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Archive for April, 2013

Being Vietnam’s two biggest cities, Hanoi and Saigon are constantly compared to one another. Graphic designer, Nhat Le, has taken the conversation a different direction with his new book, The Difference Between Hanoi and Saigon. Containing simple yet poignant illustrations, the book does an awesome job of capturing the geographical differences in eating habits, hospitality, traffic police and dress.1

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2013: Hung King Festival Day falls in 19 April.

The Legend

To the Vietnamese people, Hung Vuong are considered the founders of their nation, the forefather who had built the basic foundation of the Vietnamese society in the old time. This legend was transmitted orally from generations to generations and has been becoming very familiar to every Vietnamese. It was to appear on the first page of every work of historians in the past, usually commissioned by the ruling dynasties, such as: Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu (Complete History of Dai Viet) edited by historians of the Nguyen Dynasty; Kham Dinh Viet su Thong giam Cuong muc (Summary of the Vietnamese History established by imperial order) edited by historian Ngo Si Lien and collaborators under the Lê Dynasty. The legend was harshly discussed by different scholars who based their criticism on the lack of documents and the chronology of the facts involved in the legend. But it is so attached to the memory of the Vietnamese people to become their common heritage that reveals an origin and a reason to keep them closely united.

Hung King

Hung King

According to the legend, the third descendant of King Than Nong, named De Minh, on his travel to control the southern part of his kingdom, arrived at the region of Ngu Linh, met and married Vu Tien. They had a son named Loc Tuc. Loc Tuc was very intelligent and virtuous, and his father wanted to cede him the throne. But he refused the offer and persuaded his father to pass it on to his elder brother, prince De Nghi. So, De Minh made his eldest son De Nghi his heirs but also conferred Loc Tuc king of the South with the title Kinh Duong Vuong, and the name of the country as Xich Quy.

Kinh Duong Vuong married Long Nu, the daughter of Dong Dinh Vuong – sovereign of the Dong Dinh lake – and gave birth to Sung Lam. When he succeeded his father Sung Lam took the title as Lac Long Quan. Lac Long Quan married au Co the daughter of De Lai and grandchild of De Nghi. Au Co gave birth to a bag containing one hundred eggs hatching out to one hundred sons. Later, Lac Long Quan said to au Co: “I am the son of a Dragon, and you are a fairy. We are different in nature and cannot extend our living together. It is time for us to be departed. I’ll take fifty of our sons to my kingdom on the sea; the other fifty sons will follow you to the uplands to establish sovereignty.”

Au Co and her fifty sons went to the highlands. She crowned the eldest son, King Hung. Hung Vuong named the country Van Lang and made Phong Chau its capital. So, began the dynasty of Hong Bang, and with it the foundation of the Vietnamese nation.

Hung Vuong divided the country into fifteen counties, called his civilian officials Lac Hau and his military officers Lac Tuong. He also titled his sons as Quan Lang and his daughters My Nuong. The dynasty of Hong Bang lasted for eighteen generations, all of its kings taking the same title Hung Vuong.

The Festival

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The Hung King Temple Festival is annually held from 8th to the 11th days of the third lunar month. The main festival day is on the 10th day of the third lunar March, on which the National Assembly has approved Vietnamese working people to annually have one more national holiday to mark the anniversary of the Hung King’s death. Every year, on this traditional occasion, Vietnamese people worldwide join their brothers and sisters in spirit to observe Vietnam National Day in commemoration of their ancestors. The main ceremony takes place at the Hung Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phong Chau District, Phu Tho Province, 85km northwest of Hanoi. The Hung King Temple Festival is one of the most important and sacred festivals of the Vietnamese people, deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they originated from.

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The Temple

The Hung Temple is an ancient and sacred architectural ensemble on the top of the 175 metre-high Nghia Linh Mountain. The festival offers an opportunity for Vietnamese to visit their land of origin. A day before the festival, ancient and modern flags are to be hung along the road leading from Viet Tri to Hung Mountain. A large balloon will also publicise the festival to surrounding areas. On the eve of the festival, 100 flying lights are released into the night sky. The main worship service is held in earnest the following morning, 10th day, beginning with a flower ceremony. In Den Thuong (Upper Temple) where the Hung Kings used to worship deities with full rituals, the ceremony consists of a lavish five-fruit feast. Banh chung (square cake) and banh giay (circle cake) are also served to remind people of the Lang Lieu Legend (the 18th Hung King who invented these cakes), and the merit of the Hung Kings who taught people to grow rice. Next to the stage procession for deities, there are several marches in the procession such as the elephant march followed by the procession chair. The procession marches are followed by a Xoan song performance (a classical type of song) in the Den Thuong, a “Ca Tru” (a kind of classical opera) in Den Ha (Lower Temple), and other activities like cross-bow shooting, rice cooking, swinging contests, cock fighting, and dragon dancing.

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On the day of the Hung King Temple Festival, the Vietnamese always jubilantly take part in the festival with religious belief deeply imbedded in their minds, that is their love and pride of their ancestral land. The Festival not only attracts visitors from all over the country thanks to its special traditional cultural activities, but it is also a sacred pilgrimage back to the origins of the Vietnamese nation.

 

Information collected from various sources

 

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Not with lot of oil like Swedish massage, not too much stretching and deep pressing like Thai, Vietnamese massage seems a mixture of a little Thai, Swedish and hot stone, foot and body together.

I have no idea where and when the massage come to Vietnam but from the feudalist time, the concubines or servants for the King or sorts of had to do something similar once their owners ordered. Later on, there were people earning a living just by being a street masseuse when most of their clients are men and the work was carried out right on street pavement, unbelievable huh??. Along with the “open door” policy, where free entrepreneur was allowed and encouraged, facilitated massage establishments were opened and operated as to meet the demand of that new market economy. At that time, there was quite a negative rumor running around the masseuses who are mostly young girls. Everyone doubt that there must be something hanky-panky happened between the girl and her clients ( mostly men ) in the massage room. It was ironically a lose-face situation then if your friend/relative saw you stepping in a massage shop. The doubt was correct as the majority of massage parlors then were where men looking for happy-ending service. Today, more and more proper-run establishments were opened and believe or not, massage business has been mushrooming in all the big cities of Vietnam for over 20 years now. Of course, people don’t see it with a curious eyes anymore.

massage

Traveling in Vietnam, after a day tour to all the sights in the city of Hanoi or Saigon or just got back from a long journey to Ha Giang, it is good to think of a massage parlor to ease your legs and back from lot of walking or long hours drive in the vehicle. To some massage lovers, trying a massage while traveling to a new destination is also a way to enrich their experience. Some good establishments offer not only a full package but also a detail menu for you to choose from. It is suggested that a package of 75-90′ can be right for everyone. Starting from foot with some herbal medicinal foot dip, the body, the hot stone and ending by the head. Price of this package is ranging from $12-15, including tip. If you ask for a private room, surcharge may apply for another $7-10. There are plenty of good massages in both Hanoi and Saigon but here is our two specific recommendation as below:

In Hanoi: Massage Dai Cat, 102 Tue Tinh str, Hai Ba Trung dist, Hanoi. Tel 04-39436303

In Saigon: Massage 118 at 118 Pasteur str, District 1, HCMC. Tel 08-38215313.

Some further notes:

-Make sure your belongings are well watched or safely placed while being in the massage.

-Expect some private talks might happen between the two masseuses. Feel free to advise them to stop for the good sake of your relaxing hours.

-Even tip included, 90% of the case is nice try for further tip. Choice is on you, to give them a little more or to ask for the Manager.

Happy traveling and relaxing!

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