Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Bat Trang - Traditional ceramic and pottery village

Bat Trang, traditional porcelain and pottery village with history of seven centuries, is an interesting attraction in Hanoi that tourists should not ignore.

Bat Trang, a small village in the north of Vietnam, is about 13 kilometers south east of Hanoi center, on the other side of Chuong Duong bridge. Why is its name popular to most tourists to northern Vietnam? 

The answer is its ever famous ceramic and pottery products of high quality. If you have known about Vietnam, you may not be surprised that Bat Trang’s vases, bowls, dishes, and many other kinds of ceramic products have been exported worldwide. 

Should you would like to contemplate workers making ceramic products by hand, just come here! What’s more, you can also try it yourself!

Foreigners buy souvenir in Bat Trang village

History of Bat Trang  village
 Bat Trang village is said to be established in 14th or 15th century in several documents. However, according to the villagers, the village perhaps appeared earlier. There are always two stories concerning the village origin. 

One of these tells that under Ly dynasty, in 1100, when the nation was in its independence and initial growth period, there were 3 scholars who came back from their mission trip to China bringing the ceramic craft industry learned there back to Vietnam and taught the people of Bat Trang. 

In the other story, in the village history dates back to the 10th century, when King Ly Cong Uan relocated the capital in Thang Long. With the establishment and development of the capital, many businessmen, crafters from many areas come to settle down here to work and trade. 

In Bat Trang, there was a lot of white clay, so that many potters, among whom was Nguyen Ninh Trang family, came and built the kilns here. Accordingly, Bat Trang has gradually changed from a normal ceramic and pottery village into a famous ceramic and pottery centre until now.

As time went by, the village’s products have developed and become well known for the best quality, style and glaze, both inside and outside of the nation. Many of these are now customized for aristocratic families and religious needs. Its popular foreign markets are Japan (under the brand "Kochi (Giao Chi) ware"), the Netherlands, Britain, Portugal, Southeast Asia, etc.,

The famous ceramic & pottery products

Production Process : To produce a complete product, one must follow 3 steps. The first step is making the product frame. The artists select the suitable clay, treat it and start making a raw product. It must be repaired to get the best appearance. Secondly, they decorate and cover it with glazes. 

Last but not least, the raw products are baked in 3 days and 3 nights. There are several kinds of kiln, yet the temperature must be at 12000 or 13000. After baking, products are brought out, classified and repaired in case there are mistakes. And now we have the perfect product.

Decorating cearmic products

Popular product types. Bat Trang products are divided into 3 kinds based on the purpose of use.
  • Utilitarian wares: including plates, bowls, teacups, kettles, wine bottles, flowerpots, vases, jar… What differs is that they are thicker than Chinese ones.
  • Cult wares: comprise lamp stands, candle holders, incense burner, altar boxes, swords… These are valuable for collectors because of inscription of the production years, the names of the producers and the potters.
  • Decorative objects: house models, altars, statues and architectural fixtures.

The special trait is the diversified decorations on the products. Thanks to a long–lasting history and development, the village’s works have been accumulated with a lot of different special designs. 

One more thing that makes them distinguished is the glaze, which is of high quality and a variety of colors, such as blue, brown, white, moss green, in both breaking and melting glazes.

In fact, there have appeared a number of competitors both domestically and internationally who take advantages of high technology. Yet most customers prefer the craft products that contain historical and traditional values. Hence, it is no surprise at all that Bat Trang is still found in busy days and works. More importantly, the village is now so popular that absorbs a huge annual number of tourists to visit and buy ceramic goods.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Finding a new Bat species in the Vietnam national park

A group of scientists have discovered a new species of bat in the Cat Ba and Chu Mom Ray national parks of Vietnam.

A distinctive echolocation frequency led to the finding of a new species of bat within the genus Hipposideros. This bat is similar to the species Hipposideros armiger, differences in acoustics, size, and DNA between these bats led to the identification of the new species. This new member has been given the scientific name Hipposideros griffini.

The H. griffini bat has a smaller overall body size than its close cousin, H. armiger, and variations in the skull and teeth. Differences also appeared in the mitochondrial DNA collected from these bats. 

The echolocation frequencies of the new species range from 76.6 to 79.2 kHz, which is higher than frequencies of several H. armiger subspecies, which range from 64.7 to 71.4 kHz. Additional evidence shows that these two species are occupying the same geographical region yet have retained their separate identities.

Dr. Vu Dinh Thong, a member of the research group, who comes from the Institute of Ecology and Bioresources of Vietnam, said that the new species of bat is named after the late professor Donald Redfield Griffin, of Rockefeller University in New York. Griffin was a leader in and essential contributor to bat echolocation research, which was key to identifying H. griffini as a new species. The proposed common name for this bat is “Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat.”

The new species was found at Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam and in Chu Mom Ray National Park, situated on the mainland more than 600 miles (1,000 km) to the south. H. griffini joins about 70 other species within the genus Hipposideros.

This discovery was the result of cooperation among experts of Vietnam’s Institute of Ecology and Bio-resources, Germany’s Tuebingen University, Britain’s Harrison Institute, the Dublin University of Ireland and the Hungarian Natural History Museum.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Binh Ba's pristine and tranquil island

The pristine beach with smooth white sand and blue water stretching away to the horizon without human’s foot, a variety of colorful coral reefs together with the peaceful life of rustic locals are the specific features that makes a strong impression on tourists about pretty Island named Binh Ba. 

Just needing to spend about 2 hours on the boat from Ba Ngoi port, tourists will put their feet in this nice island. Binh Ba Island lies across Cam Ranh Bay as a screen to prevent the waves from East Sea pouring in. 

It is said that this island is not so noisy, busy and urbanized as surrounding areas such as Nha Trang and Mui Ne. Perhaps, if someone has opportunity to put his feet on this is land, it is strongly believed that he will never forget quiet space along with pure wild of the nature here. And this amazing attraction comes from the natural beauty of Bai Nom and Bai Chuong.

The island's most beautiful beach is Bai Nom. It is a bow-shape sandy beach, and two sides are solid rocks. The sand is so white. In this season, the waves are very intense. Just stood about five meters from the shore, tourists will be very hard to keep their foot away from the big waves.

 At the weekend, hundreds of guests go to the island and stopover at Bai Nom playing with the waves. Leaving Bai Nom, walking on the roads rising full of green trees and wildflowers, tourists will wallow in the quiet and pristine beach of Bai Chuong. 

Maybe, the attraction of Bai Chuong is really not because of the smooth white sand like Bai Nom, but comes from the beauty of splendid colorful coral reefs, iridescent shells, and undulating stones with diversified shapes on the sea and especially steep cliffs together with mysterious caves. 

 In addition, nothing is better than contemplate the beauty of sunrise, sunset and the moon in Binh Ba Island. Thus, it is not surprising when many tourists want to come back even once. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Stunning Con Dao in visitors’ eyes in Vietnam

During the French colonial era, Con Dao known as Poulo Condore was served as a prison island for political prisoners now called “tiger cages”. Today, Con Dao is also an island of immense natural beauty with forest-covered hills, deserted sandy beaches and extensive coral reefs. To witness the remaining of the evilness of human, the number of foreign tourists coming there is increasing day by day.

COn Dao prison

Con Dao is not only the biggest archipelago in Ba Ria- Vung Tau province, but it is also the most famous one in Vietnam tourism. This archipelago contains 16 islands with the total size of 76 square kilometers, and Con Lon island is the largest among them. 

Con Dao is notable for its paradoxes, namely one of very few “Hell on Earth”- an evidence of a woeful but noble period of Vietnamese history on Con Dao islands, but nowadays Con Dao islands have become a paradise for both domestic and international visitors joining tours in Vietnam. This abnormal combination explains for astonishing looks at the island: the beauty of nature and the evilness of human.

The noted place in Con Dao is Con Dao prison – the place to jail prisoners in Vietnam War. Compared to Phu Quoc prison, Con Dao prison was still left behind in terms of torturing method variety, but it is well-known for a much longer history. Established in 1862 by French Colonists, Con Dao since then is known as a “Hell on Earth”; anyone arrested there would surely suffer the death painfully.

From 1862 to 1975, Con Dao captured and detained thousands of prisoners, mostly patriots. Con Dao prison conjures up a dark memory that makes everyone trembling when reminding of the past. In Con Dao, the French Colonists and American Army have built a system of torturing, beating and killing prisoners very slowly and painfully. They established some special departments to easily torture prisoners.

tiger cages
Female revolutionaries were sent to the Tiger Cages without water to bathe and lime and waste were poured onto them.

Female revolutionaries

The most famous one is separated “tiger cages”, which once shocked American public in 1970s, with unbelievable methods applied to prisoners. These tiger cages are small basements built by stone with steel window on the top, with the aisles between basements for jailers and soldiers to guard and insult prisoners with dirty water and lime. 

Jailers even invented “sunbathe room”, known as the tiger cages with no roof to force people inside to suffer from the sun heat for days. Another noted invention is separated cow sheds, which had been used to keep cow inside, but jailers transformed them into rooms for prisoners. They kept prisoners among animals with very poor conditions.

Con Dao prison
After being tortured, prisoners had to stay out in the sun and rain.

More terribly, they sent some “dangerous” prisoners to the basements under the sheds and let them rot away due to the waste from the animals. Prisoners here were chained with cuffs all the time, and the foods was just enough for them to survive. 

The jailers beat prisoners whenever they wanted, and tortured them by different methods that could not be seen anywhere else, including taking teeth, nailing into body, burning, etc. Con Dao nowadays has become a dreadful museum for people to visit, but it still attracts many tourists to witness the remaining of the evilness of human. It could be a useful and interesting history lesson for all adventurous tourists.

After 36 years of liberation, Con Dao archipelago is extremely stunning in tourists' eyes with green grass field, beautiful rivers, high mountains, lovely climate and fresh air; it is a poetic picture of natural beauty. Opposite with the trembling fears from Con Dao prison, the wildlife of Con Dao brings peace and comfort to tourists in Vietnam travel.

Con Dao beach
Con Dao has now become a paradise for visitors in Vietnam tourism.
Con Dao beach
Con Dao island is now gentle with smooth sandy beaches, which brings comfort to tourists.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Kite-flying in Ba Giang - Hanoi

Every year when comes the 15th of lunar March, Bá Giang villagers, Hồng Hà commune, Đan Phượng district, Hanoi province get merry and happy participating in the kite-flying contest, that entices visitors far-and-wide.

It’s closely related to a legendary story that Nguyễn Cả, a famous man in the village and a general of emperor Đinh Tiên Hoàng who refused high rank for his merits to return to home village and instructed his home-villagers in cultivation. In his life’s last days, he lived in modesty and taught young people games and sports, of these kite-flying is still exciting.

It’s told that one day when he and the village children started flying kites, a fairy man appeared, he bowed and then there came a white cloud that flied the stone, then a five-colour cloud came and there was poem-reciting. Suddenly, there were lightning and thunder and wind and rain, Mr. Nguyễn Cả also disappeared after that event. 

Villagers set up a temple dedicated to him and today Bá Giang temple is nationally classified as historic-cultural relics. The temple overlooks the rice-field and the dikes of redriver. It’s also venue for every year kite-flying contest.

The contest takes place in March but right from previous August, participation was ready. People chose bamboo, bought paper, made flutes, ropes… The rope to fly kites is made of good-quality bamboo, washed in banana water, then in boiling-water to make it tough and soft. The flutes are made of specific bamboo that give good sounds and the kites are covered with rice paper.

The contest is started by a procession of round cakes or bánh dày to commemorate the super-men. A man picked out to make the biggest sample kite (5m long and 1,5m wide) covered by pink papers and a poem was written on. Contestant bring their kites to the temple and there are about 50 or so participants from Bá Giang, Hạ Mỗ, Tân Hội, Liên Trung villages. The kites might be 3m long or at least 1m long.

In the cool afternoon of Southern wind, all kites high fly, people sitting in dykes or on ground of communal house watch the flying kites and listen to the merry sounds of flutes. Now and then, a rope breaks and watchers start flying their smaller kites, that make the scene more dynamic and merry.

Alter about hours, more ropes break and they lose, only few could fly high and in the final, there are just ten flying kites. The organizers meet in Châu Trần temple and the kite-fliers tie their ropes in front of the temple. Prizes (first, second and third) are rewarded to kites that fly high and get balanced. Prizes are presented to village gods and kites still fly until mid-night. The village seem more tranquil and poetic with flute-sounds.

If you are interested in exploring Vietnam travel you can visit Vietnam travel guide, Vietnam travel company, Halong cruise, Halong Bay, Halong tours site to know further attractive places. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Mu Cang Chai's Autumn

Yen Bai Province’s Mu Cang Chai District in autumn becomes a major attraction as people come to experience the amazing landscapes created by brilliant gold-green rice terraced fields with their ripe rice harvests.

Mu Cang Chai has 13 communes and one town, crowned by ranges of terraced fields.
It would take days to trek through these villages in order to explore this ingeniously crafted landscape, lovingly moulded by local Mong people.
Photos taken from Mu Cang Chai in autumn:
Terraced golden rice fields
Highland town bathed in a ‘golden autumn’
A harmonious picture
Spotted yellow from a far distance
A closer look offers more brilliant yellow
Mong people preparing for the harvest
Good crops
A hut on the terraced fields
A tortuous stream adds to the beauty
Children greeting visitors
Mong people create a natural ‘masterpiece’

If you are interested in exploring Vietnam travel, you can visit Vietnam travel company, Halong cruise, Halong Bay, Halong tours site to know further attractive places. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

T’Nung Lake – Climbing to the mountain to contemplate “sea”

T’Nung lake is the precious pearl of the mountainous city of Pleiku that make anyone having ever put his foot on Central Highlands even once unforgettable

 A flat-asphalted road leads up the whole way through narrow passages of steep rocks, which raise the bush of brightly yellow honeysuckle to T’Nung Lake. This lake is the crater of a volcano that became extinct millions of years ago. And it has the oval shape and especially is divided into 2 parts by a piece of land stretching away to the center of lake; therefore, it is considered as peninsula. 

The lake’s area is about 280 hectares and an average depth of about from 16 to 19 meters, reaching 40 meters at its deepest. Perhaps, due to being situated on the top of an old extinguished volcano that isn’t hidden by the surrounding range of other mountains and immense pine forests, standing on the banks of lake makes tourists have the strong feelings of being at the sea-side and fully immersed in the cool sea wind. T’Nung Lake that makes its water increases dramatically in the rain season. Thus, the name of T’Nung was born with the meaning of “sea on the mountain”. Or people still usually call it with the second name of “Sea Lake”.

Perhaps the name of “ Sea lake” itself expresses the desire of locals here. Because Pleiku Plateau is located nearly 1000 meters above the sea level, there isn’t any droplet to exist in this mountain according to the principle. And this is real reason why people here have a strong desire for water and sea. Therefore, the existence of T’Nung Lake in the high mountain makes it have the second name of Sea Lake.

Anyone having ever come here even once agrees that T’Nung Lake has a strong attraction thank to not only the charming beauty of a vast expanse of water together with the blue sky and white cloud but also the rendezvous place of flowers, birds and fish, from the most humble to the most precious species. In spring, they all bloom and bring vivacious colors and life to the greenness of the environment and the softness of the blue sky. Wandering the narrow tracks around T’Nung Lake, visitors will encounter many species of birds, from the most ordinary to the most exotic. At sunset, the lake becomes even more alive with the familiar noises made by flocks of birds in their rush back to their nests.

T’Nung Lake is also called the fish basket of the Central Highlands. The lake is home to various kinds of carp, from red-eyed carps to black carps. Through the limpid water of the lake they can be seen gliding swiftly and gracefully along among the algae.

Visitors can discover T’Nung Lake by boat, but they can also choose to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of T’Nung from the back of an elephant. In the evening, they can share a dance, a song, or some can wine with some of the local ethnic people, while listening to their traditional gong music.

If you are interested in exploring Vietnam tourism, you can visit Vietnam travel agency, Halong cruises, Halong Bay, Halong travel site to know further information.