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Exhibition showcases Polish painter’s affection for VN



Polish painter Marta Kisiliczyk has been inspired by flora and landscapes in Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum

HÀ NỘI — Artworks inspired by flora and landscapes in Việt Nam by Polish painter Marta Kisiliczyk are on display at the Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum, No 66 Nguyễn Thái Học Street, Hà Nội.

The exhibition entitled Transformation, which includes 17 paintings, is part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Việt Nam.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Foreign Minister Tô Anh Dũng thanked Kisiliczyk for her affection for Việt Nam and its people.

According to him, Việt Nam and Poland have had a friendly relationship throughout the 70 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations on February 4, 1950.

Việt Nam is the third-biggest partner of Poland in Southeast Asia while the country is the largest trading partner of Việt Nam in central eastern Europe.

The two countries’ two-way trade turnover in 2019 reached nearly US$2 billion.

Dũng added that he would co-chair the political consultations between the foreign ministries of Việt Nam and Poland tomorrow, which is also one of the activities to mark the anniversary.

Polish ambassador Wojciech Gerwel emphasised the significance of the celebration, expressing his delight at the opening of Transformation in Hà Nội.

He also expressed his thanks for the support that Việt Nam has given to Polish doctors in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

At her new solo exhibition, painter Kisiliczyk presents her abstract impressions on beautiful Southeast Asia’s nature, particularly of Việt Nam.

A painting entitled Born A New by Polish painter Marta Kisiliczyk. — Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum

“I have fallen deeply in love with the objects or landscapes I am painting,” she said. This is immediately apparent when viewing her rich and evocative images.

Born and educated in Poland, Kisiliczyk completed her master’s degree in painting and textile art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, where she enjoyed success at joint and solo exhibitions.

Following that, she lived in London for over a decade to reach a broader audience, establishing herself in one of the world’s most important art markets.

The painter’s deep connection with nature has been an endless and exciting source of inspiration for her art.

Pursuing a passion for travel, she has spent the last few years travelling the world discovering new landscapes and honing her perception of the natural world that inspires her oil paintings and murals.

She is currently living in Việt Nam, which has become a home to her for more than a year now.

Transformation will run until November 19. VNS


Your Vietnam

Wildlife trafficking rife in southern Vietnam



Tam Nong Market in Tram Chim Town, Dong Thap Province used to be a hotbed of wildlife trafficking in southern Vietnam.

Nowadays, however, the flood of endangered wildlife flowing into local markets from nearby Tram Chim National Park and Cambodia seems to have slowed, but across the region traffickers still breed and butcher rare animals.

Any animal in demand

Though the wildlife trade in Dong Thap is not what it once was, some vendors at Tam Nong Market still deal in rare animals.

Tam is one of these vendors.

Keeping a watchful eye of the turtles for sale at her stall, she agreed to deliver a large shipment of endangered turtles to an undercover reporter, provided that they would be set free at pagodas.

Tai, a vendor at the market who primarily deals in both live and frozen copperheads and banded kraits, claims himself as the biggest wildlife seller in Tam Nong.

Turtles up for sale at Thanh Hoa bird market in Long An. Photo: Tam Le / Tuoi Tre

Turtles up for sale at the Thanh Hoa bird market in Long An Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Tam Le / Tuoi Tre

When undercover reporters asked what other animals Tai had access to, he gladly led them to his home where three freezers filled with animal parts awaited. 

“The stork and night heron meat is fresh and newly-slaughtered,” he claimed.

“I have sold them to restaurants in Saigon and Binh Duong, and even sent them by air to Hai Phong [in the north].

“I pay delivery costs.”

According to Tai, most of the animals he sells are hunted in paddy fields and at Tram Chim National Park during flooding seasons. 

The conversation between Tai and the undercover reporters of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper was cut short when a woman, his wife, came rushing into the room.

“There is nothing to sell here, you should leave,” she said, pushing the reporters out the door.

‘Banned goods are kept in freezers’

About 20 kilometers from Tram Chim Town sits Tan Cong Sinh Market, where wildlife wholesalers abound.

One particular stall at the market caught the eye of undercover reporters thanks to a coterie of nets and traps displayed at its entrance.

Inside that stall sat Nhung, a middle-aged woman who claimed to have stork for sale.

“[Stork meat] is prohibited so I keep it in a freezer and don’t put it on display. I don’t want authorities to seize it and fine me,” she explained

In a dual-compartment freezer at her market stall, Nhung keeps “little egret and yellow bittern meat that is so fresh.”

Inside the freezer are 17 storks priced at VND180,000 (US$7.8) per individual.

Each weighs over a kilogram and Nhung offers discounts of VND10,000 ($0.43) to wholesalers.

When asked how she transports these endangered animals to buyers, Nhung explained that it is only difficult to send live animals.

One of the three large freezers full of storks at Tai’s house in Tram Chim Town, Dong Thap Province. Photo: D.Qui / Tuoi Tre

One of the three large freezers full of storks at Tai’s house in Tram Chim Town, Dong Thap Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: D.Qui / Tuoi Tre

“Transporting frozen meat is much easier. I just need to put it in a Styrofoam box and seal it with tape. If police check, I can just say it is another [legal] animal,” she said.

The storks are hunted in fields and forests, according to Nhung.

The hunters only call her after they have made a kill and she cannot guarantee products to customers in advance.

In nearby Long An Province, the once bustling rare bird trade at Thanh Hoa Bird Market in Thanh Hoa District is now kept under wraps following a crackdown authorities began at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approaching stall owners and claiming to be buyers in search of turtles to set free at pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City, Tuoi Tre’s undercover reporters were welcomed by sellers there.

“Turtles are available,” Oanh, a bird vendor said while leading the reporters to the back of her house.

Oanh then disappeared into a backroom and appeared a few minutes later with a bag of 15 medium-sized Mekong snail-eating turtles and an elongated tortoise.

“Yellow turtles are priced at VND500,000 [$21.5] per kilogram; elongated tortoise, VND400,000 [$17.2]; and the rest cost VND350,000 [$15.1],” Oanh said.

“The price is quite high because these turtles are hard to find during this season.

“Next season, it will become cheaper.”

At another stand, no turtles were on display but the owner led the reporters to a backroom where she opened a box with two turtles inside.

“The transport [of turtles] is currently difficult because forest rangers in civilian clothes often sit in front of the market, but I can still have the reptiles delivered to any bus station you want,” the owner’s husband said as he was handing his business card over to the reporters.

At another kiosk, when the undercover reporters asked to purchase barn-owls, the owner said they were not immediately available, but could easily be hunted at a cost of VND250,000 ($10.8) per owl.

About half an hour after leaving the kiosk, she called the reporters to say the barn owls were available.

The undercover reporters then visited yet another counter known as the largest bird stall at Thanh Hoa Bird Market and also for a large fine it received from local authorities for keeping a smooth coated otter.

Though the operator was wary of the undercover reporters, she immediately warmed up when asked about turtles to be set free at pagodas.

She then led the reporters to a locked door, behind which were three Mekong snail-eating turtles, four elongated tortoises, and 15 yellow-headed temple turtles, all attempting to escape the tank. 

Aggressive sales tactic

At Dieu Phap Pagoda in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, five stores specialize in the sale of wild animals.

These stores, in particular, are notorious as their owners are not afraid to swear at, threaten, or beat customers with whom they disagree.

A Malaysian hawk is up for sale at Tan Hung Market in Long An. Photo: D.Qui / Tuoi Tre

A Malaysian hawk is up for sale at Tan Hung Market in Long An Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: D.Qui / Tuoi Tre

Trung, the owner of a bird store at the pagoda, shared, “[My store] has turtles, but we must hide them because authorities often patrol this area.”

Inside Trung’s shop was a box with 1.5-kilogram Mekong snail-eating turtles.

The turtles’ shells bear bad luck, he claimed.

A woman near Trung’s shop then showed the undercover reporters a box of ornamental turtles priced at VND90,000 ($3.9) each.

When being asked about larger reptiles, the woman said she did not have any, though another compartment inside the same box held two elongated tortoises.

“How much are these elongated tortoises?” the reporters asked.

“They are very expensive; can you afford them?” she said, adding that they cost VND1.1 million ($47.3) each.

Animals hidden in plastic bags

There are ten bird stores on the street leading from the Xang Bridge to Tinh Quang Pagoda in Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Some of these stores keep rare turtles on display and the shopkeepers enthusiastically wave to customers.

Others discreetly observe customers before conducting transactions.

Be, the owner of a store specializing in birds, yellow turtles, and giant Asian pond turtles, said that she is able to transport these animals around the city by keeping them in black plastic bags.

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Archaeologists find traces of early humans in Bắc Kạn



HÀ NỘI  Archaeologists have found various traces of early humans in a karst mountain cave in Quảng Khê Commune, in the northern province of Bắc Kạn.

They have excavated Thẳm Un Cave and found that the cave’s foundation has been recently stirred up by cattle raised by locals. As a result, a cultural layer from an earlier time was revealed.

A hole of 3sq.m was made to research the culture deposits. Archaeologists have found two cultural layers lying directly on top of one another, without any border layer.

Archaeologists working at the site. Photos courtesy of the excavation team

The earlier cultural layer lies lower, measures 0.6-0.65m thick and is fairly hard, formed by clay. The dark brown layer contains objects like stone tools together with animals’ teeth and snail shells.

The cultural layer on top has a light grey colour and is made of crumbled soil. The layer contains fewer objects.

In the hole, traces of four fireplaces have been found at different positions and depths.

Although no tomb has been found in the cave, a total of 700 objects have been recovered, most of which are stone tools made from pebbles taken out of rivers and streams.

“Stone tools found in lower cultural layer have typical features of Bắc Sơn culture [10,000-8,000BC],” Associate Prof Trình Năng Chung, head of the excavation team.

An early stone axe, found for the first time in this area.

In the higher cultural layer, a well-polished axe was found, the first of its kind to be excavated from the Bắc Kạn mountains.

Various pieces of broken ceramic wares have been found, too. The core ceramic material was mixed with various kinds of vegetables, formed by hand with decorative patterns of twisting and gentle curves. It was baked at a low temperature.

Archaeologists have hypothesised that hunting and gathering fruits and vegetables were important food sources for these early humans.

Chung said based on the findings, researchers concluded that the cave was a residential area for many generations.

The earlier residents belonged to Bắc Sơn culture, dating 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, while the later residents belong to Post New Stone Age – Early Metal Age, dated some 4,000 years ago.

“Together with earlier findings in Ba Bể area, the discovery in Thẳm Un Cave brings us more knowledge of prehistoric cultures in Bắc Kạn and Việt Nam in general.

The cave will be further excavated in the future, he said. VNS

Some of the stone tools found in the cave.


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The rise of the savvy Gen Z investor



Illustration by Trịnh Lập

 by An Phương

The latest kids on the demographic block, Generation Z (1997 onwards), have had a lot happen in a short amount of time. This shapes their approach to life.

One interesting impact of this approach can be seen in their investing habits.

I recently had a chat with some of my younger friends on their financial plans and goals. The insights from the conversations were rewarding.

Growing up, I was used to seeing my mother trading in gold and real estate but never in my early twenties did I consider doing the same. Not so with Gen Z. They are more sophisticated, financially, and start their investing journey very early.

Anh Huy, 25, told me that he bought a small apartment and put it up for sale two months ago. 

“I was able to buy my first apartment with profits from trading in shares, salary from a 9-5 job and savings from my parents. I did borrow some money from the bank, but it wasn’t much. HCM City is a fast growing city and I have learnt that real estate, most of the time, is a stable investment.” Huy said.

“I am grateful for my parents’ support, despite their humble background. Perhaps my parents’ hardship has taught me to dream big for a better future,” Huy said, adding that he majored in finance and taught himself trading via the internet.

Huy’s journey has been one of ups and downs, but his determination makes me believe he has learnt valuable lessons.

“We should be open to all investing opportunities and ready to take risks, especially when the internet has made it easy to access information,” he said. I couldn’t agree more, except to add that accepting the results is part of the journey as well.

Gen Z, different from millennials like me, are more likely to embrace quick gains and stay away from traditional investing sites with long-term goals.

Quang Đăng, 26, felt strongly about investing three years ago. Despite a lack of confidence about his financial knowledge, he has invested heavily into the stock exchange market.

“I was grateful that I did not lose much money, given that the market went down significantly at the time. I used to believe that increased risk appetite and my tendency to monitor trade portfolios frequently was enough to be “safe””. I should have known better that the abundance of information available can lead to a false sense of security,” Đăng said.

It is understandable that as the first generation to grow up with smartphones and social media as part of daily life, Gen Z knows lots of things about finance, but I feel this knowledge is yet to gain depth on a lot of things.

“My friends and I love the feeling of ‘playing the game’. It’s difficult to put into words but sometimes a spark of joy is enough to go for a wild and risky adventure,” Đăng said.

In addition to easy access to information, the tendency to take risks and potential fear from witnessing previous generations’ hardship, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Gen Z to kick start their investing venture without much hesitation.

“The pandemic has taught a great lesson to those without savings. Young people nowadays have changed their perception of investment and are applying technology to manage their finances,” said 26-year-old Thanh Thuý.

The new generation has seen a promising jobs market shredded by the pandemic and unemployment soar, especially among bachelor degree holders who have just graduated in 2020 and 2021. Frustrated by lockdowns and dwindling work opportunities, I believe many people in Gen Z might want to try their luck in trading, including on the stock market.

“There’s no doubt that once the pandemic hit and everything went digital, it really made people focus on investing because it was one of the few activities we could do online!” Thuý added.

According to a report by the Việt Nam Securities Depository (VSD), in the first five months of 2021, the country’s stock market has registered nearly 480,500 new accounts opened by domestic investors. This exceeded by 20 per cent the number of newly opened accounts for the whole year of 2020, and 2.5 times more than in 2019.

The young generation is even familiar with exchanging digital assets, trading luxury goods and investing in ideas and creative content to feed themselves, using the two biggest social networking platforms today – TikTok and YouTube.

Đức Thịnh, 32, who currently works with an investment fund, reaffirmed that it doesn’t take Gen Z people long to get used to a daily life dominated by smartphones or social media. With a strong sense of money and personal finance, it is not surprising to see young and successful individuals in the market.

“That said, it is crucial that Gen Z invests in the foundation of everything – knowledge – because this is key to ensuring sustainable growth,” he stressed. VNS


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