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The ancient house with gilded treasures in Hanoi

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There is a house over 100 years old in Truong Yen in Hanoi’s suburban district of Chuong My that has a unique gold-plated Thieu Chau (a kind of wood-made, gate-shaped item to decorate altars) 

that has been hunted by many antique collectors, but the owner has refused to sell.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
The owner of this special house is Mr. Trinh Van Hung. The house has laterite walls, with the roof, columns and beams made of iron, jackfruit and bead-tree wood.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
Mr. Hung said the house was built in the early 20th century on an area of 900m2. Experiencing many ups and downs, the house campus is currently only 300m2. This is the asset of the Trinh family.
Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
The first owner of the house was Mr. Trinh Van Tac – a mandarin in feudal times. Mr. Tac then sold the house to Mr Hung’s grandparents, who were relatives of Mr. Tac.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
Mr. Hung said the house has a special history. In the past, local people believed that it was not good to cut down trees to build a new house. Therefore, Mr. Tac bought the frame of an old wooden house in Quoc Oai (Hanoi’s suburban district today) to build on his land, which is the house today.
Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
Mr. Trinh Van Hung and his wife.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
The house is designed in the traditional style, with 3 major rooms and 2 small rooms.
Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
The room in the middle is the place of worship, with the altar and the unique gold-plated Thieu Chau, which is exquisitely carved with patterns of floral, leaves, rabbits, squirrels, birds…. Mr. Hung and his descendants consider Thieu Chau as the treasure of their family. Many antique traders have offered high prices to buy the Thieu Chau but Hung has refused.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội

The main roof is carved with patterns of dragons and phoenixes.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
Outside the door is the old cuon thu (wood-made plate in form of a painting hang on the altar). Some of the motifs on this cuon thu are also gold plated.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
The ironwood pillars
Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội
The house’s buc ban (wood doors in traditional style) and the floor, which was formaly tiled with Bat Trang tiles, have been renewed as the old ones were ruined by time.

Ngôi nhà hơn 100 tuổi chứa bảo vật dát vàng ở Hà Nội

The frame, bars and pillars of the old house are still there but they are being destroyed by worms. Mr. Hung said that his family plans to repair the house to ensure safety for their family, but he also wants to preserve it as a cultural destination. However, the family cannot make the repairs yet as they do not have enough funding.

Dieu Binh

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/travel/the-ancient-house-with-gilded-treasures-in-hanoi-661331.html

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Where you can’t beef about making a meal of offal

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There are three pha lau eateries that Saigon food enthusiasts will swear by, each for a different version of the traditional offal stew.

At the nation’s pha lau hub, Saigon, many a local will tell you they prefer three places where this popular Vietnamese dish of Chinese origin is made with pork, beef or duck.

Oanh’s joint

Nestled in a small valley near District 4’s Xom Chieu Market, Oanh’s Pha Lau is a must-visit place on a food tour to this market. Despite the cramped space and its location being difficult to find for newcomers, the shop is often full of customers. The average price for one serving is VND25,000 ($1.1).

Bowls of pha lau at Oanhs Pha Lau. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy.

Bowls of pha lau at Oanh’s Pha Lau. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy.

The main ingredient of the pha lau in this eatery is beef offal – liver, stomach and tripe. The owner selects the ingredients from the market very early in the morning and carefully processes them so they don’t let off any unsavory smell when cooking.

On collecting an order, Oanh starts to cut the offal into bite-sized chunks. Then she puts them in a bowl then adds fragrant, dense broth rendered richer with coconut cream. The long-shimmered beef offal is tender, juicy and crunchy. The dipping sauce adds a pungent flavor. The eatery also serves bread as a side dish for the stew. Broth refill is free.

The shop at 200/48 Xom Chieu, District 4 has been around for 20 years and opens from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Di Nui’s unique recipe

District 4 hosts Di Nui’s (Aunt Nui’s), another eatery popular among the city’s pha lau aficionados. This eatery stands out in that it serves the classic stewed beef pha lau, and a fried version, which is particularly favored by the younger crowd.

This eatery, also run for over 20 years, has its trade secret – a combination of spices to give the dish a unique taste.

Di Nuis pha lau with bread and pha lau noodle. Photo by mia_mai_nguyen.

Di Nui’s pha lau with bread and pha lau noodle. Photo by mia_mai_nguyen.

Besides bread as a side dish, the shop at 243/30 Ton Dan Street, District 4 also serves instant noodles to go with the broth.

Indoor seats are available, but the space is very small and many customers have to sit outside. One serving costs VND27,000 to VND45,000.

Can’t duck this one

For duck pha lau, an unnamed eatery on District 8’s Bui Minh Truc Street is the place to get to. Around for 40 years. It opens from 3 p.m. every day and is always packed.

The recipe for the duck pha lau has been passed through generations and the flavor here can’t be found anywhere else. The price range is around VND50,000 per serving, given that its focus is not just the offal, but also other parts – head, wing, neck and legs.

All the meat is marinated with a variety of pha lau spices to give it a golden brown color and great aroma.

Duck pha lau at 105 Bui Minh Truc Street. Photo courtesy of Sai Gon dau yeu.

Duck pha lau at 105 Bui Minh Truc Street. Photo courtesy of Sai Gon dau yeu.

Every day, the shop at 105 Bui Minh Truc Street, District 8 sells more than 100 kg of duck meat. Many diners tend to praise the delicious lemongrass ginger fish sauce, in particular. Another bestseller at this eatery is duck blood, which is served to early customers.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/travel/food/where-you-can-t-beef-about-making-a-meal-of-offal-4201647.html

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Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town

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In early winter, thousands of Japanese cherry blossom trees, nearly 10 years old, shed their leaves. 

The thousands of red flowers blooming in the middle of the Sa Pa forest have become a tourist attraction, especially with young people who immerse themselves in the sea of beautiful red flowers, mixed with the white clouds and O Long tea hills.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town.

Sa Pa is located at an altitude of 1,600m above sea level, with a cool and pleasant year-round climate, suitable for growing cherry blossoms. The flower is grown in many places in Sa Pa town, such as Ham Rong tourist area and others including Hoang Lien National Park, and in the centre of town.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town

Cherry blossoms are characterized by two colours: pink and white, but each has a different density. With the pistil in the centre, petals are arranged in layers around them. As each flower season comes, the green leaves fall off to make room for the flowers to bloom. Flowers bloom in clusters, each cluster helping to form a beautiful pink canopy across the majestic Sa Pa mountain landscape. Cherry blossoms in Sa Pa have three main colours: pink, red, pink and white. Cherry blossoms in Sa Pa bloom simultaneously bloom from the beginning of November and spring, around March-February.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town

In Sa Pa, the cherry blossoms planted on the road along the central tourist lake in front of the office of the People’s Committee of Sa Pa town are those donated by the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association and the European flower garden belongs to the Ham Rong mountain eco-tourism area.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town

But the most beautiful is surely in O Long Tea Hill, in O Quy Ho ward, about 10km from Sa Pa town, next to Highway 4D to Lai Chau. This is the most popular destination in Sa Pa today. The popularity of the tea hills is spreading throughout the mountains and forests as in the middle of the naturally green visage of the tea hill are rows of cherry blossom trees in both their youth and blooming cycles.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town

Under the golden rays of sunlight, the buds of the young cherry leaves display their bright orange-yellow and purple-pink flowers and illuminate a peaceful sky. On beautiful days, clouds floating on the tea hill add to the romantic vision.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town
Gorgeous cherry blossoms in Sa Pa Town

Quoc Hong (Nhan Dan)

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/travel/gorgeous-cherry-blossoms-in-sa-pa-town-694920.html

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A slice of biodiverse paradise

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Rangers at Bai Tu Long National Conservation Park dedicated to preserving its natural beauty and flora and fauna.

A slice of biodiverse paradise
OUT OF REACH: Cai Lim Island in Bai Tu Long Bay has no mobile phone signal at all. VNS Photos Doan Tung

Now that the summer holiday season has officially ended, the beaches of Quan Lan Island are starting to return to their usual tranquil state, but there is so much garbage still onshore.

Of Vietnam’s many beautiful beaches, pristine and secluded stretches on tiny islands in Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay off the coast of the northern province of Quang Ninh would fight it out with Minh Chau on Quan Lan Island in Bai Tu Long for bragging rights.

The turquoise waters and soft white sand of untouched beaches on Quan Lan Island are perhaps only rivalled by Sao Beach on Phu Quoc Island in the country’s south.

But they have been blighted by tonnes of garbage, including bottles, cardboard, flip-flops, and plastic toys, that have washed ashore. 

Turtle Beach

A slice of biodiverse paradise
LAND MEETS SEA: The white sand and crystal clear waters of Minh Chau Beach on Quan Lan Island.

In the summer, local holidaymakers tend to visit the larger beach, Minh Chau, but only 2km away is another beach where sea turtles used to come to lay their eggs.

“They stopped coming about ten years ago,” lamented Pham Quoc Viet, deputy head of the Scientific Research and International Cooperation Department at the Bai Tu Long National Conservation Park.

Inaccessible by motorbike and separated from the main road by casuarina trees planted five years ago, local park rangers have been trying to return the beach to its former health so that the turtles may return.

“We have put up signs forbidding people from bathing at Turtle Beach,” Nguyen Dinh Ung, deputy head of the forest rangers at the park, said.

The beach actually has rough waves and can be quite dangerous, with an under-current taking unsuspecting swimmers out to sea.

“Even if you can swim, without a lifebuoy you’re likely to be swept out,” Ung said.

A slice of biodiverse paradise

Two years ago, an art project using garbage was introduced at Minh Chau Beach by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — the London-based international union of governments and civil society groups that has 1,400 members and more than 17,000 experts worldwide.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is the theme of the art camp, which brings together artists who create works using the garbage collected from the beach.

But there were no art works the day we were there, only garbage. “It keeps washing ashore,” local people told us.

A slice of biodiverse paradise
EYE-SORE: A large amount of garbage washed ashore on beautiful Minh Chau Beach on Quan Lan Island after the summer holiday season was over. VNS Photo My Ha

We’d always thought that when the holiday season ends and the beach becomes clean that it stays that way until the following summer arrives.

Quan Lan Island, located in the heart of the Bái Tử Long National Conservation Park, is a tourist destination that welcomes some 50,000 visitors each year. Its beaches are largely undeveloped, with the only accommodation being small homestays.

But the amount of garbage on the island is certainly not small, though no public figures have ever been released. The island is still waiting for waste collection and treatment facilities.

Genetic pool

A slice of biodiverse paradise
GREEN SCENES: Rangers patrolling the ironwood forest from which Cai Lim Island gets its name.

Founded in 2001, the Bai Tu Long National Conservation Park will celebrate its 20th birthday next year. Its emblem includes an image of a dolphin. The mammals inhabit the bay, though very few people have caught sight of them.

“Seeing them is down to sheer luck,” Viet said. “I’ve worked here for ten years and never seen them. But the deputy head of the park, on his first trip out to Ba Mun Island many years ago to visit rangers, was greeted by a school of dolphins.”

From the wharf in Van Don, a motorised boat ride of 45 minutes took us to a big earthen island.

“Ba Mun Island is the beating heart of biological diversity in Bai Tu Long Park, as is home to signature flora and fauna,” Viet said.

“The most significant wild animals in the island’s forest are a community of wild deer,” he went on, but added that no camera-trap images exist and little is known about the creatures. The only image is a video of a deer swimming from Ba Mun to another island.

“I think the good management of wild animals has actually put us in more danger when we go out on patrols,” said Nguyen Hai Phong, a young forest ranger on Ba Mun.

He once came across a giant cobra trying to shed its skin. A few years earlier, a two-man patrol was attacked by a wild boar. The younger ranger jumped up into a tree and narrowly escaped, but the older ranger was bitten on the arm, which severed an artery, and he was rushed to hospital in Hanoi for treatment.

A slice of biodiverse paradise
OCEANFRONT VIEWS: The rangers’ house on Cai Lim Island, which looks out over a beautiful mixture of blue, green and turquoise water.

Wild forests elsewhere in Bai Tu Long have also been revived.

While on Cai Lim Island with Viet, he told us it is home to a strong bed of green ironwood trees. Named after the trees that dominate the island, Cai Lim is only accessible by boat and a phone signal is rare. You’re pretty much cut off from the outside world.

“The park has significant marine biodiversity,” said Viet, who graduated from the country’s leading Nha Trang Maritime University in marine research. He is also one of seven certified divers at the park, and conducts regular inspections both on land and underwater.

“Last year, we found a new type of branch coral reef when diving around Mang Khoi Island,” he told us. “Scientists say this type of coral is one of the fastest-growing in the world, by 15cm a year.”

After the discovery was reported to the park authority, a strict protection zone was initiated to protect the coral.

The Bai Tu Long National Conservation Park boasts six ecosystems, including an evergreen forest on an earthen island, an evergreen forest on a limestone karst, mangrove forests, coral reefs, the Tung-Ang ecosystem, and a marine vegetation ecosystem.

Tung-Ang are collapsed sinkholes in underwater mountains. “The flora and fauna have been fully protected from human interference since they were found,” Viet said.

The park has two types of sinkholes, or dolines: one with a gate to the outer sea, and another with underwater currents and caves.

“Cai De Doline is the largest in the park, at 26ha,” he told us. “There’s a whole mangrove forest in the area.”

“This is the best conservation park we have for preserving all creatures and keeping humans away.”

Scientific research has revealed that the 391 species of marine structures here provide a large genetic pool for further studies. Seventeen coral species, noted as under threat of extinction in the Vietnam Red Book of Endangered Species, have also been found in the area.

Conservation work

A slice of biodiverse paradise
LIFE UNDERWATER: At a museum on the park in Van Don District are exhibits of living creatures from the seas.

While Turtle Beach on Quan Lan Island is in desperate need of a regular clean-up if it is to once again be the natural habitat of turtles laying their eggs, the island’s forests have been quite well preserved, so much so that rangers need to be alert while on patrol.

“We hope to get one more patrol boat to add to our fleet,” said Ung, who spent 42 years as a ranger. On a recent late-night inspection on Ba Mun Island, he broke his left leg in an incident.

“A new regulation that came into being last year states that rangers must try and stop any violations of marine areas or forests and hand over suspects to local authorities or border guards. We are unable to issue our own administrative punishment to violators.”

To complete administrative and archiving work in the rangers’ office, which is an important task, more computers are required, according to Ung.

Viet, meanwhile, said the department needed a lot more equipment to monitor the flora and fauna they are charged with protecting.

“We don’t have a flycam to shoot images from above,” he said. “And our camera traps all broke a long time ago.”

He can shoot underwater footage while on diving patrols, but the quality is limited.

Next year, when the park celebrates its 20th anniversary, Ung plans to retire after a long career as a ranger. The young diver-scientist, Viet, hopes to continue preserving natural resources and keeping the environment safe.

“I also hope we can introduce eco-tourism, to earn some revenue for reinvesting in costly preservation work,” he said.

As for young forest ranger Phong, he hopes to celebrate his wedding by the dock on Cai Mun Island.

He also plans to bring his future in-laws to where he works, so they will understand why he is away from home for so long protecting the wildlife for his children’s children to admire. VNS

by Nguyen My Ha   

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/travel/a-slice-of-biodiverse-paradise-693876.html

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