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Photo exhibition depicts strong relations between Việt Nam and Laos

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SƠN LA — The close friendship between Việt Nam and Laos is depicted through a photo exhibition in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La.

Entitled Sắt Son Tình Nghĩa Việt-Lào (The Việt-Lao Eternal Gratitude), the event, which takes place at the special national relic of Sơn La Prison, is an activity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Việt Nam and Laos, and the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the two countries.  

The exhibition aims to convey to all the party members and people about the special friendship and solidarity between the two neighbouring countries through historical periods. — Photo nhandan.vn

More than 100 photos in the exhibition highlight two major topics – ‘Việt Nam Deeply Instills Solidarity’, and ‘The Việt Nam-Laos Revolutionary Historical Site – The Base of the North Lao Volunteer Committee’.

The exhibition has told the historical stories of different periods of time between the two countries, from the establishment of the alliance and diplomatic relations (during 1930-1975) to the solidarity, friendship and cooperation in the cause of national defence and development (during 1976-1986), and the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation over the past 36 years since the renewal in Việt Nam (1986-2022).

The photos also depict the cooperation and assistance of Việt Nam’s Sơn La Province and northern Lao provinces in various fields. Especially, the exhibition presents documents and images of Phiêng Sa Village, where the Northern Lao Volunteer Committee was established. Other images of the Việt Nam-Laos revolutionary historical relic site also are on display.

Director of the Sơn La Provincial Museum Ngô Thị Hải Yến said that the exhibition aims to convey to all the cadres, party members and people about the special friendship and solidarity between the two neighbouring countries through historical periods since Vietnamese President Hồ Chí Minh and Lao President Kaysone Phomvihane laid the foundation.

After that, generations of leaders of the Party, State and people of the two countries have continued to develop the mutual relationship.

Visitors of all ages seen at the Việt-Laos Eternal Gratitude exhibition. — Photo nhandan.vn

“The exhibition is also to praise the close relationship between Sơn La Province and the provinces of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic as well as the historical value of the Việt Nam-Laos revolutionary relic site. This is the place witnessing the revolutionary activities of Lao President Kaysone Phomvihane and the Northern Lao Volunteer Committee in the 1948-1951 period in Phiêng Sa Village, now Lao Khô I Village, Phiêng Khoai Commune, Yên Châu District, Sơn La Province.”

Kongmongyang Xaichou, a Lao student at the Sơn La College who visited the exhibition, said: “The exhibition vividly depicts the friendship and solidarity between Việt Nam and Laos. I am living and studying very well in Việt Nam. Here, I can feel the close attachment and the solidarity between the people of the two countries.”

The Việt-Laos Eternal Gratitude exhibition opens to public until the end of September. — VNS
 

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/events/photo-exhibition-depicts-strong-relations-between-viet-nam-and-laos_337027.html

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Vietnamese woman brings new life to village of alcoholics

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A woman saves the life of alcoholics in Dak Pao Village, Son Mau Commune, Son Tay District, Quang Ngai Province. Alcohol used to be their barrier to poverty reduction in the village. 

Dinh Thi Hang, chairwoman of Son Mau Commune Women’s Union, is this woman. She helped locals fight against alcohol “ghost” in Dak Pao mountainous village.

Village of alcoholics

The path from the heart of Son Mau Commune to Dak Pao Village is as charming as a painting in the cool weather. Hills stretch to the horizon while local farmers are in the fields.

Dak Pao is home to Ca Dong ethnic people.

Hang said that several years ago, it was common to see drunken men lying next to their motorbikes on the streets in Dak Pao. 

“Ca Dong people often drink, but in Dak Pao, they drink too much. They drink until they get drunk and fall.

“Their health may not be good enough to work with the drinking habit. The number of alcoholic men was higher than the number of working men,” said Hang.

Of course, the poverty in the village was the result of drinking.

Figures showed this fact. The village had 50 households but half of them were poor.

Every home had alcoholics. In some families, both the wife and husband were drinkers. 

As their kids were not taken care of, teachers and the local government were forced to step in.

Hang said people called it the alcohol “ghost” village instead of Dak Pao. 

Dak Pao is half-hidden in Truong Son Dong Forest, where the real torments were caused by alcoholic drinks.

Domestic violence was among them. Drunken men lost their minds and beat their wives and children.

When the husband could drink, his wife also drank. They drank despite their poverty. 

“Although officials came to advise them, they deeply abused alcohol, causing domestic violence. The broken-hearted scene I witnessed was kids having cold meals while their parents got drunk,” Hang shared. 

Fighting against alcohol “ghost”

Son Tay is the poorest area in Vietnam. Poverty reduction and education are going to be key targets in the next few years. 

However, its economy has improved in recent years. 

In June 2019, Son Mua Commune People’s Committee and Party Committee hosted a meeting on local economic development.

Hang attended the meeting and proposed getting rid of alcohol drinking in Dak Pao, which was the best way to help the village escape poverty. 

The Son Mau Commune authorities totally agreed with her.

Dinh Thi Hang (right) talks to Dinh Thi Vum, whose husband used to be an alcoholic. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre
Dinh Thi Hang (right) talks to Dinh Thi Vum, whose husband used to be an alcoholic. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre

Years ago, villagers chose alcohol rather than their job. Officials even saw them getting drunk in the afternoon although they had just advised them to give it up in the morning. 

Hang proposed her plan “Women say no to alcohol drinks” and conducted the plan in Dak Pao first.

“I think that women are easily approached as they may be too tired of drunken men in their family,” said Hang. 

Hang knew that it was such a difficult journey but villagers could not get rid of poverty if they continued drinking. 

The Son Tay Commune Women’s Union set up a team to oversee villagers. 

Her plan finally got the initial rosy results. More and more villagers gave up drinking and returned to their fields.

“Those getting back to farming work become a mirror of others,” shared Hang. 

A new life in Dak Pao 

Dinh Van Ton and his wife Dinh Thu Muoi both used to be alcoholics. They now have a better life thanks to Hang’s team. 

The couple was punished many times because of getting drunk as they had committed legally themselves to giving up drinking before.

When they got sober, the couple realized that they received a lot of punishment records. 

Since then, they stayed away from drinking and their mental health was better, too. 

Currently, to earn their living, Muoi collects wattle tree bark while her husband collects coffee beans in the Central Highlands. 

“I feel better since I stopped drinking. So does my husband. We now try to work to make a living,” Muoi said with a smile. 

Like the couple, Dinh Thi Vum’s husband used to be an alcoholic. When he got drunk, he beat his wife Vum.

She could not stand him and even walked 20 kilometers in a forest to return to her parent’s home with her kids. 

Hang and her team had to advise Vum and her husband. Fortunately, the husband realized his mistake and apologized to Vum. He also promised to stop drinking. 

“My family got better thanks to Hang. We now have enough money to build a new house,” said Vum. 

The family of Dinh Thi Nhieu also got a good result when giving up drinking.

“I feel happy since I stopped drinking. My kids now study better,” Nhieu said.

Dak Pao currently has only 15 poor households. Many local students have passed the university entrance exams.

The fight against alcohol further expanded

After three years, Hang’s plan to fight against drinking in Dak Pao has been successful.

Ca Dong ethnic people cannot totally stop drinking, but at least there is no scene of people drinking and falling on the streets. 

According to Dinh Van Lia, chairman of Son Mau Commune People’s Committee, the plan helps raise awareness about drinking and it is going to be conducted in the other three villages in the commune. 

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/features/20221130/vietnamese-woman-brings-new-life-to-village-of-alcoholics/70258.html

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HCM City to host ASEAN food festival

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SOUTHEAST ASIAN SPECIALTIES: Vietnamese cuisine will be presented at the ASEAN Food Festival held in HCM City from November 24-27. VNA/VNS Photo Mỹ Phương

HCM CITY HCM City is hosting a food festival featuring traditional cuisine from Southeast Asian countries in the downtown area from November 24-27.

The event is organised by the HCM City Union of Friendship Organisations (HUFO) and its partners, the Việt Nam–ASEAN Friendship Organisation, to mark the 55th anniversary of the South-East Asian block.

Hồ Xuân Lâm, HUFO’s vice chairman, said the event aimed to promote friendship and cooperation among people in Việt Nam and other ASEAN countries.

The festival includes 46 stalls showcasing food, tea, coffee and specialities from restaurants and businesses from Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Việt Nam, as well as universities and colleges in the city.

There will be performances of traditional music and dance from ASEAN countries, street art performances and cooking shows.

The festival takes place on Lê Lợi Street on District 1, and is expected to attract a large number of visitors. — VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/events/hcm-city-to-host-asean-food-festival_339481.html

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Cỗ lá, the food tray that demonstrates Mường ethnic culture in Hòa Bình

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Thúy Hằng

For Mường ethnic people, especially those living in Hòa Bình Province, cỗ lá (literally means a food tray displaying several dishes) is more than just a popular food. The food tray represents Mường culture and is an integral part of important occasions, weddings, funerals, New Year or new house celebrations.

A traditional food that has been kept and inherited from generation to generation of Mường people, cỗ lá is unique – from the selection of ingredients to the way of cooking and the food presentation – through which to present the conception of human life of Mường people.

Cỗ lá is very unique presents the conception about human life of Mường people. — VNS Photos Thúy Hằng

Bùi Xuân Phú and wife Nguyễn Thị Vi run Mường Thàng Quán – a restaurant specialising in Mường dishes in Hòa Bình City for 20 years. To create the distinctive yet natural light sweetness of the dishes, all dishes presented on cỗ lá should be prepared with wild leaves and vegetables collected in forests or gardens.

“Depending on the scale of the event, a cỗ lá should consist of at least seven different dishes, including the compulsory ones of cỗ ngọn (slices of boiled pig liver, heart, and maw), boiled pork, chả lá bưởi (grilled pork in pomelo leaves), grilled pork in banana leaves, gà đồ măng chua (steamed chicken with sour bamboo shoots), rau đồ (steamed wild vegetable), and canh loóng chuối (soup cooked with wild banana stem),” Vi said.

The Mường woman also said that it takes at least one and a half hours to prepare a cỗ lá because “you have to finish cooking all the dishes before displaying them all on the tray.”

Gà đồ măng chua (steamed chicken with sour bamboo shoots). 

To grill the pork, Vi said that it’s necessary to marinate with lá mắc mật (clausen indica leaves) and hạt dổi (wild pepper) to get the aromatic flavour for the meat.

The steamed chicken with sour bamboo shoots should be chopped into bite-sized pieces before mixing with sour bamboo shoots and a little bit of salt, then wrapped in banana leave and steamed for about half an hour.

“The tip to making this dish good is the ingredients. Hen is preferred as its texture is more tender. To make the sour bamboo shoot, we use only the bamboo shoot of giang (a kind of green-trunk bamboo) as it retains the natural sweetness after being fermented,” Vi revealed her cooking tricks.

The savoury and palatable canh loóng chuối is cooked with wild banana stem, pig bone, and lá lốt – a kind of aromatic leaves.

Canh loóng chuối is cooked with wild banana stem, pig bone, and lá lốt – a kind of aromatic leaves. 

Her husband Phú said there are some rules for the presentation of cỗ lá.

“The presentation of a cỗ lá for a wedding or festive event must be different from the one for a funeral,” he said. “A tray must be spread with a banana leaf cut in half. However, for the wedding, the tip of the leaf has to point out; on the contrary, for a funeral, the tip has to point in.”

In the old days, Mường people used only wild banana leaves to spread on the tray. But nowadays, when finding wild bananas is inconvenient, they can replace by other kinds of banana leaves, except the aromatic banana “because it has lots of acrid resin that can harm the taste and flavour of the food displayed on it,” Phú said.

He also said that to prepare cỗ lá for important occasions such as weddings or new year celebrations, each family has raised pigs and chicken for a year before butchering the best ones to offer to the ancestors.

In the past, wealthy families used an engraved copper tray to display cỗ lá while ordinary people used the bamboo tray.

According to the 65-year-old restauranteur, seating arrangement rules had to be followed in the old days.

“In the Mường stilt house, the side with windows has been specified as the ‘upper place’, which is for elders only, and the younger ones sit next, in order from old to young,” Phú said.

Nguyễn Thị Vi, co-owner of Mường Thàng Quán, a restaurant specialising in Mường dishes in Hòa Bình City, demonstrates how to present a cỗ lá. 

Due to modernisation, traditional custom has been fading. Many can not speak the Mường ethnic language, and they don’t use the correct Vietnamese word when they mention cỗ lá.

“Many of our guests, especially the young ones, when they place an order for cỗ lá, instead of asking for a mâm cỗ lá (a tray of cỗ lá), they used mẹt cỗ lá (flat winnowing basket of cỗ lá). In our culture, the flat winnowing basket is used to offer food for the Hungry Ghost,” Phú said.

Nguyễn Xuân Tùng, a tourist from Hà Nội, said that although he had many chances to taste cỗ lá when he travelled to many places in the northwestern region, the one he sampled at Mường Thàng Quán is the best.

“It’s not only about the food, but about the rich ethnic culture presented through every dish, especially the traditional customs and stories told by the restaurant owners, who are authentic Mường people,” Tùng said. — VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/life-in-vietnam/co-lathe-food-tray-that-demonstrates-muong-ethnic-culture-in-hoa-binh_339592.html

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