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Serene ambience of Duong Lam historic village attracts visitors



Many people are moved by the vision of Duong Lam’s historic village, with its banyan trees, wells and common yards, evoking memories of their youth.

Images of Duong Lam old hamlet by Ms. Pham Ngoc Diep (born in 1986, Son Tay, Hanoi) have attracted notice from the travel enthusiast community.

Despite having grown up in the South, Ms. Diep has a strong connection to Son Tay as a place she has called home for the past decade. In her quest to capture the beauty of Vietnam’s landscapes on film, Ms. Diep has visited numerous locales around the nation, but Duong Lam, Son Tay, stands out as a particular favorite.

Duong Lam has been a place of pilgrimage for Ms. Diep for several years, where she has documented the daily lives of the locals and preserved their wonderful memories in light of the ancient village’s progressive demise and the mounting emergence of high-rise structures.

She used to have a large collection of images of Duong Lam posted on travel sites. Ms. Diep photographed the village gate, a banyan tree, elderly folks milling rice, cooking soy sauce, and other modest, rustic, and perhaps antiquated activities.

Diep said there are numerous scenes that are rarely seen in normal life, such as old individuals sitting on the porch sifting rice. She and her teacher, photographer Vu Anh Dung, had to discover and contact the elderly residents of the area, particularly those who were known for having their teeth dyed black, a common practice among Vietnamese ladies of the past.

Diep needed time to get to know, talk to, and confide in the elderly residents of Duong Lam in order to create the most realistic and heartfelt visuals possible.

“The old people have been so acquainted with me that every time I took photos of life in Duong Lam, they all warmly supported me and the crew,” Ms. Diep said.

In Duong Lam ancient village, soy sauce is a well-known delicacy. Soy sauce-making tradition here has been passed down through the generations for centuries. There are a few large jars of soy sauce in every household that may be used for cooking and selling throughout the year.

The flavor of Duong Lam soy sauce is unmistakable: sweet, fragrant and fleshy. Upon visiting a soy sauce producer’s home, you may learn about how traditional soy sauce is made, observe the steps involved, and purchase some to give away.

Ms. Diep routinely visits Duong Lam during the Lunar New Year to photograph elderly people sitting on the veranda, wrapping green Chung cake. Onlookers are drawn in by the rustic ambience of the century-old dwellings, adorned with peach branches, kumquat pots and crimson couplets.

Duong Lam historic village, located 45 kilometers from the heart of Hanoi, is a popular tourist destination for those looking to reconnect with their roots and experience rural life at its most authentic.

Banyan trees, wells, community yards, and antique residences with distinctive design made of laterite and ironwood still abound in this quaint northern town.

Duong Lam ancient village is the hometown of Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung, so it is called ‘the land of two kings’. When Duong Lam was designated the National Historical and Cultural Relic in 2006, it was considered the first old village in Vietnam.

Ancient pagodas in Duong Lam include the Mia and On pagodas, both of which have impressive architecture and illustrious pasts.

Several friends entrusted Ms. Diep to be a guide to conduct a tour of Duong Lam after seeing her stunning images of the historic village.

“As a guide for friends and family, I recently accepted an offer to arrange tours and welcome photography-loving delegations from across the provinces to Duong Lam, which I enjoyed very much. Tourists will be able to photograph traditional village activities, as well as the beautiful atmosphere of the area,” said Ms. Diep.

Duong Lam historic village is a short drive from Hanoi. Simply take Highway 32 from Hoai Duc to Dan Phuong, and then keep traveling straight until you arrive at the Duong Lam Ancient Village.

It’s safe and inexpensive to take a bus from the city center to Son Tay bus station if you’re not familiar with the road system. Taxis and motorbike taxis are readily available at Son Tay bus station for trips to Duong Lam hamlet. For a nominal fee, visitors to the community can stroll, or ride bicycles or electric scooters.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyếnVề làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

The serene setting is Duong Lam village’s Mong Phu gate, the northern region’s sole surviving historic village gate.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyếnVề làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

Many people’s memories of their childhoods are jogged by the photographs captured by Ms. Diep.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

“There are magnificent sun beams and a nice glow to the light at morning, so I normally photograph till 10:30 am. Smoke effects can be added to some images, depending on the subject matter,” shared Ms. Diep.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

An old lady diligently prepares soy sauce in her front yard.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyếnVề làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyếnVề làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyếnVề làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

An ethereal and serene temple, Mia Pagoda has been around for centuries.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

There are many photographers that visit the historic town in search of tranquility and timelessness.

Về làng cổ Đường Lâm, ngắm cảnh yên bình khiến lòng người xao xuyến

Ms. Diep spent a considerable amount of time exploring the historical hamlet and falling in love with its natural splendors.

Linh Trang

Photo: Pham Ngoc Diep


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Sơn La festival promotes local tourism and ethnic culture



SƠN LA — Hundreds of artists staged a stunning performance to open the Sơn La Province’s Tourism and Cultural Festival on Saturday night at the Mộc Châu National Tourism Area in the northern mountainous province.

Standing vice-chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Trần Thanh Mẫn, former standing vice-chairwoman of the NA, Tòng Thị Phóng, Chairman of the NA’s Ethnic Council Y Thanh Hà Niê K’đăm, and Sơn La Provincial Party Secretary Nguyễn Hữu Đông, participated in the event.

Artists stage a stunning art performance to open the Sơn La Province’s Tourism and Cultural Festival on Saturday. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức

Themed “The World’s Leading Regional Nature Destination”, the festival is an opportunity to connect cultural-tourism products, promote tourism development, attract investment in tourism, and simultaneously create distinctive tourism products.

Speaking to open the festival, the Chairman of the Sơn La Provincial People’s Committee, Hoàng Quốc Khánh, said that the festival is not only to create a new development step for Sơn La’s tourism economy but also to strengthen the cooperation between the province and other localities in Việt Nam and other countries.

“This is also an opportunity for businesses in the tourism industry to improve their product quality associated with conserving and promoting cultural identities,” he said. “The distinctive, professional, and attractive tourism products can magnet domestic and international tourists.”

Standing vice-chairman of the National Assembly (NA), Trần Thanh Mẫn and other authority officers participate in the event. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Đức

The festival features an interesting agenda of diversified activities presenting unique local ethnic culture. Those include the plum harvesting festival in Mộc Châu District, home to the best plums in Việt Nam.  

An off-road motor race in Vân Hồ District and a photo contest are also on the festival agenda. Festival-goers can learn about the rich culture of various ethnic groups living in the province through the display presenting traditional costumes and typical architecture or through a fair showcasing ethnic gastronomy and handicraft products made by ethnic people.

“Through their own experience at the festival, visitors will have an impression of special unique tourism products that present the ethnic identity of Sơn La Province as well as the warm hospitality of Sơn La people,” Chairman Khánh said. “They can also realise the transformation and development of the province, being a great place to visit.”

Founder and president of the World Travel Awards, Graham Cooke (centre), poses with leaders of Vân Hồ and Mộc Châu districts, which have been praised as The World’s Leading Regional Natural Destination” in 2022 by the World Travel Awards. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyết

Also at the opening ceremony on Saturday, founder and president of the World Travel Awards, Graham Cooke, has given a trophy to honour Mộc Châu-Vân Hồ in Sơn La as “The World’s Leading Regional Natural Destination” in 2022. — VNS


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A memorable summer with fireworks and fun festivals in Đà Nẵng



ĐÀ NẴNG  Colourful fireworks performances at the Đà Nẵng International Fireworks Festival (DIFF), together with numerous cultural festivals at Bà Nà Hills, promise to offer tourists an unforgettable summer.

Magic of fireworks

The vibrant summer days in the coastal city of Đà Nẵng will begin with the return of DIFF 2023.

Taking place from June 2 to July 8 by the Hàn River, the event will feature stunning fireworks performances by international teams, including the UK, Italy, Poland, France, Australia, Canada, Finland and the host team Đà Nẵng.

Through five nights with five different themes: “Peace for Humanity”, “Love without Borders”, “Conquering Dreams”, “Dance of Nature”, and “World without Distance”, the fireworks performances will send the audience a special note honouring the recovery of world tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Đà Nẵng International Fireworks Festival has returned after three years of interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event takes place from June 2 to July 8 by Hàn River. — Photo courtesy of DIFF

During the festival, the night sky in Đà Nẵng will turn out to be a perfect backdrop for beautiful paintings created by colourful and splendid fireworks performances.

The Polish team will showcase the Firework Dragon, while the British team will stage the Light Up The World presenting the human resilience to overcome the global pandemic.

The host Việt Nam has prepared an extremely elaborate light show with the theme Đà Nẵng – Peaceful Timbre, Canada and France will amaze spectators with Northern Lights and Colours of Hope, while Italy and Australia will offer a feast of light and music.

Festivals at Bà Nà Hills

Alongside DIFF 2023, this summer, at Sun World Bà Nà Hills, tourists can enjoy several festivals, which are among a series of events called Bà Nà WOW Festival – Wonderland without Distance.

The best culture and art of different countries in the world will all be presented at the wonderland of Bà Nà. The bustling atmosphere of the German Oktoberfest will be recreated, offering tourists a chance to enjoy one of the biggest festivals in the world, where festival-goers can sip 20 different kinds of beer while enjoying famous cuisine.

During June, fans of Hallyu or Korean Wave will be able to “live their passion” with the Korean Cultural Festival. Trendy K-pop songs, exciting dances, popular dishes, and several traditional Korean games, will be presented at Bà Nà.

Sun World Bà Nà Hills will host numerous of interesting cultural festivals during summer. — Photo courtesy of Sun Group

On June 3, Vietnamese celebrity singer Hồ Ngọc Hà will have her concert Love Songs – Love Vietnam, which is expected to be a special entertainment event for music lovers.

In July, visiting Bà Nà, any tourist who is in love with French culture and French wine, will be delighted with a series of activities honouring French culture, of which the celebration of “100 Years of Bà Nà Wine Cellar” will be a highlight.

Besides, tourism-magnet hotspots such as Golden Bridge, Moon Castle, and the French Village, promise to enhance the excitement of tourists visiting Bà Nà.

Specialities of ‘kimchi land’

Coming to Đà Nẵng this summer, alongside the DIFF 2023, guests can also enjoy a full agenda of impressive activities at Asia Park.

A hotspot for young people, the ongoing “M-Pack Festival & Carnival Street Food” features a beer and soju [a Korean alcoholic drink made from rice or sweet potatoes] festival, K-pop dance, and food carnival.

DJ parties will be held every Saturday with the performance of popular DJs. In addition, art shows presenting Vietnamese traditional art forms, and K-pop concerts will be taking place monthly until September 20.

If tourists want to fly high into the clouds and enjoy the Đà Nẵng City landscape from a bird’s-eye view, they should take a hot air balloon flight available for the first time at Asia Park.

Especially, Asia Park provides a special offer for pupils and students with all-in-one tickets for only VNĐ120,000. With this ticket, junior visitors can enjoy all the outdoor games and a ride on the Sun Wheel to contemplate the panorama of Đà Nẵng City from above. They can also enjoy puppet shows by guest artists from the Huế Theatre.

A celebration of “100 Years of Bà Nà Wine Cellar” will be the highlight of a festival dedicating to French culture. — Photo courtesy of Sun Group

Shows across the city

The DIFF 2023 will not only light up the Hàn River but also bring the hectic atmosphere to every popular sightseeing spot across the city with numerous art and cultural shows.

During June, the Street Music and Magic programme will take place in Southern Park on the west bank of the Dragon Bridge.

Different kinds of Vietnamese traditional music will be presented every Saturday and Sunday night during June and July on the east bank of the Dragon Bridge, on Trần Hưng Đạo Road.

Exhibitions displaying antique ceramic objects, and traditional Japanese dolls are taking place at the Đà Nẵng Museum and the Đà Nẵng Museum of Fine Arts, respectively.

The photo exhibition The Colourful Conversation of Two Rivers at the APEC Park is another suggestion for visiting tourists.  VNS


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Hà Nội’s ‘catwoman’ houses abandoned felines



CAT LADY: Nguyễn Thúy Hải has been rescuing hundreds of abandoned felines in Hà Nội over the past 24 years. VNS Photo Minh Phương

By Minh Phương

HÀ NỘI – Having rescued hundreds of felines in the capital city over the past two decades, it should come as no surprise that Nguyễn Thúy Hải is nickednamed ‘Catwoman’.

Despite living in a small apartment, Hải currently shares her space with 29 cats. Her love for these creatures is clear for all to see; she has sacrificed the only bedroom in her flat for their comfort.

“I’ve always considered cats good friends, but I started keeping this big family about 24 years ago after seeing a number of abandoned, injured or ill-treated cats,” she said.

“The amount of cats I have saved is huge, so it’s hard to remember the exact number. But I think a few hundred.”

Hải has a special way of naming the cats, choosing names that reflect their unique characteristics. Each animal leaves their own mark in her memory.

“Every cat coming to my house in an extremely pitiful situation. I remember a cat named Khoang,” Hải said.

FELINE FINE: Khoang is saved from paralysis, she now can walk and run. VNS Photo Minh Phương

“One afternoon, two children brought a cat in a cloth bag to my house. They heard people say that only I could save the cat. I couldn’t refuse the two kids. I saved the cat from paralysis, and now Khoang can walk. She can’t walk like a normal cat, but I’m delighted that she can move around. She has lived here with me for seven years.”

Hải’s efforts in rescuing cats have touched the lives of hundreds of felines, each with their own heartbreaking stories.

Whether they are lost or abandoned, Hải makes it her mission to reunite them with their owners or find them new homes. Those injured will receive proper medical care, and if no one comes back to bring them home, she provides a home for them.

“If a cat is beautiful, clean and healthy, no one will let it down. People only abandon it when it’s sick and almost impossible to live with. They don’t want to waste their time and money, so they just abandon them,” she said.

Hải’s dedication to cats goes beyond providing them with a home; she devotes all her time to their wellbeing. She has not been able to arrange a holiday for herself or leave the house often, as the cats need her constant care.

DEDI-CAT-ED: Hải’s dedication to the cats goes beyond providing them with a home; she devotes all her time to their wellbeing. VNS Photo Nhật Hồng

Her days begin early, as she prepares meals and medicines for all the cats. Every day, the felines are nourished with porridge supplemented with vitamins to ensure their health.

“I always wake up at 7am to prepare meals and medicine for all the cats. First I have to clean where they live, then I mix the porridge and feed the cats that can’t feed themselves,” Hải said.

“To take care of all 29, the work goes on until about 2pm. Then I can rest for a while until their afternoon treat. In the evening, I feed them around 10. Three meals a day is enough to keep them healthy.”

Hải has found happiness in her life alongside the cats she cares for as if they were her own children. She hopes that pet owners will become more responsible, and understanding of the commitment and care required in raising them.

“I will continue rescuing and caring for these cats while I still have the health and strength. But I hope that there is a kind-hearted person out there willing to adopt them and give them a happy life,” she said.

“I just want to say that if you raise cats, you must give them a safe life, and be loving and responsible.” – VNS


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