Damnoen Saduak Floating Market In Thailand

Damnoen Saduak is located in Rachaburi province, around 100km from Bangkok.

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Why do peach blossoms herald Tet

Why do peach blossoms herald Tet? Peach blossoms in Vietnamese is Hoa Đào. Tet is also called lunar new year on the same day with China new year.
"At the year's end, when we are absent, you should break flowering peach branches and place them in your homes," advised the deities.

Long ago, a hundred-year-old peach tree stood to the east of Soc Son Mountain. Its branches covered a vast area. Two deities named Tra and Uat Luy lived in this giant peach tree and used their powers to protect the locals.
Any demons or ghosts that dared approach were chased away by the deities. Evil spirits were so terrified by their lightning that they avoided the peach tree.

peach blossoms VN Tet
Peach blossoms herald Tet in Vietnam
At the year's end, like many other deities, Tra and Uat Luy had to travel to Heaven to attend the Emperor's meeting. During the New Year holidays, demons took advantage of their absence to wreak havoc on the world.
Upon hearing people's complaints, the two deities said: "At the year's end, when we are absent, you should break flowering peach branches and place them in your homes. The demons will think we are still there and cause no trouble."
People followed the deities' advice and decorated their homes with flowering peach boughs. Some placed small trees in their houses to protect their families. Those who had no peach trees drew the two deities on vermilion paper and stuck these papers on their doors to ward off evil spirits.

Why do peach blossoms herald Tet

Each year, during the Tet holidays, people buy peach branches to decorate their houses and ward off evil. Over time, they forgot the origins of this custom. However, the traditions of buying peach trees and making red parallel sentences are still followed every Lunar New Year.
Why do peach blossoms herald Tet?

The painter Vu Dinh Tuan is a lecturer of Graphic Arts at the Vietnam University of Fine Arts said: "This folk tale briefly and meaningfully explains the Vietnamese custom of buying peach trees during the Lunar Tet holidays. Ancient people wanted to find ways to ward off evil, eliminate the bad, promote the good and bring back peace and happiness every New Year. This beautiful sacred ritual should be passed on to later generations. In this illustrated folk tale, peach blossoms and red parallel sentences shine and melt into the miraculous realm of the deities.".
Why do peach blossoms herald Tet.

Fine Rice Vermicelli or Steamed Rolls Made Of Rice-flour

Fine Rice Vermicelli or Steamed Rolls Made Of Rice-flour in Vietnamese is Bánh Hỏi - Banh Hoi.
Banh Hoi is one of the most popular vermicelli in the daily lives of Binh Dinh’s residents. The people in Binh Dinh use it every day, and will have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, no one knows how and when it originated, or why people call it Banh Hoi. Some elders say that when it was invented, people asked what type of cake it was so many times it became known as Hoi, which means ‘to ask’ in Vietnamese. Banh Hoi are made in many places in Binh Dinh, but the tastiest is well-known to be at Dieu Tri in Tuy Phuoc.

Banh Hoi Fine Rice Vermicelli or Steamed Rolls Made Of Rice-flour

Generally, making Fine Rice Vermicelli is similar to the process used for noodles, but must be done more carefully. Rice is moistened in water to soften it, then husked and made into a fine powder. The powder is then steamed, then stuffed to become blocks. The vermicelli can be eaten right after it is made, but it has yet to be given any flavor. It is often eaten with oil and fried chives to be more fragrant. Moreover, it is used with fish sauce mixed with pepper, sugar, lemonade and garlic.

Fine Rice Vermicelli - Banh Hoi is usually serving with roast pork.

Fine rice vermicelli or Steamed Rolls Made Of Rice-flour.

Steamed Rice Pancakes with Grilled Pork Stuffing

Hanoi is famous for its cuisine and it is the place where there are many delicious dishes from different regions in the country. One of them is steamed rice pancakes with grilled pork stuffing.

Steamed Rice Pancakes with Grilled Pork Stuffing
To make the dish, it is necessary to select high quality rice which is then cleaned and soaked in water for several hours before being ground into batter. A thin layer of batter is poured on a cloth that is tautly stretched and placed on top of the pot which can quickly cook the rice batter.
To prepare the stuffing, slice lean pork into thin pieces and mix it with fish sausage, pepper, chopped onion and garlic, sugar and white sesame. Grill the meat until it becomes brown. Put the rice crepe on a plate and roll it with grilled pork.
The dish is served with basil, papaya pickles and sweet-sour sauce mixed with red pepper and garlic.

Steamed Rice Pancakes

Steamed Rice Pancakes with Grilled Pork Stuffing 2

Steamed Rice Pancakes with Grilled Pork Stuffing 3

Steamed Rice Pancakes with Grilled Pork Stuffing Hanoi

Steamed Rice Pancakes with Grilled Pork Stuffing.

Bronze Gongs and Cymbals in Vietnam's Central Highland

Bronze Gongs and Cymbals play a key role in the cultures of Vietnam's Central Highland.

Since ancient times, ethnic minority groups in Vietnam's Central Highlands have used cymbals and gongs as trade items, yardsticks of prosperity, a means to express connections between families and clans, and above all, to communicate with deities and convey wishes for peace and affluence. Reliant on nature, these societies place strong faith in supernatural forces, rituals and the farming cycle.

Bronze Gongs and Cymbals in Vietnam's Central Highland
Bronze Gongs and Cymbals are closely linked with the ceremonial rites, music and dance.
Virtually all ethnic groups in the Central Highlands use bronze gongs. The gongs are usually grouped into named sets. Different sets are used for different tasks and events. Each ethnicity has its own versions: double cymbal sets (also called Tha cymbals) of the Brau people; sets of three-buttoned gongs of the Churu, Bahna, Jarai and Gie Trieng ethnicities; sets of six flat cymbals of the Ma people; Stang sets of the Xo Dang; cymbal sets of Gar, Noong, Prong and Mnong families; Diek cymbal sets of Kpa families; sets of six-buttoned Bih gongs of Ede families; a set of 11 or 12 cymbals including three buttoned gongs and eight to nine flat cymbals of Giarai (Arai) family), Bahna (To Lo, Kon K'Deh families) and Sedang (Steng family), etc.
Depending on the nature of rituals, different sets of gongs are used. For instance, Giarai people use tonah/kodo cymbals for cheerful events. Each set comprises eight to nine cymbals and a large drum. Arap sets are used at funerals, and include 13 cymbals or more. Dependent on financial circumstances, a family or clan may possess personal sets of cymbals to be used for their own events.

Bronze Gongs and Cymbals in Vietnam

Each ethnic group in the Central Highlands also boasts a different way of playing gongs. The beat of the Edes' gongs is quick and intense. The Mnong's gong rhythms are also fairly quick, but more moderate. The sounds of Bahna — Jarai gongs depend on the main pitch and accompanying pitches. The low pitch of buttoned gongs is firm, while the high pitch of flat cymbals is sharp and melodious. Since gongs and cymbals are grouped in sets, their sounds comprise a blend of different pitches that demonstrate subtle tonal expressions. The gong-makers' profound knowledge of sound waves allows them to create instruments with unique sounds.
Over the centuries, cymbals and gongs have become a sacred cultural essence of the Central Highlands. Strict rules were passed down concerning artisans, gender rules, postures, performance techniques and repertoires for different religious events. The cultures of the region's ethnic minority groups pivot around bronze gongs and cymbals. This is a community-centric art-form and an expression of the philosophy and rich history of communities throughout the Central Highlands. This art-form deserves to be recognized as an "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".

Check out, this clip is on Gongs and Cymbals Rhythm in a dance at a Festival of ethnic minority groups in Vietnam's Central Highlands:

Bronze Gongs and Cymbals in Vietnam's Central Highland.

Complex of Hue Monuments Hue Imperial City

Construction of the Imperial City started in 1805, under the reign of Emperor Gia Long, and was completed in 1832, under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang. Built on the northern bank of the Perfume River, the Imperial City was influenced by the style of French architect Vauban. The city comprises three sections: the Royal Citadel, the Imperial Enclosure and the Forbidden Purple City.

Complex of Hue Monuments Hue Imperial City
Royal Citadel Enclosure: The outermost boundary of the citadel has a perimeter of 9,950 m. The citadel has ten entrances: Nha Do Gate, Sap Gate, Ngan Gate, Thuong Tu Gate, Dong Ba Gate, Ke Trai Gate, Hau Gate, An Hoa Gate, Chanh Tay Gate, and Huu Gate
Imperial Enclosure (Hoang Thanh): The Imperial Enclosure of Complex of Hue Monuments Hue Imperial City is the second rampart with a perimeter of 2,450m. It is accessible through four gates: Ngo Mon to the south, Hoa Binh (Peace Gate) to the north, Hien Nhon (Humanity) to the east, and Chuong Duc (Virtue) to the west. Ngo Mon is the main entrance gate to the city and was formerly reserved for the passage of kings. 
Forbidden Purple City (Tu Cam Thanh): The third and innermost fort of the royal complex has a perimeter of 1,225m and is accessible through seven gates. It was formerly reserved for the private use of the kings and their families, as well as the numerous concubines. The Forbidden Purple City is almost isolated from the outside world. Located inside the three high ramparts and deep moats, is a large cluster of smaller structures built along a main axis that runs from south to north. The first structure is Ky Dai (Flag Tower). It is followed by Ngo Mon Gate, Dai Trieu Nghi Yard, Thai Hoa Palace, Can Chanh Palace, Khon Thai Palace, Kien Trung Palace and Hoa Binh (Peace) Gate.

Ngo Mon (Gate): This three-story structure is 58m long, 27.5m wide, 17m high, and serves as the main entrance to the Imperial City. Ngo Mon comprises five gates, with the central gate being reserved for the kings only. The two adjacent gates were exclusively for court officials, and the two other outer gates were used for servants and members of the royal entourage. On top of the arch is the Five Phoenix Pavilion where the king sat during festivities. This was also where ceremonies were organized to announce the names of successful candidates of royal examinations. During the reign of the Nguyen Kings, Ngo Mon was only opened when the kings were passing by or receiving foreign ambassadors.
Palace of Supreme Harmony (Dien Thai Hoa): Thai Hoa Palace was built in 1805 according to 19th century architectural designs for palaces and temples. It is composed of two buildings, the anterior palace and the main palace, which are joined together. This is where the golden throne of the king is located. Thai Hoa Palace was the most important building of the capital used for important court ceremonies.

Dynastic Temple (The Mieu): This was one of the many shrines and temples dedicated to the kings and royal members of the Nguyen Dynasty. It was built in 1921 to worship King Gia Long and was later used to worship his successors as well. Up to now ten kings are worshipped in The Mieu. The Mieu is comprised two separate halls, each furnished with an ornamented bed made of ironwood and covered with golden glaze and red lacquer, an altar, funerary tablets and precious military weapons used for worshipping purposes. This was where the court organized grand funeral services headed by the late king's successor. The Temple is said to be the largest shrine of this kind ever built in Viet Nam.
Nine Dynastic Urns: The Nine Dynastic Urns were cast between 1835 and 1837, and weigh between 1,900 to 2,601kg each. The whole row of urns represents the power and stability of the Nguyen Dynasty. These urns are the greatest achievements of the 19th century bronze casting in Viet Nam. Traditional ornamentation was chiselled on the sides of the urns, each dedicated to a particular emperor. The 17 designs, based on classic motifs, include the sun, the moon, clouds, mountains, rivers, and scenes from everyday life. Many consider the nine urns to be a real encyclopedia of the landscapes, farm products, and animals of Viet Nam.
Pavilion of Splendour (Hien Lam): Hien Lam Pavilion is a memorial pavilion built to remind younger generations of the merits and contributions of members of the Nguyen Dynasty. Like the Nguyen Kings who were worshipped in The Mieu, other memorable people and mandarins were worshipped in the two halls located on either side of Hien Lam Pavilion. Hien Lam Pavilion was built within the site of The Mieu and was made of wood. The three-story building, which is 25m high, is the tallest building in the whole Imperial Enclosure.
Royal Residence (Cung That): Cung That was reserved for the private use of kings and their families. This area was an important component of the Hue Imperial City, which included several palaces: Can Chanh Palace (King's Residence), Khon Thai Palace (Queen's Residence), Dien Tho Palace (King's mother's Residence), and Truong Sinh Palace (King's paternal grandmother's Residence). Unfortunately, most of the palaces were destroyed in the wars, with the exception of the Dien Tho and Truong Sinh Palaces.
Dien Tho Palace was built in 1804. A special feature of this architectural structure is the roofed corridor that links Dien Tho Palace to the king's residence to facilitate the King's visits to his mother. It was restored as its old design.
Complex of Hue Monuments Hue Imperial City.

Non La, A Symbol of Vietnamese’ Charm and Romance

When travelling throughout Vietnam, tourists never fail to take notice of the local charming ladies donned in Áo Dài (Vietnamese traditional long dress) and Non La (conical leaf hat, Vietnamese: Nón Lá) walking gracefully along the streets. By no doubt, the Ao dai embody the femininity and charm of the Vietnamese women, while the appeal and functionality of the Nón Lá creates a beautiful harmony of the entire ensemble, leaving a strong impression of gracefulness and romance to any tourist who visits the country. In recognition of the hat’s distinct shape, Nón Lá earned its common name, “Vietnamese conical hat”.

Vietnam Girl in Non La

Origin of the Non La

Vietnam is a tropical country characterized both with rainy and dry seasons. Clearly, Nón Lá is essential for the people to protect themselves from heat which could last for months, and sometimes even reaching 40 degrees Celsius in intensity, and also during long periods of enduring rain. Though the Nón Lá has appeared even from the earlier days of the country’s history, no one can precisely trace back as to when the conical head piece exactly originated. Images of the Nón Lá, however, are evident on the Trong dong Ngoc Lu (Ngoc Lu bronze drum) and Thap Dong Dao Thinh (large bronze cylindrical jar of Dao Thinh) known to date back some 2,500 to 3,000 years ago indicating that the hat had already been utilized during the period, or even earlier. Nón Lá had in fact existed as a daily essential of the Vietnamese from thousands of years ago and even in legends and fictions handed down throughout the generations.

Making of a Non La
Years have passed since the advent of modernization and the rise of industrial machines. How a wide range of traditional items are crafted had changed significantly as they are now created with the assistance of commercialized machineries. But despite all that, Nón Lá had remained an entirely hand-made craft even up to present. Apparently, no machine is worthy of replacing the remarkable skill and mastery of the traditional techniques inherited throughout generations of craftsmen who are capable of creating the most elegant and delicate Nón Lá you will ever find.

People making Non La Vietnam

The simplest materials such as dry leaves and a conical frame are required to construct a conical hat. The leaves of palm trees are considered most ideal and a perfect conical frame is made from bamboo. Young green palm leaves, after selection, are allowed to dry under the sun. The warmer the sun gets, the easier the leaves wither. The craftsmen then uses a baked steel bar to iron the dried leaves, heated just enough to flatten the leaves but not burning them which causes its color to turn yellow. On the other hand, if the bar is not hot enough or had cooled down upon touching the leaves, it causes the dried leaves to wrinkle after the ironing process. After they are flattened, the leaves are sewn on a conical frame consisting of 16 round bamboo rims. Sixteen had been found to be the perfect number after years of studying and testing along with the practical experience of skillful artisans. That had become an unchangeable principle when constructing a perfect-fitting and delicate hat.

Looking at how a hat is constructed may seem very simple, but in reality, it is not. A well-made Nón Lá requires painstaking precision of the maker owed not only from talent itself, but also from numerous years of experience in the craft. It may be hard to believe, but every single needlework is steadily sewn in equal spaces even without measuring. The connection of sewing nylon threads is skillfully hidden beneath the minute and even stitches. There is no doubt how the step-by-step process could be very time consuming and requires so much patience from the craftsman.

Sophisticated decoration of Non La
Running stitches through the bamboo frame’s sixteen rims makes up the shape of the conical hat, but artisans often incorporate sophisticated decoration to make the hat look more appealing and elegant. The most famous pattern is called “Non Bai Tho” (Poetical hat), originating from the ancient capital of Hue, known as land of the peaceful Huong River and majestic Ngu Binh Mountain and birthplace of many famous poets whose creative works served as inspiration of the capital’s romantic setting. Romantic characters or images of Hue’s symbol are inserted between two layers of leaves, which the maker then stitches together. Unique and sophisticated decorations become readable when held against the sunlight.

Vietnam Girl in Aodai and Non La

A simpler technique to decorate Nón Lá is to stick pre-assembled flowers made from colored papers inside the hat. Traditional countryside landscapes, rice fields or bamboo hedges commonly comprise the decorations of hats widely used in other regions. Sometimes, bright colors are added by artisans by sewing colored threads at two opposite points inside the hat to hang a silk cloth chin trap which helps position the Nón Lá when worn. Today, Nón Lá made available as souvenir items for tourists are skillfully decorated on its surface with national symbols to embody a message of the country’s unique charm and the gracefulness of Vietnamese women.

Lands of Non La
Nón Lá is popular throughout the country and is commonly found in famous villages and areas across the North, South and Central of Vietnam. Hats made from each region exhibits special characteristics which translates the distinctiveness of the locals in that particular area. The Lai Chau hat, for instance, is a symbol of the Thai ethnic minority; the Tay ethnic group is famous for red Cao Bang hats; while Binh Dinh province is popular for its thick Go Cang hats; and Quang Binh earned a reputation for making the elegant, thin hats indicating the ancient capital Hue, known the Ba On hats.

Chuong village of Thanh Oai, Ha Tay province is known as the most famous land of conical hats. The village produces thousands of hats per day amounting to millions per year, all used either for personal, souvenir and export purposes. The village has a reputation for crafting the skillfully-made, well-fitting, durable and the most beautiful Nón Lá in the Northern Delta. Probably every family in Chuong village is involved in the trade. It takes decades to master the techniques which are handed down to the next generations. Amazingly, this tiny village has maintained such reputation for the past three centuries and has remarkably preserved this interesting cultural aspect of the country.

Nón Lá in Art performances
Non La Vietnam performancesNón Lá has made its way to cultural presentations in the recent years. The most notable dance was performed by Vietnamese young ladies donned in white Ao dai and Nón Lá. The performance is considered a remarkable recognition of the country’s performing arts culture. The gentle and flexible movements of the dancers along with the harmonious rhythm provide audiences a soothing and calm repose. In entirety, the dance is an indispensable performance in any art program and is a wonderful representation and symbolism of the Vietnamese culture, national clothing and traditional symbol. Today, a variation of Nón Lá worn with Ao dai distinguishes Vietnam from the rest in international fashion competitions as well as in cultural festivities.

Nón Lá may not be as commonly used anymore in the daily lives of Vietnamese from the urban parts of the county nowadays. But the conical hat strongly remains a symbol of Vietnam and is still popular across the country. For the past thousands of years until today, Nón Lá is very much an integral part of Vietnamese life. If anyone happens to come across a white Nón Lá at any point, it will unmistakably symbolize the Vietnamese charm, elegance and romance.

Non La, A Symbol of Vietnamese’ Charm and Romance .

La Pan Tan Stunning Mountain Village, Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

La Pan Tan Stunning Mountain Village, Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

La Pan Tan is a mountain village of H’mong ethnic people in Mu Cang Chai commune, Yen Bai province of Vietnam. Before 1996 this area was the land of poppies, all families planted poppy. In 2007, Mu Cang Chai’s terraced field has been recognised as a national landscape. The most beautiful terraced field are located in three villages La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and Ze Xu Phing.
Stair Farm Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai, Stair Farm, Vietnam

La Pan Tan Stunning Mountain Village, Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam 2
Stair Farm in La Pan Tan Stunning Mountain Village, Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

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