietnamese community in Romania , highlighted the community’s major activities in 2013, including fund-raising campaigns for people affected by natural disasters in the central region of Vietnam .
In a cosy atmosphere, participants tasted traditional Tet dishes and enjoyed art performances by embassy staff and Vietnamese students.
On January 28, Vietnamese people in Algeria gathered at the Vietnamese Embassy in the country. The event also saw the participation of representatives of the host country’s Foreign Minister and the Algeria-Vietnam Friendship Association.
Ambassador Vu The Hiep underscored new progress in the Vietnam-Algeria ties with the success of the 10 th Inter-Governmental Committee.
He extended his best New Year wishes to the Vietnamese community in Algeria , expressing hope that they will promote solidarity and act as bridges to further foster the friendship between the two countries.
The same day, the Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa held a Tet party for Overseas Vietnamese in the country, Botswana and some neighbouring countries.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador Le Huy Hoang reiterated that Overseas Vietnamese are an indispensable part of the nation. Supporting for the OVs in integrating with the host countries remains a priority of the country, he added.
Also on January 28, Vietnamese people in Singapore offered floral tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at his monument and statue.
The monument, inaugurated in 2008 to celebrate the 118 th birthday of the late leader, commemorates his visits to Singapore in 1930 and 1933.
In order to bring the Tet atmosphere of the homeland to Vietnamese people in the Republic of Korea (RoK), the Vietnamese Embassy held an art performance to celebrate the traditional festival.
Addressing the event, Ambassador Pham Huu Chi wished the Vietnamese community in the RoK, especially guest workers in the country, a happy New Year.
He spoke highly of the workers’ contributions to the economic development of both Vietnam and the RoK, as well as to the promotion of the Vietnam ’s image in the eyes of RoK businesses and friends.
On the occasion, Ambassador Chi also informed that the two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding allowing more than 10,000 Vietnamese labourers to work in the RoK in 2014.
He also visited and presented gifts to some outstanding Vietnamese-RoK families in the host country.
Free wifi for one hour
The central city of Da Nang has extended the duration of the free wireless internet service (Wi-Fi) from 20 minutes to 60 minutes during the Lunar New Year.
The local people and tourists at major centres and streets in the city, including living quarters, schools, beaches, tourism sites, hospitals, shopping malls, bus and railway stations, airports and entertainment centres will able to avail of the extension of service from January 28 to February 9.
The city launched the free Wi-Fi service, with a maximum of 20,000 connections at a time, for local people and tourists last year.
Police hunt suspect in woman's murder
The local police in Central Highland's Lam Dong Province are hunting a suspect who allegedly killed a 52-year-old woman and injured her 60-year-old husband on Monday.
Initial investigations showed that the suspect had also allegedly searched and robbed the couple's house.
The injured husband was taken to the Lam Dong General Hospital in a critical condition, with two 8-centimetre stab wounds in his head.
The police are investigating the case.
Ha Noi pushes smoke-free zones in hotels, restaurants

Ha Noi's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism wants to promote smoke-free restaurants and hotels this year, said the vice director of the department, Mai Tien Dung.
The department would encourage restaurants and hotels not to allow smoking in crowded areas and then, eventually, ban smoking at the larger ones.
The move is being made not only to improve the city's image in visitors' eyes, but also to conform with the nation's Law on Tobacco Harm-Reduction.
A representative from World Hospital Organisation's Office in Ha Noi, Le Duc Truong, said that many countries banned smoking in restaurants and hotels to ensure a healthy environment. Already, a few in Viet Nam also do the same.
At present, Ha Noi has 317 hotels, six hostels, five tourist apartment blocks and four luxury apartment blocks with a total of nearly 16,000 rooms.
Last year, the city received 2.5 million foreign visitors - 22.9 per cent higher than in 2012, nearly 14 million domestic visitors - 13 per cent higher than in 2012. This year, the number of foreign visitors is expected to increase by 15 per cent.
Accidents kill 24 on first day of Tet
Twenty-four persons were killed in 55 road accidents across the country yesterday, the first day of the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, reported the National Committee for Traffic Safety.
The accidents also injured 43 persons.
On the same day, the traffic police registered nearly 4,100 cases of traffic violations across the country, with the total fines collected being approximately VND1.2 billion (US$56,400). The police temporarily detained four cars and 656 motorbikes for breaking traffic rules.
Yesterday morning, a bike collided with a truck and both vehicles broke through a barrier along the National Highway 1A section in the south central province of Phu Yen. The vehicles fell 11.5 metres onto the North-South railway line. Five persons were seriously injured and are being treated at the Phu Yen hospital.
However, no traffic jams occurred on streets and roads vulnerable to traffic congestion during the last working days before the nine-day Tet holiday. According to the committee, the hotline set up for the festival has received many complaints of traffic violations by coaches over the past few days. The committee has asked the transport departments of localities to inspect and impose strict punishment for the violations.
VN to experience temperature spikes after Tet
The country will experience a temperature spike after Tet holidays, according to a report by the Central Hydrological and Meteorological Forecast Center.
Provinces in the north and northeast will be experiencing early-morning fog and sunny afternoons on January 28-29. The areas will be experiences low temperatures of 15-18 degrees Celsius and high temperatures of 22-24 degrees Celsius.
Temperatures will increase to 24-26 degrees Celsius from January 30 to February 1 while precipitation reduces.
Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Son La provinces will experience morning fog and temperature highs of 30 degrees during the day on February 2-3.
Than Hoa and Thua Thien Hue provinces will experience temperature lows of 17-19 degrees Celsius and highs of 23-26 degrees from January 28 to February 1. The provinces will experience light precipitation and a temperature drop of 2 degrees early February.
The central highlands provinces will experience dry weather at 25-28 degrees Celsius.  The southern provinces will experience dry, hot weather at 25-32 degrees Celsius.
Last respect paid to British close friend of Vietnam
Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Vu Quang Minh on January 27 attended a memorial service held in the English city of Coventry for Madeleine Agnes Sharp, a UK doctor who made great contributions to humanitarian aid in Vietnam.
Born in 1921, Sharp was involved in a movement in Coventry against the US War in Vietnam.
In 1965, she became a supporter of the Medical Aid Committee for Vietnam, which was the predecessor of the Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (MSAVLC) organisation.
From 1989 to 2009, as the MSAVLC Honorary President, she visited Vietnam many times and sought for practical measures to help people in underdeveloped mountainous areas.
Sharp contributed much to the cooperation between the MSAVLC and the Highland Education Development Organisation in training 1,500 midwives in eight northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam, which aimed to reduce the mortality rate of mothers and newborn babies.
Speaking at the memorial service, Ambassador Minh said that over the last 50 years, Madeleine Agnes Sharp had been a close friend of Vietnam who incessantly devoted her life to Vietnam’s liberation and development.
She was granted the Friendship Order of the Vietnamese State in 1992 along with a number of insignias by Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education and Training, and Health, he noted.
Meanwhile, Coventry’s Lord Mayor Gary Crookes said Sharp was the pride of the city.
She was presented with the member of the Order of the British Empire medal in 2001 and the Coventry International Prize for Peace in 2004.
Vietnam, Laos boost information cooperation
Vietnam and Laos on January 28 signed a plan to increase bilateral cooperation in information sharing over 2014-15.
Signatories to the plan were Vietnamese Minister of information and Communication Nguyen Bac Son and Lao Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara, who was on a visit to Hanoi.
During their talks, both sides discussed measures to tighten their cooperation in information, communication, culture and sports.
The same day, the Lao Minister was received by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who said the two countries need to work closely together to put the 2014-15 cooperation plan, contributing to strengthening their special relationship.
Vongdara thanked Vietnam for providing effective assistance to Laos in various areas over the years, including information, communications, culture and sports.
He proposed Deputy PM Dam direct Vietnamese ministries and agencies to collaborate closely with the Lao ministry to make bilateral cooperation more productive.
The Lao delegation also worked with Radio the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) and Vietnam Television (VTV) to outline future cooperation plans.
Tet flowers bring colour to Ho Chi Minh City
As Tet approaches once more, flower shops in Ho Chi Minh City are full of buyers. Various kinds of flowers and bonsai have brought colour to the city on the threshold of the Year of the Horse.
This year, Ho Chi Minh City has more than 130 flower shops dotted in every corner of the city. This makes it convenient for city dwellers to purchase flowers.
In the flower market at September 23rd Park, besides traditional decorative plants such as apricot trees, peach blossom, orchids and daisies, a lot of varieties of plants with strange shapes at not too high prices are showcased.
Apricot symbolises Tet in the south. This year, small and medium apricot trees range from 300,000 - 1 million dong, not much higher than last year.
Peach blossom, available in the north during Tet, is transported from the north, as well as from the Central Highlands city of Da Lat at cheaper prices.
Due to the lingering economic recession, many customers just come to browse. Therefore, sales are far from sellers’ expectations.
Choosing flower or bonsai pots to decorate houses is the Vietnamese traditional practice during Tet celebrations. Every street seems to be more colourful when flower markets erupt.
Localities deal with cross-border illegal poultry trade
The northern mountainous province of Ha Giang and southern Tay Ninh province have introduced tough measures to thwart poultry smuggling during the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) festival in a bid to prevent the spread of bird flu in their border areas.
The strain of H7N9 virus appeared in several Chinese provinces which border with Ha Giang and the strain of H5N1 virus was spotted in some Cambodian provinces which border with Tay Ninh, therefore, they face high risks of bird influenza infection.
The provinces’ health sector strengthened supervision to quickly detect disease cases, while asking preventative medical centres to manage people who enter Vietnamese provinces from neighbouring countries.
According to Director of Ha Giang’s Department of Public Health Tran Duc Quy, quarantine units at border gates, health centres and hospitals in the province arranged doctors and health workers to manage cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome and pneumonia in communities, thus making diagnoses more quickly and applying treatment without delay to minimise fatalities.
All medical stations and general hospitals in 11 districts and cities have made necessary preparations in terms of medical equipment and medicine in case the disease arrives.
Localities have been ordered to keep a close watch on the situation and absolutely remove any pockets of disease, reporting to Ha Giang’s health department to deploy prevention measures where necessary.
The Department of Industry and Trade, the customs office, public security officials, and the High Command of border armies in Ha Giang and Tay Ninh have also been urged to effectively implement poultry market management by seizing illegally traded poultry crossing border areas.
The two health departments have also intensified the popularisation of information on avian influenza risks to local people, encouraging them to well implement sanitation and decontamination to ensure food safety, thus reducing the risk of the disease spreading, especially in the Tet holidays.
Vietnamese Tet in Russia
The traditional lunar New Year festival, an indispensable part of Vietnamese people’s spiritual life, is also widely celebrated by international friends, especially Russians.
A group of young Russian dancers from Magia Contemporary Dance Theatre want to acquire the Tet taste following a summer tour in Vietnam in 2013.
Choreographer Anatasia Suvorova suggested a special party for the Tet celebration and the initiative was supported by all group members.
With assistance from a Vietnamese girl, they prepared Dong leaves, sticky rice and pork to make Banh Chung – a typical savoury cake for the Tet holiday. They even purchased mushrooms, minced pork, sprouts, pepper, and rice cake papers to make spring rolls.
They displayed a tray of fruits and decorated a peach branch for the special party at Moscow-based Ha Long Restaurant.
Likewise the girls wore traditional Vietnamese long dress (Ao Dai) to welcome in the New Year, which made a lasting impression on them.
Suvorova said after her group’s performance tour in Vietnam last year, she became fascinated with Vietnamese culture and wanted to learn more about it.
She was deeply impressed by how meticulously Vietnamese prepare for Tet and worship ancestors, she added, something that is not done in Russia.
Kristina, a 17-year-old student from the dancing group, also found it exciting to make Chung cake and spring rolls. She marvels at the idea of returning to Vietnam to visit more wonderfully exotic and beautiful places and people.
In a diplomatic area in west Moscow, dozens of Vietnamese families gathered wrapping Chung cake and teaching their children how to make them.
Meanwhile, a group of young Russian friends who were learning the Vietnamese language were also captivated on learning of how Vietnamese prepare for Tet.
Kostia, a young girl working at a police office, found it challenging and rewarding as she learned the intricacies on how to make Chung cake.
“This is the first time I have participated in such a wonderful activity,” she said. “I came to Vietnam last year and like it very much. I decided to study Vietnamese to learn more about how the people prepare for Tet.”
Tet has steadily been gaining in popularity with international friends, and serves as a cultural bridge connecting overseas Vietnamese and foreign friends with the homeland.
New bridges open over Mekong's tributaries
Cai Lon and Cai Be, two major bridges on the 6.3-kilometre Tac Cau Bypass, were opened to traffic in the Mekong province of Kien Giang on January 27.
The 700-metre Cai Lon Bridge spans the Cai Lon River in Chau Thanh District and the 630-metre Cai Be Bridge is over the Cai Be River in An Bien District. Both the three-lane bridges, built under the Southern Coastal Corridor Project, are 12 metres wide.
General Director of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Transport Infrastructure Development and Management Project, Duong Tuan Minh said the Ministry of Transport will hold the official inauguration of the two bridges on February 7, 2014.
He said the two bridges have been opened to traffic early to facilitate movement of transport in the region and to help people travel before Tet.
Earlier, people had to take Xeo Ro – Tac Cau ferries across the Cai Lon and the Cai Be rivers.
According to Cuu Long Co, the first phase of the Southern Coastal Corridor Project aims to construct 108.8 kilometres of the highway, comprising a new section of 81.6 kilometres and an upgraded section of 18.2 kilometres.
The construction of the Southern Coastal Corridor Project requires an investment of VND8,159 billion (US$398 million), with the capital coming from ODA loans provided by the Korean Government and the Asian Development Bank, non-refundable aid funds from the Australian Government and counter-capital from the Vietnamese Government.
The construction of the project started in May 2011 and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014.
Tet comes early to needy people
While the whole country is entering into the festive mood for the Tet holiday, its biggest in the year, many poor households in Ho Chi Minh City are already enjoying particular happiness with Tet gifts sent by local authorities.
This year, more gifts have been given earlier to a broader range of beneficiaries, in order to inspire some local cheer as the New Year dawns. Many of the most disadvantaged have even been presented well-built houses to live in.
Vo Thanh My, Chairman Fatherland Front of An Phu commune, Cu Chi district said the house means a lot to the needy households in remote areas like An Phu commune as it will make them feel more stable in life, thus working better.
A beneficiary, Trinh Ngoc Quy, An Phu commune, Cu Chi district expressed his happiness to now have a well-constructed house as his old and dilapidated shelter could barely cover his family from wind and rain.
To Chu Thi Hong To, who has to raise three children in Can Thanh town, Can Gio district, the house is like a dream come true, thanks to the helping hand of the local social organisations and union.
Many other households in Thạnh An Island district now have new houses to shelter them from storms and winds, giving them a warmer Tet holiday.
Houses worth nearly 1 billion VND have been presented to 27 poor households in the city, while gift packages have also been given to 1000 needy families.
Besides giving Tet gifts and houses, Ho Chi Minh City authorities and social organisations have provided free bus tickets and 24,000 gift packages to the workers during the holidays.
Delicious Chung cakes keep enterprising community busy
On the days before Tet, the atmosphere in Hùng Lô commune, Việt Trì city heats up, literally. The streets around the community, located in the northern province of Phú Thọ, fill with boiling pots of Chung glutinous rice cake.
All family members, from children to the elderly, hurry to make the delicious Tet mainstay in time for the festival.
Chưng cake is a traditional Vietnamese dish that is an integral part of the lunar New Year celebration. It is made from glutinous rice, pork and green bean paste, and then wrapped in a square of “dong” (arrowroot) leaves, which gives the rice a green tint after being boiled for ten hours.
Hung Lo may be the only commune in Phu Tho that still maintains the trade of Chung cake making all year round. However, on these festive days, the commune seems to be covered by the green colour of dong leaves and the white of rice.
The Hung Lo incarnation of the cake is famous for its taste, as locals very carefully choose all of the ingredients. The cakes, once completed, will be delivered to markets, supermarkets and retailers across the province.
Nguyen Tien Duc, Chairman of the Hung Lo commune People’s Committee, said Hung Lo commune has 1,900 households, 30 percent of which earn their living due to traditional trades, such as vermicelli processing and Chung cake making.
Chung cake is believed to have been invented as long as 4,000 years ago. Legend has it that the 18 th Hung King could not decide on the tricky matter of his successor.
Finally, he decided that whichever of his sons invented the most delicious and symbolic new food would become the next ruler. And so, Prince Lang Liêu made round and square Day cakes, representing the Sky and square Chung cakes symbolising the Earth. These were decided by his father to be the best creation, and Lang Lieu overcame his brothers to take the throne.
Due to its quality, Hung Lo Chung cake is offered to Hung Kings during the temple festival dedicated to them in the third lunar month every year. The worship of Hung Kings was honoured by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2012.
In the coming time, the cake will be chosen as a unique product and promoted within the tourism sector. This move is expected to help Hung Lo enjoy rapid socio-economic development.
Community role in mangrove forest management
Vietnam is one of the five countries hardest hit by climate change, with its coastal region being the most vulnerable area. Community-based management and development of mangrove forests is an effective way to strengthen coastal resilience against climate change.
Vietnam has favourable conditions for mangrove forests to grow and develop. However, the area and quality of this kind of forest are declining. The total area of mangrove forest in the country is about 200,000 hectares, down 60 percent compared to 70 years ago.
According to Nguyen Quoc Dung, Forestry Inventory and Planning Institute, there are several reasons behind the decline of mangrove forests. They include the changing use of forest land for aquaculture, the overexploitation of wood and natural resources as well as environmental pollution and climate change.
At present, forest protection is facing difficulties due to the lack of synchronous technical solutions, inter-ministerial collaboration and sustainable financial mechanisms for the management and restoration of the mangrove forests. More importantly, the activity has not yet mobilised community involvement.
In the central province of Thanh Hoa, thanks to strengthening the role of the community in forest growing and protection, the area of submerged forest has increased remarkably. Since 2007, with the support of CARE Vietnam, the model of community-based multipurpose mangrove forest planting has been developed in Nga Thuy commune, Nga Son district and Da Loc commune in Hau Loc district.
Nguyen Van Dinh, Vice Chairman of the Da Loc communal People’s Committee, said his commune had 200 hectares of submerged forest prior to 2007.
Thanks to the support of domestic and international organisations, additional 300 hectares have been grown, raising the total area of mangrove forest in the commune to 500 hectares. The commune plans to grow 200 hectares more from now to 2020, Dinh said.
Living in the coastal region, Vu Duc Thuan in Thanh Hoa province’s Hau Loc district understands the value of submerged forest to his livelihood. He has raised a total of 500 ducks with feed sourced from the forest, which has helped double his income.
He revealed the he can save money that he would spend on food for ducks thanks to the mangrove forest. The ducks can eat snails found in the forest and produce good quality eggs.
The mangrove forest in the locality also helps protect the coastal ecosystem and benefits local people. When harvest is over, the locals can earn 50-100,000 VND a day from catching crabs or fish living in the mangrove forest.
Dung said the State has issued policies to encourage the community to join hands to protect mangrove forests by giving them the rights to manage, protect and benefit from the forests. This is an effective way to restore and develop the mangrove forests in our country in a sustainable manner.
However, the policies are still part of the general forestry guidelines. There should be separate policies and mechanisms for mangrove forests. Added to this, local people and authorities should be educated to raise their awareness of protecting and developing the mangrove forests.
Tet flowers, trees find few buyers
Even though Tet is just days away, many people in HCM City remain hesitant to buy flowers and ornamental trees for the holiday because of the economic situation.
Apart from necessary food, several types of Tet flowers and ornamental trees, including apricot, peach, as well as fruits are being sold on roadsides and in parks.
Nguyen Van Hao, from Phu Nhuan District, together with his family walked around to see flowers and ornamental trees at a park. When the seller said the apricot tree is priced at VND5 million (USD236.57), he walked away.
“I think it’s still a bit early to buy apricots at those prices. If prices were reasonable I would buy one. I might decide to buy another type of ornamental tree instead,” said Hao.
Even though apricot trees are typical for Tet in HCM City, their sales are in a slump this year.
One grower and seller of these trees said that the best-sellers this year are the very large ones that cost tens of millions of VND. These usually go to large companies or well-off families.
Peach and kumquat trees from the northern region arrived for Tet. Even though prices fluctuate, it seems that these have not sold well either. The sales of many flowers for Tet have also been unimpressive.
“It seems to be a bit early for people to buy flowers now because they might wilt,” said Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang, owner of a flower shop.
Fruit sales are also lagging.  “Our fruit shop has been open for four days, but have very few customers. I don't dare to buy more for fear that demand will not increase in the next few days,” said Huynh Thi Hoa.
Despite this, many supermarkets have been overcrowded as people flock to buy necessities for the holiday.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/Nhandan/Dantri

Thứ Tư, 29 tháng 1, 2014

Art & Entertainment Headlines January 30

Da Nang flower festival opens
The Tet flower festival opens at 29 March Park in the central city of Da Nang today.
Over 1,000 artworks made of flowers will be on display, along with other activities such as calligraphy, painting exhibition, a bird-singing contest and cuisine pavilions.
Artists from Hue, Hoi An, Ninh Thuan and Tien Giang will be participating in the festival. There will also be an exhibition of ceramics by the Cham people from coastal Ninh Thuan Province.
Two locations have been prepared for launching fireworks along the banks of the Han River. Fireworks will light up the sky over the river, reflecting the colourful lighting designs of Rong (Dragon), Tran Thi Ly, Thuan Phuoc and Han River bridges.
Book Road Festival opens in HCMC

 flower market, festival, tet

State President Truong Tan Sang on January 28 attended the opening ceremony of the 2014 Book Road Festival in Ho Chi Minh City.  
State President Truong Tan Sang (6th from R) cuts the ribbon to open the 2014 Book Road Festival – Photo: QDND
Under the motto ‘Ho Chi Minh City – My beloved city,’ the festival featured activities to honor traditional Vietnamese cultural features and affirm the nation’s sovereignty.
The books in the festival were divided into four categories including ‘Books and Culture’, ‘Books and Knowledge’, ‘Books and Viet Nam’s sovereignty’ and ‘Favorite Books’.
Among 200,000 titles offered by Fahasa, the ‘Books and Culture’ category introduced a vast number of titles on southern folk music don ca tai tu, which was recently recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
There will also be a number of don ca tai tu musical instruments to increase the public’s awareness of the intangible heritage.
The General Publishing House introduces a series of books featuring the late General Vo Nguyen Giap and documentation of Viet Nam’s sovereignty over its territorial waters and islands.
The event would run until February 3./.
Hue locals shop flowers for Tet
Thousands of local residents in Hue flock to the flower fair set up annually in front of the flag tower of the former royal citadel on threshold of the Lunar New Year.
The fair meets locals' need of flowers and flora, including trees, plants, cut flowers and flower in pots, and offers Hue residents chance to enjoy various species of flowers as well.
As Tet tradition, people buy fresh flowers for home decoration. This tradition is for the wish of a brighter new year and for respect to their ancestors by decorating the altar with fresh cut flowers.
However, local plantations failed to have the flora bloom in time due to extreme weather in the locality last year. This has driven the import of many other flowers.
According to owner of Hoang Thao plantation in the outskirts of Hue, almost no ochna trees have yellow blossoms. Locals get ochna tree from Binh Dinh Province instead.
Le Tuan Nhan, a grower of chrysanthemum in Hung Thuy District said unpredictable weather prevented the growth of his plants, resulting in short bodies of the plants.
Consumers hesitate with the flowers grown at the locality and they turn to Taiwain origin varieties of water rail, poinsettia, torch lily, and orchid; as well as kumquat trees and peach blossoms from other provinces.
According to shops selling flowers of tulip and lily grown in foggy Da Lat City in the Central Highlands, they run busy business as consumers favour these kinds of flowers.
Hanoi: Quang An flower market, a special treat
Quang An flower market on Au Co street in Tay Ho, Hanoi, has been bustling with a crowd of flower dealers and buyers these days in preparations for Tet or Lunar New Year festival.
As a big and well-known market in the capital city, the market place is getting busier and busier prior to Tet, the most important holiday of Vietnamese people.
Though situated outside the dyke of the Red River delta, sellers also sell flowers on the river dyke to meet the increasing demand for Tet.
This year, the market offers more varieties of flowers, which are transported from different areas: peach blossoms and chrysanthemum from Nhat Tan, Tu Lien kumquat, apricot blossoms from Ho Chi Minh City, roses from Soc Son, and cymbidium orchid and lys flowers from Da Lat.
Quang An market took shape from a temporary market in Nhat Tan district established to sell flowers grown at some well-known flower villages by West Lake such as Nhat Tan, Quang Ba.
When Tay Ho district was set up in 1996, the market was moved to its present location in Quang An district.
From Quang An market, which is open at night to early morning, except for Tet holidays, flowers are distributed to elsewhere in the city with most of the buyers being wholesale dealers.
In the pre-Tet period, the market is busy not only with flower dealers but also with young customers who come to enjoy the bustling atmosphere or buy flowers to decorate their home.
Visiting the flower market has become a hobby for many Hanoians as the freshness of colorful and fragrant flowers displayed there is a special treat to their souls.-
Vietnamese artists rock guitar festival in Sri Lanka
A pair of talented Vietnamese musicians successfully represented Vietnam at the Guitar Festival 2014 in Sri Lanka from January 25-27.
Nguyen Thanh Vinh and Nguyen Van Phuc wowed the crowd at the event, the fourth of its kind, along with 40 other leading guitarists from Sri Lanka and around the world.
The two Vietnamese stars and other guitarists performed different classical genres such as Flamenco, Acoustic, Jazz, Hawaii , Rock and Heavy Metal.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Ton Sinh Thanh, along with many diplomats and senior officials attended the opening ceremony which took place at the Royal Institute in Colombo.
Phuc impressed the audience with his rendition of three pieces: “Nguoi Ha Noi” (Hanoian), “Sonata’s Chapter No 3” by Leo Brouwer and “Fuocco” by Roland Dyens. Meanwhile, his partner Vinh received thunderous applause after playing a repertoire of Vietnamese and Italian songs.
On January 26-27, the two artists performed in the major Sri Lankan cities of Kandy and Chilaw.-
Tomb-sweeping tradition in Vietnam
Whenever the Lunar New Year (Tet) comes, normally from the 23rd of the lunar December to the New Year eve, Vietnamese families visit their ancestors’ tombs and clean gravesites.
Everyone has his/her own job with someone uprooting weeds while the other grows flowers on ancestors’ gravesites or decorates the grave stones.
Vietnamese people believe everything, including the deceased’s tombs, should be clean and bright in celebration of the traditional New Year and to have God bless you.
The tradition seems more significant for old people today in busy cities, who are afraid of young generations’ negligence of the family value in the busy modern life.
80-year-old Thu Lien in Hanoi, for example, considers tomb sweeping day not only a chance for family reunion but also for children and grandchildren to fulfil their duties and show respect to parents and the ancestors as a whole.
That’s why tomb sweeping tradition bears strong family identity with big families always fixing a concrete date and writing down in the family records for younger generations to follow, thus strengthen the family unity and value.
At the gravesites, family members often sum up the family major events during the year for their ancestors and invite the dead to “fly home” to enjoy Tet with the alive.
After the tomb sweeping day, Vietnamese families often prepare a six-dish tray of food on the last day of the lunar December to welcome ancestors back home for Tet. A send-off party will be held on the third or fourth day of the lunar January, accordingly the local or family tradition.
Tet atmosphere envelops girdle cake village
Banh Trang or ‘girdle cake’ is an integral part of Tet to Vietnamese people, especially those living in the Mekong Delta. In the run up to the Lunar New Year, the atmosphere in Thanh Hung girdle cake village in Giong Rieng district, Kien Giang province gets heated as locals hurry to make enough cakes to provide for consumers during the holiday.
Founded more than 80 years ago, Thanh Hung girdle cake village has 80 households still maintaining the traditional trade.
Preparation starts at the beginning of the 12 th lunar month, with all production facilities stocked up with ingredients, including rice flour, copra and fuel to make more cakes than on an average day. Therefore, locals’ income also increases.
“We prepare enough rice and fuel for the orders we receive. We also employ more labourers than usual,” said Nguyen Hoang Liem from Thanh Hung commune, Giong Rieng district.
Thanh Hung girdle cake is famous for its delicious taste. On these days, more and more dealers come to this trade village to order huge quantities of this kind of cake. The product will travel to all localities across the Mekong Delta region, in particular, An Giang, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu provinces. It is mainly used to make spring rolls.
“On Tet days, we can sell more girdle cakes than normal days as consumer demand is higher,” said Le Thi Nga, Thanh Hung commune, Giong Rieng district.
The trade of making girdle cake not only helps locals get out of poverty and improve their lives, but also maintains a traditional cultural identity of Vietnamese people.-
Northern Vietnamese food tingles taste buds in HCM City
As the nation’s economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City is home to many food specialties from various regions around the country. During Tet festival, dishes with a decidedly northern flavour such as “chưng” cake and pork pies have brought happiness to families from this region who are unable to herald the Tet holiday in their hometown.
“Vietnamese culture has significant meaning whenever Tet comes. For people whose hometowns are in the north, a family meal provides such a lot of warmth, Dang Hong Nga from Ho Chi Minh City ’s District 1 said while shopping at a store selling dishes from the northern region, which are commonly called Hanoi traditional specialties. They include “chưng” cakes, pork pies, pickled onion and scallion head and Mai said these kinds of food are indispensible during Tet holiday.
After many years of experience bringing northern flavours southwards, Lê Chiến Thắng, owner of a store in Ho Chi Minh City is something of an expert. However, he said that due to the current economic difficulties, purchasing power has increased by only 20 percent during the festive event. In order to have a plentiful amount of goods, his shop had to order from last October.
Special offerings such as oranges, Buddha’s hand fruit and “diễn” grapefruit always sell well on the occasion. Each Buddha’s hand fruit costs approximately one million VND. A Buddha’s hand fruit is segmented into finger-like sections and it has spiritual meaning. He had to order this kind of fruit in the northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang and Hanoi .
As Tet is approaching, the number of customers is increasing. Foodstuff prices have all increased around 10 percent compared to the normal days, while transport costs have also been on the rise, he said.
In the heart of the dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, these dedicated food stores continue determinedly with their work, quietly bringing northern Vietnamese Tet flavours to people who opt not to go home for the New Year celebrations.-
Tourist Areas in the Mekong Prepare for Tet Festival
Tourist areas in the Mekong delta are busily preparing to welcome the Tet festival 2014.
Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta officially opened its first Flower Street on January 28.  It will be open for seven days of the Lunar New Year holiday.  Ancient houses and ecological areas such as My Khanh, Khuong Islet and Khuong Dien will be open for visitation.
Dong Thap Province tourism increased 30 percent every year compared to last year, said Deputy Director of Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ngo Quang Tuyen.
The province’s leaders are determined to invest more in tourist areas including Nguyen Sinh Sac Monument to honor Ho Chi Minh’s father, flower village of Sa Dec, Huynh Thuy Le Home Dec Town, and Tram Chim National Park where thousands of Sarus cranes reside.
Bac Lieu Province in the Mekong Delta spent over VND2,500 billion (US$118,825) building 21 hectares at Nga Mat.
Kien Giang Province’s Phu Quoc Island is ready to dazzle tourists with beautiful pristine islands.
There is no increase in price for tourism, said Director of Kien Giang Tourist Center Nguyen Dinh Trung.
An Giang Province considers tourism its biggest industry, said authorities. The province’s famous tourist sites are Cam Mountain, Ton Duc Thang Monument, Tra Su Cajuput Forest and Ba Chua Xu Temple.