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Three centuries on, old Hanoi house stands proud

Wooden and stone structures in Duong Lam village on the outskirts of Hanoi have weathered everything the elements have thrown at them for centuries.

Duong Lam ancient village, in the capital city’s rural town of Son Tay, is one of the oldest cultural sites in Vietnam. It has 956 ancient houses including those built in 1649, 1703 or 1850.

Situated 44 kilometers to the northwest of Hanoi, the village is a popular destination for both locals and foreign visitors seeking to explore a traditional Vietnamese village.

The houses here are all made of stone, oak wood, bamboo, and terracotta tiles and have a five- or seven-chamber structure.

The house of Nguyen Van Hung is recognized as the best-preserved house in the village despite being 369 years old.

The five-chamber house is 14.5 meters long and seven meters wide. Its three central chambers are devoted to the worship of ancestors, while the rest are for living.

“From a prayer document preserved in the house, the Institute of Han-Nom Studies, which translated it, found that the construction was done back in 1649,” Nguyen Van Hung, the owner of the house, said.

Han-Nom was the former script used for Vietnamese.

Typical furniture found in an old Vietnamese house dating back to centuries ago. In the center is the shrine to worship ancestors.

The trusses and doors were made mainly from jackfruit and oak wood. The entrance doors, which have existed for centuries, are locked with a latch.

Hung said: “According to scientists, the wood in the house has existed for hundreds of years. Termites could not damage it. The stains here are from the early days of the house. However, the lower parts of the house are damp due to the weather here.”

Inside and outside the house are trusses supporting its entire structure crafted by hand from stone.

In 2008, after Duong Lam was recognized as a national relic, the house was restored for the first time by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The structure of the house was intact while parts that had degraded were restored. Adhesive materials are added to strengthen the structure of the house.

The original gable and roof are intact.

The roof beams are intricately carved.

The architecture of the ancient village is associated with the use of stone. The house’s foundation is made of this material.

Simple fishing tools are hung on a bamboo wall next to the main chambers of the house.

Many old wooden trays remain in the house. Everything is placed in the middle of the house.

The roof tiles are arranged into several layers, creating ventilation and protection for the walls and columns. Normally the owner has to rotate the tiles every 15 years, check and replace cracked ones.

This house has been passed down through 12 generations. Six family members currently live in the two chambers on the outside.

Source: Ngoc Thanh (VNEXPRESS)

Central Highlands

November, the best time to visit these awesome Vietnamese destinations

As chilly November arrives it is the best time to pay a visit to these places.Ha Giang – buckwheat flower festival

Ha Giang – buckwheat flower festival

Photo by VnExpress/Tung Duong

Photo by VnExpress/Tung Duong

Ha Giang Province nestles in the mountains of northern Vietnam. It is home to ethnic minorities like the H’Mong, Thai and others. Visitors to the province can witness exotic local lifestyles.

The wildness of its nature is the captivating feature of Ha Giang. The province attracts many motorbike riders and trekkers every year. Mother Nature has gifted Ha Giang with diverse scenery with mighty rocky mountains, golden rice terraces and, in November, magnificent white and magenta fields of buckwheat flowers.

Buckwheat is among the staple grains of the locals, and is usually cultivated after the summer-fall rice crop every year. Now buckwheat flowers have bloomed all over mountain slopes in Dong Van District.

This year the annual buckwheat flower festival starts on November 10 with cultural activities, traditional games and a buckwheat flower competition.

1,000-year-old capital, Hanoi

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

November may mark the start of winter in many places, but in Hanoi autumn lingers. This is arguably the best time of the year to visit the city, when it wears a whole new façade with the renowned hoa sua (milk flower) and streets gilded with fallen golden leaves and cuisine specialties.

Photo by VnExpress

Photo by VnExpress

In November do not miss a walk through Hanoi’s most romantic streets, Phan Dinh Phung, Hoang Dieu and Tran Phu. The hoa sua (milk flower) have bloomed all over these streets, giving off a glorious aroma.

Visitors can also explore the maze of alleys in the old quarter to find autumn specialties like green rice, green rice cake and ragworm, or sit by an open-air café in the cool wind and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese egg coffee.

The ancient citadel of Hue

Photo by Quoc Viet

November heralds autumn in Hue in central Vietnam. Hue typically expects pleasant weather and less rain this month, perfect for tourists to take a trip around the royal citadel and mighty tombs of old kings.

The Hue citadel complex holds in itself the historical legacy of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last imperial rulers of Vietnam. The tombs of the Nguyen kings are situated around Hue’s suburbs, which can be reached by car or motorbike.

The Hue cuisine is not to be missed. Mussels with rice/noodles, Hue beef noodles, steamed rice cake and tapioca dumplings are among the must-try dishes in the city. In the cool weather of autumn, the spicy mussels with rice can warm your stomach, and a bowl of beef noodles can give you a nutritious fix for a whole day of exploration.

Tree marigold in Gia Lai

Gia Lai museum. Photo by VnExpress

Gia Lai museum. Photo by VnExpress

Gia Lai Province is in the Central Highlands and has a tropical highland climate. Tourists should visit the province in the dry season in November or December. This is when the rice terraces on the hill slopes are ripe and marigolds have painted the paths yellow.

Tourists can stay in Pleiku City, the center of Gia Lai. One place to visit is the Gia Lai Museum where cultural and historical relics of the local ethnic groups are preserved.

Photo by VnEpxress/Thanh Nguyen

Photo by VnEpxress/Thanh Nguyen

The Chu Dang Ya volcano is a must-visit place for flower lovers since it has the best scenes of blooming tree marigold. The volcano is situated in Chu Dang Ya Commune, Chu Pah District, 30 kilometers to the northeast of Pleiku. Locals can give you directions, so if you are lost do not worry.

Da Lat, the city of dreams

Da Lat City is among the favorite destinations for tourists visiting Vietnam. The rainy season has ended in early November, so it is a good time to visit this city.

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

In Da Lat, you can visit the Valley of Love, Da Lat train station, Golden Valley, and Langbiang Mountain.

Da Lat is also in the Central Highlands, so tourists can expect to see tree marigold here.

The best floral scenes can be found at Da Lat University, Pham Hong Thai Street and the Minh Hoa seminary.

Source: By Minh Quan (VNEXPRESS)

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An Giang

The palm that sweetens life in Mekong Delta province

An Giang residents love the palmyra palm for the sustained supply of toddy, juice and raw sugar that it provides.

Known locally as the thot not, Borassus flabellifer, commonly known as doub palm, palmyra palm, tala palm, toddy palm and even wine palm, this species can be found everywhere in An Giang. The local name is derived from th’not in the Khmer language.

They provide a thirst-quenching drink, toddy, made by collecting the sap of its flowers. The palm sugar made from this also carries a special sweetness. The tall palms also beautifully break the monotony of rice fields in the Mekong Delta province.

A thirst-quencher

The thot not juice is often misunderstood as juice from its fruit. But this is actually sap tapped from its flowers. The juice has a light sweet taste and is often served with some slices of succulent thot not fruit. The drink is said to contain many minerals and vitamins that are good for health. It tastes best served with ice.

The tastiest sap is the one harvested early in the morning. If harvested in the evening the sap will get sour and have a fermented taste, which is turned into toddy, an alcoholic drink. Thot not juice is sold in many sidewalk stalls and markets in An Giang.

Sweetmeats

Thot not plays an important role in An Giang’s dessert scene. It is used as the sweetener in most dishes. The thot not pie, rich and sweet, is a steal at VND15,000 ($0.6) a pack.

To make the pies, the pulp of ripened thot not fruit is ground and the juice extracted. The flesh is then mixed with rice flour and thot not sugar and steamed.

Other snacks made here include sweet soups and jelly.

A sweet gift

Thot not sugar is one of the most famous delicacies of An Giang. It’s extracted from the thot not sap then cooked and hardened into round brown clots. The brown sugar is recommended because it retains the natural and original taste. The whiter version is refined. The sugar is not just used in daily cooking, it is also a popular gift item. Some sugar makers even let you make the sugar yourself.

A photo cover

Photographs taken in An Giang never fail to feature the palms against the rising and setting suns. If you show a Vietnamese person a photograph with these palms, she or he will know that you have been to An Giang.

Source: By Linh Sea, Tuan Hoang (VNEXPRESS)

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Destination

Pristine Nam Du islands offer a quiet getaway

The Nam Du Archipelago in southern Kien Giang Province takes some getting to, but that adds to its quiet, clean charms.

The 21 islands that form the Nam Du Archipelago offer visitors a real break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

It takes a seven-hour drive on a bus from Ho Chi Minh City and a two hour boat ride from Rach Gia City in Kien Giang Province.

The islands can be visited anytime of the year, but it’s best to go between November and May when the sea is quiet (and clean) and tourists can avoid getting seasick.

The archipelago only gets power from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day, so charging devices like phones, computers and flashlights should be done at this time.

Taking a walk along the beaches where there is no power enhances the experience of the island’s beauty.

The lack of many activities in the evening, for instance, makes a fire camp or beach barbecue far more enjoyable.

Cool and windy throughout the year, Nam Du is an ideal holiday destination.

A few resorts and homestays have set up bird stations where pigeons congregate, and watching their comings and goings is a pleasant way to while away the time.

The untouched sandy beaches and crystal blue waters of the sea are the greatest attractions on this archipelago, and one cannot get enough of gazing at this wonder.

And given the number of islands, there is a lot of gazing that can get done. For boat rides of just VND150,000 ($7), people can discover islands like Hon Ngang, Bai Nom and Da Den.

Bungalows by the beach.

At the Ngu beach, most of the people are fishermen, but they can tell you one interesting royal fact. Gia Long (1762-1820), the first Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty – the last Vietnamese dynasty – came here for a vacation.

For those who want to do more than walk on the beach, swimming and diving to see corals under the sea are favored options.

Another activity to engage in apart from long walks on the beach is to rent a bike and cycle/drive around each island. Motorbike rentals cost VND150,000 to 200,000 ($6.5 to 8.5).

Nguyen Oanh, a first time visitor, had no such interest: “Nam Du is so beautiful and pristine. I love the feeling of walking by the beach and listening to the waves.”

Source: Hong Ha(VNEXPRESS)

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