BAO THIEN TOWER

BAO THIEN TOWER

 

 

  • Bao Thien Tower – A historic witness:

 Bao Thien Tower, the tower which was considered as one of 4 greatest treasures of An Nam (the name of Vietnam under Ly dynasty) is still a popular destination for history lover. Not only is it famous for its historical meaning but it is also for its thrilling stories. Although Bao Thien Tower now only exists in the memory of Vietnamese and in history books but it stories still recall people about the old time changes and French invasion.

Bao Thien was located on the land of Great Church (Nha tho Lon) in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. The tower has always play vital roles in people’s heart against French colonists. For it disappearance, it’s the clearest confirmation of attempting to convert Vietnamese to indoctrination of Christian of colonists. Clearly, it was result of history but hardly do people know about the real reason of its collapse. Thus, Bao Thien Tower becomes a reminder of thrill.

  1. Bao Thien Tower – The birth of one of four greatest treasures

    BaoThien-Tower-in-history

    BaoThien-Tower-in-history

  • Along with Quy Dien bell, Pho Minh “vac”( looks like incense-burner) and Quynh Lam pagoda, Bao Thien tower were proud of Vietnamese under Ly Thanh Tong dynasty(1028-1054).  Through Vietnam history, Buddhism was the most flourishing while Ly Kings ruled over the country in 126 years. In that time, many pagodas in Vietnamese were completed.
  • After ascending the throne, Ly King decided to build a pagoda on the Luc Thuy (Hoan Kiem Lake now) called Sung Khanh Bao Thien to worship Buddhists and a respected monk Khong Lo. The King agreed to support 12,000 kilograms copper to make a big bell in the pagoda.
  • In the next year, in 1057, Ly Thanh Tong gave an order to build Dai Thanh Tu Thien Tower on the land of Bao Thien pagoda. According to many historical documents, it had 12 storey but there is no evidence of the exact height of it.  On account of being built in Sung Khanh Bao Thien pagoda, the tower was named after Bao Thien tower.
  1. Structure and meaning of Bao Thien Tower:

    BaoThien-Tower-in-the-pass

    BaoThien-Tower-in-the-pass

  • It was located on a mound in Bao Thien Ward in the East of imperial city Thang Long. Main material of it were brick and stone which written “made in the fourth Long Thuy Thai Binh years, the third Ly king).
  • The reason of even number of storey was the aim of making a treasure of the nation so the tower represented for balance and stability like Ly dynasty.  The third floor had a sentence “the King is longevity”. Other ones were made by copper. On the top of Bao Thien Tower was carved “Dao Ly Thien” (the sky spear).
  • Inside the construction, numerous skillful human stone and concept stone were preserved. At that time, the tower was the most spectacular structure in Thang Long imperial city, indicating for Dai Viet strong country.
  • In 1426, when Minh army (Chinese now) invaded Vietnam, they were surrounded by the nation army. While waiting for support, the Minh army destroyed the tower to take copper making weapons. After that, Le dynasty renovated it many times so it still kept it vital roles for locals.
  1. The collapse of the Bao Thien Tower

 

  • Before the tower disappeared completely, it was destroyed several times by natural phenomenon.
  • According to the history, on Autumn 1258, the highest floor was destroyed by a strong storm. On February 1322, it was stuck by lighting. On June 1406, the top of tower felt down. However, after three times renovation, Bao Thien tower still existed despite being changed some parts. The highlight of the real collapse of it was when French invaded Vietnam.  Many stories were told but at no time that any documents were given to the public. Thus, many theories have been born. Among them, the theory was written in “Dai Viet Su Ki Toan Thu” of Ngo Si Lien is the most reliable.
  • It is said that in 1882, after French took over 3 Easter provinces from Hue, Henri Riviere led army to occupy Hanoi. When the nation country was beaten, Henri Riviere ordered army to destroy many parts of Thang long imperial city and pagodas, temples as well. The aim of them was to sweep the nation traditional culture and ministered Christian to Vietnam. Since then Bao Thien pagoda disappeared in Hanoi map. Not long after, Great Church was built on the land of Bao Thien pagoda. So, did Bao Thien Tower disappeared by the same reason?  In fact, when Bao Thien pagoda felt down, the Bao Thien Tower didn’t exist anymore.
  • Actually, there are hundred rumors of reason why Bao Thien Tower felt down. Some people distorted that in order to prepare for building the Great Church, the tower had to be removed. However, it is Minh army who destroyed the tower.  While being surrounded by Vietnamese army, Minh army took the top of the tower which resulting of the collapse of tower.
  • On the land of Bao Thien tower, not long after the Great Church was put up. A new time of new religion started like that. Being an independent country now but now Vietnamese people forget what their accents had to suffer and what they had to pay to reclaim freedom: blood, tears and the collapse of numerous wonderful structure as well.

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GHOST MONEY – THE SPIRIT OF  VIETNAMESE PEOPLE

GHOST MONEY – THE SPIRIT OF VIETNAMESE PEOPLE

 

1. The origin of using ghost money:

Vietnamese spiritual life involves our belief on ghost and life in another world for dead people. The use of Ghost money or Spirit money is deeply rooted in Asian culture.

1.1 The definition of ghost money:

Ghost-monney-Hanoifreelocaltours

Ghost-money-Hanoifreelocaltours

Ghost money (joss paper) traditionally made from bamboo, emits large quantities of carcinogenic chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbonyls and benzene. Contemporary forms of joss money are rather different; they look more like the money from current times. Westernized varieties include copies of Bank notes (Chinese Yuan, Thai Baht, Vietnamese Dong, or even the US Dollar, cheques and paper credit cards. Some people even go as far as offering papier-mâché houses, cars, toilets, servants, passports, flight tickets, rice cookers and even flat-screen TVs. The bank notes are specifically meant for dead ancestors to give as a tribute to the God of Death for a short stay or to escape punishment. The bank note copies are often of outrageous denominations – they can range anywhere between $10,000 and $500,000. These notes carry an image of the ‘Bank of Hell’ on the back. ‘Hell’ in itself is not viewed as a place of torture, but a more neutral realm.

1.2 The belief of ghost money among the Vietnamese:

 

Burning-ghost-money-Hanoifreelocaltours

Burning-ghost-money-Hanoifreelocaltours

Burning ghost money and votive paper such as clothes, shoes, hats, toiletries and toys are popular among the Vietnamese. Exceptions to this tradition are Roman Catholics, Protestants and followers of other religions who account for less than 10% of the population.
The paper money is believed to be deposited in an afterlife bank of sorts, from which the deceased spirits can make withdrawals. The ritual is said to be derived from a mix of regional folklore and Taoism. The practice of ancestor worship is largely religious, stemming from the fact that the spirits of the deceased are still interested in the affairs of the world. Keeping them happy brings blessings from them for the living. Another explanation for the concept is that the living is allowed to ask spirits to fulfill their wishes, for which they are indebted. This debt cannot be entirely cleared off while alive, so the ghost money sent after death is used to repay whatever they owe the spirits.

1.3 The uses of ghost money in Vietnam

Using-votive-paper-Hanoifreelocaltours

Using-votive-paper-Hanoifreelocaltours

Spirit money itself has many different uses; however, it is used generally as a symbol of transformation, payment of spiritual debts. The notes used as “money” are transformed to spirit money when they are used as symbolic offerings to ghosts, gods, and ancestors. The burning of spirit money allows it to be transferred to ghosts, gods, and ancestors to be used as real currency in the other world. Furthermore, spirit money serves a vital role in association with the offering of food to some ghosts, gods, and ancestors. The offering of food serves to bring our ancestors and other beings in the other world closer to us. It serves as a bonding tool to bring both worlds together. This can be seen in cultures all around the world where feasts, dinners, and other social events use money to bring the community together. Spirit money on the other hand serves to separate the living world from the world of ghosts, gods, and ancestors. It is not natural to have both of these worlds in close connection with each other. The use of spirit money is very similar to how we use money in our society today. It is generally used as a tool to maintain a certain level of distance between two parties during a transaction. The concepts of food and money correlate directly to the offerings to ghosts, gods, and ancestors. We use food to bring them close to us and money to separate them from us.
Locals in Vietnam celebrate spiritual practices on the first and fifteenth of every month based on the lunar calendar. They burn incense sticks and ghost money at home as offerings to Buddha, gods and the dead. They simply pray for good luck and pay homage to ancestors. Such rituals are also regularly performed at funerals and on the anniversaries of the deaths of family members and relatives throughout the year.
Spirit money is used in many differing activities. For example, the critical role of spirit money is to repay the debts of our ancestors. The spirit of the ancestor must obtain a body and a fate to pursue it karmic course. However, in order for it to do so, it must pay its mystical debt that accumulates over a person’s life. This rationale explains why people burn such large amounts of spirit money at funerals, for no one ever complete succeeds in repaying his celestial debt. His descendants must pay for him. The living person attempts to pay off this debt by praying and making monetary donations to the gods and temples. However, no one pays off their debts entirely while alive, so their remaining family burns spirit money which is transmitted to their deceased family member. The deceased family member uses this money to pay down the remainder of his debt and embarks on his karmic journey.
Vietnamese people have been burning money since they were kids. They throw the money into it a big cylinder, heavy, and made of metal or something like that and put that outside the house and burn the paper money and paper clothes. Inside the house they have the altar where we burn incense, and pray to the dead. T


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Đặng Tiên,

DENTIST AND DENTAL CARE IN VIETNAM

DENTIST AND DENTAL CARE IN VIETNAM

 

 

What if you suffer from acute tooth pain? The discomfort lasting for only moments will make you feel bad. Instead of suffering it, let find a dentist for you. Many tourists count on the quality of dental care service as well as professional qualification of Vietnamese dentists, so they combine between visiting Vietnam and caring their teeth at the same time.

1. Private Dentist in Hanoi.

 

Private-dentist-in-Hanoi-Hanoifreelocaltours

Private-dentist-in-Hanoi-Hanoifreelocaltours

In recent time, many people want to use the services of dental clinics instead of going to the hospital because of some reasons:

  • The very good services dentist give you, with a high-tech machines and a reasonable price
  • You don’t have to wait too long for your turn
  • The procedures are very easy not complex like at hospital.
  • You can see the dental clinics everywhere in the city
  • You are not limited by the time, private dentist will give you the care on Saturday, Sunday day and even night.

However, there also have many disadvantages you are likely to meet If you put all your belief on them. Remember that, because this is private services, therefore, they can charge whatever they like. There are no set limits

  • The best tips for you are that:
  • Find and choose a prestige one. Priority should be given to a dental clinic you knew in advanced
  • Before choosing a private dentist you should phone a few and ask how much they charge for a check- up and before you agree to any treatment, you are supposed to ask your dentist for a written “treatment plan” and detail of any schemes they operate.

    2. Dentist from hospital

Dentist-from-hospital-Hanoifreelocaltours

Dentist-from-hospital-Hanoifreelocaltours

If you want to go to hospital for curing, it is not a bad idea. The fact is that, going to hospital means you face with a great many of complex procedures and waiting a long time for your turn. The condition, furniture and hygiene are not as good as at private clinic. On the other hand, the fee you have to pay for hospital is less than private dentist’s. Especially, if you have health insurance, the price is even cheaper. In the case that, you need a few repeat times then going to hospital is highly recommended.

  • Some prestigious clinics:

Peace Dental Clinic
2nd Floor, 51A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3715 2286
sites.google.com/site/peacedentalcenter/home
frederick@peaceclinic.biz

One Dental
Number 8, Lane 27, Xuan Dieu, Hanoi
T: (04) 3718 6168
reception@onedentalvietnam.com
www.onedentalvietnam.com/

Westcoast International Dental Clinic
2nd floor, Syrena Centre, 51 Xuan Dieu, Hanoi
T: (04) 3710 0555
www.westcoastinternational.com/

Australian Dental Clinic
3 Nguyen Du, Dong Da District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3944 5216

 

 


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Ngọc Thắng,

 

 

 

HANOI OPERA HOUSE

HANOI OPERA HOUSE

1         The view of the Hanoi Opera House

The Hanoi Opera house is not only a historical, artistic building but it also is a stage full of greatest performances worldwide. Either you are art lovers or not, the Hanoi Opera House is the place you shouldn’t miss. Definitely, it is worth your time to see it.

 

Located near Sword Lake and many famous places, Hanoi opera house plays an important role in conveying culture of Vietnam to foreigners and developing art of Vietnam.  Hundred years went by regardless, the Hanoi opera house is a unique structure with outstanding values in term of art, architect, culture and history. The house has been well-known for a symbol of great art in Vietnam and a dream of any Vietnamese artists.

*)            The Vietnam national Opera under the French colonization

A historical evidence under the French colonization

Hanoi-Opera-House-in 20th century

Hanoi-Opera-House-in 20th century

Built from 1901 to 1911, it was a special project of French Government when French occupied Vietnam. A 11 year- construction in a colonial country is something which seems to be unbelievable. However, there are many other evidences proving that French colonists invested a great amount of money and work force to this construction.

 

It position was formerly a wetland areas belong to two villages, Thach Tan and Tay Luong. Thus, the construction is a strenuous work. Under technical supervision of two famous architect Harley, Broyer and many comments of others architects, the work still demanded a huge workforce and materials. 300 workers were working continuously. They used 35,000 bamboo poles and concrete blocks of 0,9m thick. Besides, 12,000m3 of materials with 600 tons of iron and steel on the total area of 2600m2 are amazing figures for any construction.

Now, you may put a question “Why French decided to build an expensive building in Hanoi?”

In fact, in 1899, envoy of Hanoi – Richard decided to build a city council meeting building. The aim of it is entertaining. They wanted a place for Western artists to perform yearly for French colonists. Vietnamese higher classes were allowed to come to the house but they had to be dress up and paid much money for tickets.

Through Vietnam history, many important events were held in the opera house. On 29/8/1945, the Northland Vietnamese Army was introduced formally in public at the opera house’ Square.

On 16/9/1945, the Golden week was held in the square to donate money, gold and necessary things for the Government when it was founded by Ho Chi Minh President.

On 2/9/1946, the Government celebrated one year anniversary of Vietnam Democratic Republic in the Opera house. At the same time, it was used to welcome Uncle Ho for the first time.

 

Looked in a positive way, the Hanoi opera house proved the development of Hanoi and Vietnam under French colonization. Moreover, it is also a historical witness in those greatest days of Vietnam so there is no doubt that it is one of the vital buildings in Hanoi.

*)            Opera House in Hanoi– A peak of architecture art in Vietnam

Honoi-Opera-House-at-night

Honoi-Opera-House-at-night

A peak of architecture art in Vietnam

So impressive the structure of building is that everyone coming here has a same feeling of it – amazing.  The architects were inspired by ancient Greek architecture styles and Paris opera house. It can be said that nowhere in Hanoi do you find a structure which has a perfect mixture of urban and capital architecture.

The facade was designed with pillars and balconies overlooking the city center. A wide stage and a main auditorium with area of 24x 24 with 870 seat surrounding give a strong impression on people. There were many small rooms for individual tickets on the middle floor. A large hall was located between the middle stair and the second floor.  At both sides, extra stairs and hallway make a emphasis to the house. Artists performing in the house have 18 suites in an administrator room for makeup and restroom, 2 rooms for training, 1 library and a meeting room. Especially, on the second floor, a mirror room is home to important ceremonies, signing important documents and welcomes dignitaries worldwide. Equipped with modern equipment and designed soundproofed walls, auditorium can make you be deep in wonderful melodies worldwide.

*)            A golden dream of Opera artists

Opera-House-Dream-of-artists-Hanoifreelocaltours

Opera-House-Dream-of-artists-Hanoifreelocaltours

A golden dream of artists

Not only it is a symbol of Hanoi in many aspects but it is also the Hanoi opera house is a stage of flourishing art. So many great performances have been displayed here that it is dream of all Vietnamese artists. Invited to perform in the stage is  a way to recognize their talent and contribution to art of Vietnam,.

Since completed, it has been the stage of various forms of music. Initially, only classical music can be performed four times per week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday such as Opera or Drama.

Nowadays, music lovers have much more choices when they come to the Opera house. No sooner had Vietnam been an opening country than many forms of music were imported to Vietnam. Therefore, on the stage of the Opera house, new performances have chance to access to audiences.

For lovers of opera or drama people, they are satisfied with Carmen, the Secret Garden or Hamlet. They are the most performances in the world and were displayed in many countries worldwide. Should you love ballet, you can choose Casse Noisette or Swan Lake.

In addition, contemporary music, symphony or Vietnamese plays may bring to you relaxing minutes after hard time of work in the weekend.

Despite being an art stage, the Hanoi opera house also have special functions for the Government. It is places to celebrate art and cultural activities for political, social purposes or exchange culture with other countries. Conferences, seminars and press conferences under plan of Ministry of Culture Sport and Tourism are taken place in the opera house as well.

 

2          Useful information for audiences of Hanoi Opera House

Because the opera house is a luxurious and the most famous stage in Vietnam, you are not allowed to come in it without ticket. Moreover, you should notice on some following rules to avoid unexpected circumstances.

  •         Well dressing is recommended.
  •         Tickets don’t cover children and the opera house is not suitable for children under 6 years old.
  •         Do not smoke or bring food to the opera house.
  •         Don’t use any devices to record anything without allowance of managers.
  •         Switch your phone to silence mode or airline mode when performances begin.
  •         You are not allowed to come in the Opera house 15 minutes before performances begin.
  •         Keep silence while you are watching.
  •         If you need assistance, please find deposit room or public heath room.

Price of ticket:

There is no fixed price for tickets. It depends on what the performance you want to watch. Average price is about 300,000 VND -1,000,000 VND/ ticket.

In order to get more information about schedule of show, please to access to http://www.hanoioperahouse.org.vn/

Address:

01th  Trang Tien – Hoan Kiem District – Hanoi – Vietnam


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ANCIENT BAT TRANG POTTERY VILLAGE

ANCIENT BAT TRANG POTTERY VILLAGE

 

  • Overview of Bat Trang ceramic village

Bat Trang_ Aaseven-century old village with tradition of making porcelain and pottery through historical ups and downs is a destination that you shouldn’t miss when you are in Hanoi. No matter how many places you have visited, the Bat Trang village will give you unforgettable experiences and truly understand historical stories of Vietnam- an age-old culture country. Moreover, you will have interesting feeling when making something like a glass, a bowl, a vase,…in your own.

  1. History of Bat Trang village.

History-of-BatTrang-village

History-of-BatTrang-village

Located in an area near Red River- the silty river in Vietnam, Bat Trang village has advantages to make pottery and porcelain. However, the name of village existed since Le dynasty when five big families decided to move to Thang Long imperial citadel to do business. Craftsman and pottery makers also moved to the places with their children and relatives. The way they produced products at that time was household productions so number of products were very limited. After 500 years, Bat Trang village has been known as a traditional village. Then, production of village was organized again with a view of develop the village faster and faster.

Despite of being an officially traditional village for 500 years ago, products of village had been highly appreciated since 14th and 15th century. Not only did it famous in domestic market but they were also exported to big market in the world thanks to the Japanese, Chinese and Western trading boasts that passed by.

Unfortunately, under Trinh and Nguyen dynasty, restrict foreign policy prevented ceramic products. These products could not export to any countries except for our domestic market. Since 1986, when Vietnam reclaimed freedom and became an independent country, opening trade policy encouraged to produce strongly. That’s why the world has a chance to know a high quality ceramic and porcelain brand like Bat Trang Vietnam.

Once time, production in the village felt down because demand of market has changed all the time. In order to catch up with market trend, potters and craftsmen renovated their production to come back to the golden age. Nowadays, apart from producing for market, more than 1000 household productions with many shops are always ready to serve tourists.

2. Creative Pottery Products

pottery-products-Hanoifreelocaltours

pottery-products-Hanoifreelocaltours

With creativity and skill, Vietnamese craftsmen made many forms of ceramic and porcelain products to meet customers’ demand. Bowls, cups, plates, bottles and so on are popular products of the village. Besides, customers can order product as they requested.

Compared with other famous producing-ceramic countries in the world, Vietnam has fewer advantages in all aspects. Nevertheless, not any person can deny the high quality products of Bat Trang village.

Initially, all of products were made by hands. Processed soil was shaped in potter’s wheels. Nowadays, no longer does the form of production used because of demand of market. Potters shape the soil into mound. Yet, most of other steps are still made by hands.

There is no doubt that handmade products can’t have a perfect appearance like mass products in factories. So why are these products accepted in the market? If you are a pottery and ceramic lover, you will have answer easily: imperfection makes perfection. These products aren’t as perfect as mass ones but they have spirits of potters that no factory can make. Vignettes drawn by hand give a strong impression on customers and are emphasizes as well. Sometimes, potters have to spend hours on drawing vignettes of products. So many workforces is spent that products seem to be spiritual children of potters. Another vital reason is that each product of Bat Trang village reflects Vietnamese’s culture. In other words, they help preserve cultural values of the country for thousand years.

3. Ceramic-making Activities

Making-ceramic-Hanoifreelocaltours

Making-ceramic-Hanoifreelocaltours

If you have an intention of visiting Bat Trang village, half day tour is recommend. You’ll have chance of taking a walk on beautiful dams what hardly do you see when you are in your country. In addition, joining buffalo tour is an interesting choice for tourists to enjoy the view.

Located about 10km from Hanoi but Bat Trang village has no difference from other villages in countryside. Fresh air and comfortable feelings are plus marks for it. Taking wonderful photos to share with friends and family is a wonderful idea.

You may buy product in stores as a gift for family. At no time do you have to worry about origin because all of them are produced by potters in Bat Trang village.

Especially, you can be a potter in pottery and porcelain market. It is unbelievable, right? Don’t worry because no one judges your product. For a moment, you feel like being in a time machine to come back your childhood. No judgment, no worry, just fun.  You will definitely have unforgettable time and a unique gift for your friends.

4. Tips tips and tips

 

How to transport: the village is 10km far from Hanoi center so you have many choices to transport. Bus, motorbikes, taxi or even bikes all allow you to arrive.

+) For bus, all you need to do is Google and a good wireless to find bus journey and choose the most convenient bus stop for you. In contrary to what you know about bus, bus in Vietnam may surprise you because of its bit difference. There is no question that bus is cheap but you may get into some troubles such as crowd, wasting much time or language barrier. Many Vietnamese use bus to transport everyday but for foreigners, it seems to be a quite hard. Nevertheless, because of your safety, public transportations are recommended.

5. What you should prepare?

Visiting the village consumes you much energy for interesting activities and on one make sure that you find your favorite food here so preparing your meal is the best choice. You only need to bring some food like a picnic and enjoy it during your tour. Food, drink and fruits enable you to have a good meal. Besides, many stores serve you all the time if you want to try Vietnamese food. Don’t worry about price here on account of all stores are controlled strictly. You can survey price and leave in case you think it’s too high without any annoying from stores owners. Plus, because you just spend half day in the village so there is no need to concerning about hotel or hostel. You can take a rest in any stores if you need.

6. Is there any new experience in Bat Trang?

 

The answer is yes. As you know, buffaloes are the most common animal in Vietnam but in big cities like Hanoi, hardly can you come across a real buffalo. Understanding it, people in the village bring to you amazing experience. Nice buffaloes are your driver. Really? Certainly.Thus, you’ll have chance of discovering Vietnam in a unique way. Each visiting around the village costs you about 150k-200k VND.

On the way, sometimes, you may have feelings that you are in a pottery exhibition. Many pottery and porcelain will come into sight. They are diversified in shape, vintage and form. A useful tip for you is that if you notice, you might find a beautiful and unique thing but taking notice on avoiding faulty goods is recommended. Before buying it, you should bargain with owners. 2/3 of asking price is reasonable price for you. Taking photos with pottery goods allows here as long as you pay attention in order to not break them.

  • Now, after taking note all of these information and tips, are you ready to leave your position to discover the village? Why not booking a tour in Hanoi Free Local Tour to have a nice free tour guide? So exciting!

Thiên Vũ,

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