HÀ NỘI — A new exhibition to be held on Côn Đảo Island from July 17 will look at the horrible conditions Vietnamese patriots faced when they were captured during the resistance wars against the French and the US.
Organised by Hỏa Lò prison monuments management board and Côn Đảo National Monument Conservation Centre, the Words of Gratitude exhibition aims to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the War Invalids and Martyrs Day that falls on July 27.
According to the organisation board, each document, artefact and image displayed in the exhibition will help viewers understand more about such “hells on earth” and the noble sacrifices of the patriots who died for national independence and freedom.
Words of Gratitude is divided into two main parts, the first of which includes stories about special “battlefields” – the system of prisons of the enemies. Though there was not much gunfire on this battlefield, it was where the bodies and lives of so many Vietnamese patriots were claimed during the wars to protect the nation.
At Hỏa Lò Prison, built during the colonial time right in the heart of Hà Nội, the lives of revolutionary fighters were constant struggles against the harsh imprisonment conditions for basic survival needs like water, food, mats or blankets.
Meanwhile, Sơn La Prison in the northern province of Sơn La is widely known among generations of Vietnamese due to its brutal conditions amidst the deep forest, with dark rooms of solid bricks and stones and three-metre-underground cells.
When the wooden door closed, each cell turned into a closed box in which the prisoners had to lie down and could not tell apart day and night. The solitary confinement used to house patriots like Tô Hiệu, Nguyễn Lương Bằng and Trần Huy Liệu who significantly contributed to the revolution.
One of the most hated government buildings in colonial Sài Gòn, the Maison Centrale de Saigon (Khám Lớn Sài Gòn) or Saigon Central Prison, included solitary confinement areas, cells for prisoners waiting to be executed, a guillotine room and execution area. It was the largest prison in Cochinchina, one of the symbols for the French colonial ruling system in the region at the time.
The exhibition will also feature Côn Đảo prison, dubbed “hell on earth” far from the mainland, where Vietnamese patriots had to deal with sophisticated and brutal imprisonment apparatus and starvation in the so-called tiger cages.
Other notorious addresses such as Phú Quốc prison, Tân Hiệp prison and Chí Hòa prison will also be introduced.
The organising board will also exhibit many quotations and inspiring messages of revolutionary fighters before being executed like Nguyễn Đức Cảnh, Nguyễn Văn Cừ and Hà Huy Tập.
Part of the exhibition will be dedicated to famous prison breaks in Vietnamese history.
The most outstanding break was that of Côn Đảo prisoners on December 1952. Huge waves and fierce winds submerged the rudimentary boats made by the prisoners. Discovering the break, the enemies launched a fierce chase, arresting 117 revolutionary soldiers and claiming 81 lives.
The second part of the exhibition, also entitled Words of Gratitude, features post-war stories, told via images of thousands of no-name tombs in national Trường Sơn and Vị Xuyên war martyrs cemeteries.
The exhibition will run until July 31. —
Da Nang villa welcomes nature with brick facade
A baked-brick villa in Da Nang built by a retired couple features vast swaths of open space.
It is built on a 400 sq.m plot in a quiet neighborhood in the central city with a view of a lake and greenery. So architects designed an L-shaped building with open spaces so that the occupants could enjoy the views unimpeded.
The geometric roof gives the villa a classy look.
The latticed brick facade lets in light and wind.
A closer look at the facade. The homeowners wanted to use local materials such as baked bricks, which were used as early as in the fourth century in Da Nang.
The kitchen, and living and dining rooms are on the ground floor and interconnected. They are enclosed by latticed walls.
The occupants can regulate the wind and light entering the house with glass windows.
A corridor on the first floor.
The construction materials were chosen for their sturdiness, climate resistance and looks and their ability to harmonize with the surroundings.
Photos by Hiroyuki Oki
IRED launches “The Story of Civilization” book series in Vietnamese
|Educationist Gian Tu Trung, president of IRED Institute of Education, speaks at the launch ceremony of the “The Story of Civilization” book set in Vietnamese – PHOTO: MINH TUAN|
HCMC – On October 22, the IRED Institute of Education launched the “The Story of Civilization” book series by Will Durant and Ariel Durant, one of the most popular and successful book series about history, in Vietnamese.
The 11-volume set of books was written by husband and wife Will and Ariel Durant in more than five decades. With a total of up to 50 books, “The Story of Civilization” covers 2,500 years of the history of humans.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, educationist Gian Tu Trung, president of IRED, said the “The Story of Civilization” book set has been translated into many different languages around the world, but this is the first time that the entire set has been translated into Vietnamese.
“IRED worked very hard to earn the rights to translate the entire set into Vietnamese, aimed at helping not only scholars, historians and researchers but also all readers in Vietnam have better access to knowledge about typical civilizations throughout history,” he said.
According to Trung, the book set is like a history dictionary, so the readers do not need to read the whole set but can pick any books about the civilizations they are interested in.
Durant said his purpose of writing the series was not to create a definitive scholarly production but to make a large amount of information accessible and comprehensible to the educated public in the form of a comprehensive composite history.
It depicts all aspects of every civilization, from wars to cultural heritage, great persons, religions, literature, science, philosophy, arts and even the rise of mass media, which contributed to the formation, development and also the collapse of the civilizations.
The series won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 with the 10th volume titled “Rousseau and Revolution”. Will Durant was then awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.
IRED has released three volumes of the series, including the first volume “Our Oriental Heritage”, the 10th volume “Rousseau and Revolution” and the 11th volume “The Age of Napoleon”. Other volumes are expected to be published until 2022.
The nostalgia of cốm the flavour of autumn
HÀ NỘI — Autumn has arrived in Hà Nội with gentle breezes tenderly penetrating street corners, replacing the summer heat and scattering bunches of yellow leaves on the pavements.
It is also time for women from Vòng Village in Dịch Vọng Ward, Cầu Giấy District to produce and sell their cốm (green sticky rice) – one of Hà Nội’s culinary specialities.
For most Hanoians, cốm and its related products made in Vòng Village are among the capital’s most important flavours of autumn, packed full of nostalgia. It is a symbol of gastronomy and elegance due to its a signature colour, flexibility and flavour which cốm from nowhere else can compete with.
The delicate but fragrant green grains reflect the labour, love and passion of the rice growers and cốm producers. It seems to be able to deposit the essence of the earth, the heavens, the scent of sunshine and wind.
Many have said staying in the capital without savouring cốm would be a major shortcoming of a Hà Nội experience.
How cốm comes to life
Legend has it that one autumn a thousand years ago when farmers in Vòng Village were going to harvest their sticky rice, a storm came and caused huge damage to the crops.
The villagers tried to pick the remaining green rice from the storm-torn paddy fields and brought it home to stir fry.
The rice became a newly-invented dish and had helped them survive through hard days. Through generations, locals added more skills during the processing of cốm until they found it tasted so good that it eventually became more perfect and even went beyond the village to win the favour of all the citizens.
Ever since then, villagers have made cốm every autumn when the green rice is ready to harvest.
To make cốm, villagers work hard from about 5am to pick green sticky rice jewelled with dew.
Skill and hard work are needed to make authentic cốm flat, lime-green, chewy, sticky and smell pleasant like the scent of green rice, so many of the makers have to learn how to make cốm from a very young age.
The speciality is sold by street vendors or in shops. It can also be found on the breakfast or buffet menu of many hotels in Hà Nội.
There are also cốm cakes – a Vietnamese must-have for happy occasions, including weddings and Lunar New Year. —
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