June 29, 2011

Steles in Hanoi named among UNESCO Memory of the World

Vietnam’s steles at the Temple of Literature is among the 45 latest namings recognized by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program.


Steles in Temple of Literature 

Launched in 1992, Memory of the World program is one of the many international initiatives operated by UNESCO in an effort to preserve human’s cultural and traditional heritages. Unlike World Heritage program which celebrates the beauty of the place, Memory of the World is about archival holdings, missing documents, oral traditions and historical collections from all over the world. Vietnam’s steles at the Temple of Literature is among the 45 latest namings recognized by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program.

Founded in 1070, the Temple of Literature is the oldest university in Vietnam, though it no longer functions as one. Located about 10 minutes away from the Old Quarter, this historical site attracts hundreds of visitors per day. Its tranquil environment, historic feel and cultural charm continue to make it a highlight in the travel agenda of Hanoians and non-Hanoians alike.

The steles, which sit on the back of stone turtles, record the names of 2313 Vietnamese doctorate holders since the 15th century. The studious traditions of Vietnamese are well reflected in the 82 steles, which have survived all the turbulent war time of Vietnamese history. The recognition of this symbols as UNESCO Memory of the World further strengthens these prides and honours of Vietnamese.

Every year in late January and May, many local high school students come and rub the head of the turtle, in the wish that they will pass all the coming examinations with flying colors.

Source: http://www.vietnamonline.com

June 24, 2011

Tram Chim National Park – a green island of red-headed cranes

If you visit Tram Chim National Park in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap during the time of day when the highest tides occur, normally from August to November, you can take a motorboat ride through forests rich with plants and flowers and green cajeput trees.

Tram Chim National Park is an eco-tourist area known as a “green island” with a typical natural landscape of the submerged region of Dong Thap Muoi. The park is home to many botanical species and nearly 200 species of water birds which account for about a quarter of the birds in Vietnam. 

This includes many rare and precious species of water birds. Among them, the most well-known are the red-headed cranes, one of 15 endangered species of cranes in the world. Nearly 60 percent of the population of red-headed cranes resides in Tram Chim National Park.

Red-headed cranes at Tram Chim National Park

The red-headed crane is the tallest among the flying birds in the world. Many of them are nearly 2m tall. They have smooth grey fur,long legs and a long neck. They walk slowly and stretch their wings wide when flying. The cry of the crane is loud and can be heard far away, up to 2-3km. This is because the crane has a long windpipe that creates a sound resonance phenomenon, just like the tube of a trumpet.

June 04, 2011

USA today recommends adventure travel tours to Cambodia


Trekking in Cambodia offers a chance to meet local residents and experience the countryside firsthand. Active Travel Cambodia offers a trip called Trek Rattanakiri that features walking on jungle paths and on roads through towns. Rattanakiri is a rural area in northeast Cambodia known for its natural beauty, and trip activities include swimming in the shadow of pristine waterfalls. You also camp in villages and enjoy cultural interactions with ethnic minority tribes.

Trekking Rattanakiri

If you love the water, you can take a kayaking trip with companies such as Adventure-Cambodia. Tours range from one-day to multi-day outings. One trip features bird watching as you kayak on wetlands in the north, and others involve jungle or ocean kayaking. On an ocean trip, you kayak to islands, snorkel and stay in a beach bungalow. Adventure-Cambodia also has multi

June 03, 2011

Green stamp on jungle style

In a country best known for its temples, Jane Dunford finds a floating ecolodge that's a gateway to a pristine environment.

I am, it's fair to say, in the middle of nowhere. This is the Tatai River, east of Koh Kong, in the southern reaches of Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains. Halfway between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, this is a pristine area of rainforest and coastal mangroves that barely features on the tourist trail.

The Tatai River
The entire resort is waterborne - the brilliant idea of its Romanian owner Valentin Pawlik. You get here by boat, arriving at one of a series of floating wooden platforms. A central pontoon houses the bar, restaurant and library.

It's all very eco-friendly too, largely solar-powered and staffed mostly by locals - so you needn't have a guilty conscience. Move it away and there'd be little sign that it had ever existed.

Leaving the fireflies to party, I paddle slowly back to the lodge and feast on spicy shrimp and freshwater fish with coconut, cooked in banana leaves, before heading for a blissful night's rest, lulled to sleep by the gentle bobbing of water.

Most visitors to Cambodia flock to the revitalised capital of Phnom Penh further east and to the temples around Siem Reap in the north. This coastal region, part of the Koh Kong conservation corridor, is home to some of the country's most impressive natural sights.

Four Rivers, with its gorgeous setting on a bend in the river, is magical at all times of day - misty in the morning, glowing at sunset and prettily lit up after dark - and is as tranquil a place as you could wish for.

I spend much of my time here kayaking through the mangrove maze (spotting those fireflies and watching monkeys gather at the water's edge at dusk), swimming in the river from steps outside my tent and visiting waterfalls, where the pounding torrent gives a great back massage.

There are excursions into the jungle, led by a former poacher, to spot wildlife and visit villages and fruit plantations (overnight camping is a new option).

We stop at Koh Sra Lau, an island with one tiny fishing village, and wander around while women sit mending nets and offer us fried fish with tamarind sauce and papaya.

Cycling Angkor Temples
I'm keen to explore more, so the next day head to Chi Phat village and a community-based project started by conservation charity Wildlife Alliance, in the Southern Cardamoms protected forest.

There are several guesthouses but I choose a home stay on the outskirts of town with Chou and her young family, who sit underneath a stilted wooden house, a cow curled at their feet like a pet dog. A far cry from the luxuries of Four Rivers it may be but it's clean, comfortable and a great way to see everyday village life.

Chi Phat is all about outdoor adventure: you can trek or cycle into jungle and mountains for days at a time, sleeping in hammocks or rustic campsites, go bird watching, take boat trips or check out the nearby bat caves and an area dotted with mysterious, ancient burial jars.

I sign up for a 28-kilometre mountain bike tour to O'Malu waterfall. Crossing grassy plains and traditional farmland, we follow Lucky - a 23-year-old from the village who's been trained in everything from bike maintenance to wildlife spotting - up steep paths through the tangled jungle, with gibbons calling high overhead.

It's a challenging ride in parts but jumping into the cool pool at the base of the waterfall is a great reward.

Marvellous though the sights of Angkor Wat and the buzz of Phnom Penh are, I can't help thinking that it's Cambodia's more remote natural attractions that offer the best adventure.

Source: smh.com.au