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Archive for March 8th, 2010|Daily archive page

The tunnel of love

In Vietnam Landscapes on March 8, 2010 at 2:40 am

The tunnel of love

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:38 (GMT+7)

A mysterious network of caves by Chua Tien in Hoa Binh province have proved to be a popular spot for tourism

According to legend it was Lac Long Quan who fathered Vietnam. He was said to be descended from the dragons and possessed superhuman strength. One day, he made a trip out onto the water and there he met Au Co, a fairy princess. The couple married and Au Co gave birth to a sac with 100 yolks which turned into 100 infants.

The children were born at Chua Tien (Fairy’s Pagoda) in Hoa Binh province’s Lac Thuy district, an area also linked to Bac Son culture which dates some 10,000 years. Archeology digs have unearthed human bones and assorted stone tools.

The pagoda is in a limestone valley, home to beautiful caves and grottos, the most remarkable of which is Tien gottto (Fairy’s Grotto). However, most tourists head for Tam Toa grotto, the largest cave in the tourism complex.

You have to climb steps 300 metres up into the cave and crawl under the climbing liana. From just inside, the cave seems small and narrow. However, the further you venture in the more the cave opens up. As the full splendour of the cave is revealed, our travelling party is bowled over by this mysterious wonder of nature.

The artificial lights add to the magical mystery of the cave. On the walls and ceiling we can see giant bas-reliefs of strange figures that we have never imagined. The stalagmites have been transformed into an intricate, ornate body of work – I can see a kneeing elephant and a galloping horse. Looking to the ceiling, we are amazed by the living figures of the Heavenly court such as the Emperor of Jade and the God of Thunder, surrounded by fairies in gorgeous clothes. Each wall of the grotto is a wonder.

Each compartment of the grotto is a sculptural masterpiece. We wonder whether it is a work of the Creator or a being from another planet!

An old legend

The Tien grotto also has its own story. Legend has it that in days of yore, a young man named Din lived in such poverty that he could not find a wife, though he worked hard around the clock. Knowing Din’s plight, the Emperor of Jade sent his third daughter named Ba down to the earth to marry Din. For three years the couple lived in happiness but they could not conceive a child. As a deity Ba was not destined to stay forever. After three years she had to return to Heaven, leaving her husband as sad and as sorrowful as ever.

The Emperor of Jade felt sorry for Din and allowed Ba to return. But when she descended from Heaven she found that her husband had already left his home and died of sorrow on the mountain. Ba remained on earth, spending her days in a grotto and weaving cloth. This is now the Fairy’s Grotto.

It was said that any couple wanting to have children should visit the grotto and place a piece of cloth before Ba’s chamber. In the next morning, they would receive a perfect suit or dress. If it was a suit they’d have a son, if it was a dress they’d have a girl.

Growing tourism

In honour of the couple, the Tien pagoda festival is held from the fifth day of the first lunar month to the last day of the fourth lunar month. Each year, the complex is visited by some 200,000 people, mostly from the locality.

Over the past few years, tourism activities have begun to take shape here and the complex is managed by a private-owned company which was granted permission by the former Ministry of Culture and Information (now the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism).

Not that everyone is happy about growing tourism in the area. “I think that the site is being commercialised and losing its sacredness,” says Ho Minh Van, a 55-year old from Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district.

“It’s good for local socio-economic development but altars dedicated to Budda and saints are improperly erected every where. Many shrines are nothing but boxes temporarily made of steel pillars and plastic sheets.”

“When I ask those working at the grottos, they say that they don’t know what the statues are but keep asking me to put some money into hom cong duc (donation boxes) placed in front of the altars, though I have already put my money into at least 15-20 boxes placed every where at the site!”

With growing numbers of visitors, the site is also under threat from pollution. “Rubbish can be seen all over the place and you can’t find a toilet anywhere,” moans Pham Thi Bich, a 60-year old visitor from Haiphong city. 

Source: VietNamNet/Timeout

Source: QDND

EuroCham calls for more tourist visa exemptions

In Vietnam Travel on March 8, 2010 at 2:40 am

EuroCham calls for more tourist visa exemptions

QĐND – Friday, March 05, 2010, 21:10 (GMT+7)

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) has urged Vietnam to grant visa exemption to more markets as a way of attracting more foreign visitors in 2010 to take full advantage of global travel recovery.

In the “EuroCham Trade Issues and Recommendations 2010” book , the organisation said visa waiver expansion can contribute much to Vietnam’s tourism industry. EuroCham names more EU members, the US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan (China) as among the markets that can potentially account for a significant tourism revenue share for Vietnam.

Vietnam has allowed passport holders from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Russia to enter the country for a period of 15 days without a visa.

According to figures from the tourism authority, Vietnam welcomed 404,000 visitors from the US, more than 271,000 from Taiwan (China) and more than 218,000 from Australia in 2009.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Vietnam visa

Vietnam to join world junior taekwondo championships

In Vietnam Sports on March 8, 2010 at 2:40 am

Vietnam to join world junior taekwondo championships

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:38 (GMT+7)

Six Vietnamese teakwondo athletes will take part in the 8th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships which will be held in Tiajuana, Mexico from March 6-9.

The tournament draws the participation of more than 750 athletes from 85 countries and territories. Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are the representatives from Southeast Asian region.

At the tournament, Vietnam features six athletes including Mai Tan Phat (men’s 48 kg category), Nguyen Quoc Cuong (men’s 55kg), To Minh Nhat (men’s 63 kg), Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang (women’s 44 kg), Doan Thi Huong Giang (women’s 49kg) and Nguyen Thanh Thao (women’s 55 kg). 

Before the World Junior Championships, the Vietnamese athletes will participate in the WTF Qualification Tournament for 2010 Youth Olympic Games, also held in Mexico from March 3-4.

Source: VietNamNet/Nhan Dan

Source: QDND

Raging. Roosters

In Vietnam Culture on March 8, 2010 at 2:39 am

Raging. Roosters

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:38 (GMT+7)

Betting on cock fights is a hugely popular pastime for many Vietnamese men who are fond of a flutter.

Just after Tet a small cluster of men gathers on a newly built road by West Lake. Passers-by slow down wondering if there might have been an accident. But the men are huddled around a pair of cockerels. Bets have been wagered and the men shout with eager joy as the two fighting roosters close in on each other. When one of the birds springs into the air and attacks the other’s head the men scream with relish.

When I ask how long the cockerels have been fighting somebody mutters “about three hours”. One of the roosters is bleeding and flustered. The owner jumps in to try and spur the wounded beast on. But it starts to run around and tries to escape the ring. Under the rules if a rooster leaves the ring twice and does not return, it forfeits the match. The owner fails to settle his rooster and the bout is declared to be over.

Traditional pastime     

Cock fighting is a something of a traditional pastime in Vietnam. The official “cock fighting season” lasts from lunar December to lunar April of the lunar month. During Tet you will find it increasingly common. There are even festivals in some villages.

As it is such a popular form of entertainment, raising cockerels is a business investment. But it takes time. A cockerel will become so acquainted with its owner that only the owner will be able to hold him.

Tran Van Quyet is a 30-year old employee of a computer trading company. But his real passion is cock fighting.

“I began raising fighting cocks when I was 10 years old. I love the violence of the games, caring for the cockerels and the feeling when my one wins,” says Quyet, who owns 10 fighting cockerels.

After his cockerel emerges from the ring triumphant, Quyet rolls up his sleeves and puts a piece of cloth into a bowl of water mixed with alcohol and ground ginger. He then carefully massages the rooster. The august cockerel cranes his long neck to enjoy this special attention.

Quyet claims that to produce a good fighting rooster, he must carefully select a young chick and separate it from the hens. He will prepare a special diet for the cockerel and use massage oil that will help it develop thick, tough skin.

“A rooster will be able to fight by the time its 10 months old,” he says. There are three main species used for fighting which are referred to as “sacred cockerels” or “combat cockerels” in Vietnamese. Black cockerels with a red comb and a long neck are said to be full of stamina and will fight to the bitter end. White cocks with ivory-coloured feet and round yellow eyes are notoriously hot-tempered and perform “lightning strikes”.

Meanwhile, cockerels that are have black, yellow, brown, red and dark blue feathers are said to be flexible but cowardly if losing a fight. Before a fight the owners will compare each rooster’s size, weight and combat achievements. If one has longer spurs, the rival is allowed to wear artificial spurs to make it a fair fight. After the owners come to an agreement, the roosters will be brought into the ring and held until the signal is given to start the fight.

There are rounds lasting from 10 to 15 minutes. Like a cagey boxer, cockerels will often feint lunges to gauge their foes’s reactions before engaging. Cockfighting has always been related to gambling but in a more innocent bygone era, the defeated owner would fork out money but the owner would probably insist on treating him to a boozy lunch. Nowadays, many owners are rather sneaky.

Luu The Hai, a 56-year old from Hanoi’s Nghia Tan district, claims that some owners will tie a small sharp blade to the cockerel’s legs. Or even more cunningly, the owner will bet against his own cockerel and try to ensure that it loses.

“Owners feed their cock with a certain kind of food a few hours before the fight and massage it in such a way that it looks perfectly healthy but is unable to fight at full strength,” Hai says.

Source: VietNamNet/Timeout

Source: QDND

First oil flow from Nam Rong-Doi Moi oilfield tapped

In Vietnam Economy on March 8, 2010 at 2:39 am

First oil flow from Nam Rong-Doi Moi oilfield tapped

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:34 (GMT+7)

The Vietsovpetro joint venture enterprise and the Vietnam-Russia-Japan company (VRJ) welcomed on March 5 the first flow of oil from the Nam Rong-Doi Moi oilfield.

Vietsovpetro and the VRJ invested more than 342 million USD in drilling and installing rigs for 10 wells along with other facilities under a cooperation agreement signed last June.

The first industrial oil flow was pumped from Nam Rong-Doi Moi on Jan. 26 this year. With its four current wells, the oilfield has an output of 700 tonnes per day.

In order to take associated gas and gas lift, Vietsovpetro on the same day started work on construction of the Rong-Doi Moi gas compressing rig with a total investment of 149.6 million USD. The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) is the investor.

The project is scheduled to be put into operation late this year.

Vietsovpetro plans to tap 6-6.2 million tonnes of crude oil and 595 million cu.m of gas next year. With an estimated average price of 495 USD per tonne, its turnover would be worth more than 3 billion USD.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Sterner tax regime on car imports

In Vietnam Economy on March 8, 2010 at 2:38 am

Sterner tax regime on car imports

QĐND – Thursday, March 04, 2010, 20:12 (GMT+7)

The General Department of Customs has issued a new reference table of imported car prices aimed at helping its officials to combat import tax evasion.

The department’s new taxable price table lists over 1,000 automobile and truck models, both new and used (under 9-seat cars, buses and lorries), and increases the reference prices for tax purposes by 2-20 percent.

The reference price of a Toyota Corolla, for purposes of calculating the import tax, has risen in the table by about 1,500 USD over 2009, while high-grade models from Bentley, BMW and Cadillac would see increases of thousands of US dollars.

The department based the new table on the suggested retail prices of foreign auto manufacturers and the fluctuation in the foreign exchange rate between the dong and the US dollar.

Customs officials would continue to apply tax rates set by the Ministry of Finance to the actual declared value of the vehicles, but the higher referent prices would increase pressure on importers to properly document any prices that significantly vary from the reference prices in the table, said Nguyen Van Can, deputy head of the department.

Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Van Hieu also said, at a press conference on March 2, that it was necessary to more closely control the importation of luxury goods to balance the country’s trade deficit.

In light of Government’s efforts to cut the trade deficit, the volume of automobiles imported into Vietnam decreased sharply in the first two months of the year, with 3,400 units imported in January and 2,500 in February, decreases of 69.6 percent and 26.5 percent from previous months. The trend was expected to continue in March, according to a General Statistics Office prediction.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Fulbright helps local universities in administrative skills

In Social life on March 8, 2010 at 2:38 am

Fulbright helps local universities in administrative skills

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:34 (GMT+7)

Educators and experts have called for reforms in the administration of local universities as a necessary step to improve the quality of education for the 2009-10 academic year.

They made the point at the opening on March 5 of a two-day workshop sponsored by the US-funded Fulbright Programme at Hong Duc University in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The workshop compared educational management in Vietnam against the rest of the world, discussed models and management mechanisms at universities governed at the provincial and municipal levels, and how to revamp their administrative procedures.

Vietnam now boasts 18 local universities, which have been recently founded under a Government decision and put under provincial or municipal administration.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Substandard universities could face closure: ministry

In Social life on March 8, 2010 at 2:38 am

Substandard universities could face closure: ministry

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:38 (GMT+7)

The Ministry of Education and Training has announced it will begin monitoring domestic colleges and universities to ensure they are adhering to their outlined pledges and maintaining quality standards.

Schools found failing to meet requirements will first be banned from recruiting new students and directed to address problems. Further violations could result in closure of the institution.

The announcement was made by head of the Higher Education Department Tran Thi Ha at a March 4 press conference held by the ministry to announce the Prime Minister’s instructions for revamping university education management for the 2010-2012 period.

According to the directive, PM Nguyen Tan Dung has tasked the ministry with 12 assignments to address weaknesses and improve Vietnam’s higher education system.

The PM ordered the ministry not only to investigate whether universities and colleges were staying true to their promises of offering quality education, but also to expedite the improvement of schools’ infrastructure, teachers, and curricula.

In addition, the ministry should implement procedures to strictly deal with schools found for three consecutive years to be in violation of their initial pledges.

Ms. Ha said that before a school is allowed to offer a course, the ministry will now assess the class first for content and quality and ensure that the school’s infrastructure can physically accommodate the courses’ outlined curriculum.

The PM also asked the ministry to strengthen decentralized administration of schools as well as encourage such institutions’ independence and self-responsibility.

The ministry will March 5 hold a national conference on university management renovation.

Source: VietNamNet/SGGP

Source: QDND

Diverse activities celebrate International Women’s Day

In Social life on March 8, 2010 at 2:37 am

Diverse activities celebrate International Women’s Day

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:38 (GMT+7)

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee, Huynh Dam,  sent a letter of congratulations on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 1970th anniversary of the Trung Sisters’ Uprising.

In the letter to the Vietnam Women’s Union, Vietnamese heroic mothers, heroic women labourers and all women throughout the country, Mr Dam emphasized that the VFF is always proud of the glorious tradition and great contributions of Vietnamese women to the struggle for national independence, construction and defence.

*** International Women’s Day and the 1970th anniversary of the Trung Sisters’ Uprising were celebrated in HCM City on March 6 by the Municipal Women’s Union.

Over the past year, emulation movements were launched with the participation of women from different social strata. The women’s chapters provided 1,400 members with a total of VND57 billion to help generate jobs, increase incomes and develop their household economy.

Through the campaign “Studying and following President Ho Chi Minh’s moral example”, the HCM City Women’s Union encouraged nearly 2,000 nuns to take part many practical social activities and commended 100 outstanding women who recorded significant achievements in emulation movements.

*** Similar events were also celebrated in Quang Binh on March 5, drawing the participation of nearly 300 provincial women.  Female workers in Quang Binh now account for 48 percent of the province’s total workforce and 60 percent of them achieve from education degrees.

At a ceremony to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, the Quang Binh Women’s Union collected VND330 million to help women in poverty stricken areas.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Hanoi issues bigger fines for solid waste violations

In policies on March 8, 2010 at 2:37 am

Hanoi issues bigger fines for solid waste violations

QĐND – Thursday, March 04, 2010, 20:13 (GMT+7)

The Hanoi People’s Committee has introduced fines of up to 15 million VND (789 USD) for people caught illegally discharging solid and domestic waste.

It is the first time the city has issued administrative punishments for activities that pollute the environment.

Under the new rules, people who illegally transport solid waste could face fines of up to 10-15 million VND (526-789 USD), those caught littering city streets with solid waste could be fined 5-10 million VND (263-526 USD), and those caught discharging domestic waste could be fined between 100,000-300,000 VND (5.2-15.7 USD).

In addition to fines, violators would also be required to rectify the effects that their waste disposal caused on the environment. Activities that obstruct waste management would also be liable to punishment in accordance with environment protection laws.

The new rules are only the first step to classify and control waste to ensure the development of an effective recycling system that minimises the amount of waste buried in landfills, said Nguyen Van Khoi from the Hanoi People’s Committee.

Nguyen Thi Thanh, a worker of the city’s Urban Environmental Hygiene Company, said that the fines are strict enough to discourage people from discharging waste in the public places.

However Thanh said she wondered whether the city’s Transport and Public Works Department would allocate enough officers to enforce the regulations.

Statistics released by the ministry show the average amount of garbage discharged daily by each household amounts to between 0.6kg in rural areas and about 1kg in urban areas in Hanoi – rates that are steadily increasing.

Each day, more than 3,500 tonnes of rubbish are discharged in Hanoi.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND