Saturday, July 18, 2009

DESTINATION VIETNAM 2009: LANGBIANG MOUNTAINS, DALAT

[continued from the Last Post.]














[Destination Vietnam Schedule: 3rd to 10th June 2009]

DESTINATION VIETNAM 2009: LANGBIANG MOUNTAINS, DALAT



The majestic Langbiang Mountains (also known as 'Lam Vien' Mountains by local folks) are located within the Lac Duong District of the Lam Dong Province. They are about 12 km north of the city center of Dalat.

Topographically, the mountains, as part of the southern edge of the Central Highlands of Vietnam, consist of five volcanic peaks, ranging in altitude of 2,000 to 2,400 m.

Of the two imposing peaks, the eastern one is known as K'lang; the western one as K'Biang, giving rise to the folklore origin of what is now known as the Langbiang Legend:

"Once upon a time, there was a love story between K'Lang (a man of the 'Lat' clan) & Hobiang (a woman of the 'Chil' clan).

Their respective houses were located at the foot of the mountains. One day, they had a chanced encounter, while both were picking fruits in the forested areas at the edge of the mountains.

Hobiang & her village friends had encountered a pack of wolves, & K'Lang came timely to the heroic rescue.

From that first encounter, it was love at first sight for both K'Lang & Hobiang.

However, Hobiang could not get married with K'Lang, due to the steadfast vow between the two warring clans.

Ignoring the harsh customs & age-old codes of their warring clans, K'Lang & Hobiang were determined to live together as husband & wife forever. They chose a high peak of the mountains to be their matrimonial settlement.

One day, Hobiang was very sick, & K"Lang tried his best to remedy the situation, but he failed. So, he had to take the risks of informing her clan.

The story continued with Hobiang when she was eventually shot with a poisonous arrow in an vain attempt to protect K'Lang from her village people.

With Hobiang dead in his arms, K'Lang burst into tears: his tears streamed out as a continuous spring, which was also called Dankia (Yellow Spring).

After their unexpected deaths, Hobiang's father felt so remorseful that he decided to unite all the warring factions to be one called K'Ho.

Since then, all the boys & girls of K'Ho can easily make friends with each other.

The mountain spot, which became the final resting place of the original two star-crossed lovers, was thus named Langbiang, in honour of their eternal love for each other."

Well, I must say it's a fascinating story, just to add that compelling element of mystery to the attractive destination.

From a fun standpoint, I have read that the Langbiang Mountains would be an ideal place for mountain climbing, paragliding, trekking or studying of flora as well as rare bird species.

According to the guide in the area during our visit, a 3-4 hour trek up the Langbian Mountains was well worth the time & effort for a spectacular panorama.

For me & the group, we had rather chosen a four-wheel drive up the Langbiang Mountains.

Besides the fresh mountain air & scenic panorama, we also got the opportunity to savour some BBQ wild game meat on the mountain top.











[to be continued in the Next Post, with more photoshots.]
[Destination Vietnam Schedule: 3rd to 10th June 2009]

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"The three things that are essential to achievement are hard work, stick-to-it-ive-ness, & common sense.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

There seems to be no limit to which some men will go to avoid the labor of thinking. Thinking is hard work.

Genius is one per cent inspiration & ninety-nine per cent perspiration.

A genius is a talented person who does his homework. I never did anything worth doing by accident."

~ Thomas Edison;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"To create a new business that makes money, & more significantly, employs others, & more significantly, gives a
product to a customer that improves their life, is our greatest challenge, our greatest opportunity, & the greatest gift, far greater than any charity that we can give our fellow person."

— Paul Zane Pilzer, economist, entrepreneur, & author of 'Unlimited Wealth', among others;

Friday, July 17, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Am I fit for the future?

If not, what can I do about it, &/or what are the remedial steps I can take immediately to improve my strategic fit in the short/medium/long run?

DESTINATION VIETNAM 2009: XQ HISTORY VILLAGE (SU QUAN), DALAT

[continued from the Last Post.]

The following photoshots had captured some of the contemporary artworks on display just outside the front building of the XQ History Village.














The slim-built lady in the yellow-coloured traditional Vietnamese dress, known as "ao dai", as shown in the foregoing photoshot, worked at the XQ History Village as a tour guide.

To me, an 'ao dai' always has this mystique about it, especially when it enrobes a damsel, just like the tight-fitting Chinese cheongsam: it shows very little, & yet it promises a lot!

[to be continued in the Next Post.]
[Destination Vietnam Schedule: 3rd to 10th June 2009]

DESTINATION VIETNAM 2009: XQ HISTORY VILLAGE (SU QUAN), DALAT


I reckon, from a historical as well as a cultural standpoint, the XQ History Village (or Sử Quán), located on Mai Anh Dao Street, in Dalat is really worth visiting.

I had already been to this place once before, & I thought that my friend David & his wife, Jenny, would enjoy it.

[At the time of our visit, we had deliberately dropped off all the kids at Lake Xuan Huong to play with pedal boats, while all the adults got to enjoy a brief relief of about three hours or so. Nonetheless, the kids were invited to join us later for lunch at the village.]

It is called a history village, because it is the place where a traditional Vietnamese way of life is lived & preserved.

The history village has been established for that purpose during the nineties or so by two competent artists or artisans from the ancient city of Hue, Vo Van Quan & Hoang Thi Xuan, hence the name of XQ from their first-name initials.

Today, there is an art center, an embroidery workshop, a sewing workshop, a calligraphy gallery, a history museum, places to listen to classical Vietnamese music, a place to listen to poems & drink green tea with ginger, a porch to sit & relax, a flower garden with bridge, stream, pond, lotus, & koi to gawk at.

More importantly, there is even a 'Gastronomical Centre' inside the village that serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine by waitresses dressed in their traditional Vietnamese dresses, known 'ao dai'. As a matter of fact, visitors are welcome to see for themselves how the numerous dishes are prepared.

I believe that the XQ History Village is trying to register a point. The 'waitresses' at the 'Gastronomical Centre' are actually full-fledged artisans. Besides being adept as skillful embroiders, they are equally proficient at cooking & serving customers.

Wow! I can see that the Gen Y in Vietnam certainly has a great future ahead of them! In 21st century lingo, we call this skill 'multi-tasking'. After all, both tasks obviously call for skilled hands & creative brains.

During our visit, we could smell the soft soothing fragrance of burnt incense in the air.

In reality, we were told by the guide at the village, there was never an actual village in Vietnam that looked like it.

Sprawled over a large wooded area overlooking a lush-green valley, the village is a totally different world from the rest of Dalat's tourist attractions, as it features temple-style houses, showrooms of embroidered paintings, swaying red lanterns, landscaped rock gardens with small ponds, conifered walls adorned with ancient calligraphy, as well as fancy contemporary artworks, just outside the building perimeter.

All around the village, young crafts-women in traditional Vietnamese dress, known as "ao dai", weave intricate portraits or country-side landscapes, as curious tourists look on in amazement.

It is still unknown when embroidery art was actually started in Vietnam, but tribute is often paid to a Le Cong Hanh, who had served as Vietnam's envoy to China during the Ming Dynasty, as the founding father of the craft since the beginning of the 17th century. He had apparently combined both Chinese & Vietnamese embroidery artistry to create an unique technique that has remained in Vietnam since.

During imperial or feudal times, women had played an inferior role in society as dictated by ancestors, & the only way for them to express their ideas & emotions was through the intricate craft of embroidery on curtains, bed clothes & shawls at home.

A crafts-woman must develop perfection over two to five years, & acquire a knowledge of art & sculpture, a passion for embroidery art, a pride of cultural traditions & national heritage, & a tally of vital traits like patience, perseverance & resourcefulness.

A newcomer has first to learn the concept of embroidery art, & then embroider her own pillows & blankets, thus bringing the learned craft into her daily habitual routines.

Just from a cursory glance, it's obvious to me that, embroidering a picture is a painstaking & protracted process that can last a few months or even years, depending on the intricacy or complexity of the design.

At the showroom display, obviously to demonstrate the ingenuity & resourcefulness of the XQ artisans, there were double-sided pictures that looked almost the same on both sides of a cloth.

As I had observed, especially in the case of a double-sided portrait, the realism of the face on one side & the head on the flipside was uncanny.

However, we were told that the most intricate artwork is portrait pictures, which only 10 per cent of the 2,000 XQ artisans could weave.

To create this product, XQ artisans must grasp their innermost feelings, familiarise themselves with the face of the person, & keep the portrait in mind for months. Imagine how difficult it would have been by just choosing the thread & colour combinations to match a person’s face, let alone capture his or her characteristics.

I understand that the XQ History Village is now creating embroidered pictures in assembly mode of production.

A XQ painter first sketch her ideas on a landscape or a portrait with pencil on paper. The sketched sample will then be transferred to another section for tracing the design with a carbon pinpoint. A mixture of colours will then be spreaded over the paper for the design.

Then it is the XQ artisan who decides what to do. Typically, the XQ artisan will choose the appropriate thread, cloth & colour, & then follow her own intincts & imagination.

[Due to commercial interests to protect their proprietary embroidery designs & patterns, photography was unfortunately prohibited in several sections of the XQ History Village.]











[More detailed information about the XQ History Village can be found at this link.]

[to be continued in the Next Post, with more photoshots.]
[Destination Vietnam Schedule: 3rd to 10th June 2009]

DESTINATION VIETNAM 2009: FUN ACTIVITIES AT LAKE XUAN HUONG, DALAT

[continued from the Last Post.]

From these selected photoshots, you can easily tell that the kids were really having a great time with fun activities at Lake Xuan Huong in Dalat.

As a matter of fact, 8-year old Longchai aka 'Dragon Kid' got whacked by my wife twice for being very naughty & disobedient, & yet he still wanted to follow us again on the next outing. [I heard that at home, being the only son, he is always the kingpin.]













[Destination Vietnam Schedule: 3rd to 10th June 2009]