Hành trình khám phá Tây Nguyên 2013.

TỪ 30/5/2013 ĐẾN NGÀY 04/6/2013

Hình ảnh:

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/97412148@N02/sets/

 

Ngày thứ 1: (30/5/2013) TP.Hồ Chí Minh – Vườn Quốc Gia Bù Gia Mập (Bình Phước) – 180KM

??????????????????????????????? Lúc 6 giờ sang, tất cả thành viên tham gia tập trung đầy đủ tại khách sạn Duxton (Nguyễn Huệ) trừ Đoàn Viên sẽ gặp đoàn và chất hành lý cứu trợ tại trường ĐH KHXH-NV (Đinh Tiên Hoàng), Phước Huy sẽ nhập đoàn tại ngã tư Bình Phước. Đoàn khởi hành lúc 6:30 dưới cơ mưa lất phất báo hiệu một chuyến đi không dễ dàng gì, thật đúng, những ngày tiếp theo là những cơn mưa rừng như trút nước từ khoảng 3g đến 6g chiều những ngày còn lại của chuyến hành trình Tây Nguyên.

Sau khi Phước Huy gia nhập đoàn, Tổng công có tất cà là 10 thành viên là Tâm, Viên, Hằng, Lợi, Huy, Đức Hồ, Đức Thái, Việt, Khải  và anh Phi (thợ máy), đoàn gồm 7 xe, sau khi ăn sang, chúng tôi trực chỉ QL 13, tới ngã 3 Sở Sao chúng tôi rẻ phải, tiếp tục 50Km, chúng tôi đến TX Đồng Xoài, ghé uống nước mía tại rừng cao su Phú Riếng, hành trình tiếp tục 40Km để đến TX Phước Long, rất nổi tiếng trong thời kỳ chiến tranh chống Mỹ, được gọi là tiểu khu Phước Long với những Sư Đoàn mạnh của Mỹ và VNCH trấn giữ Đường mòn HCM. Đoàn ghé ăn cơm tấm (25,000VND đồng/dĩa) rất ngon. Huy ghé thăm bà con và hẹn sẽ gặp đoàn tại vường QG Bù Gia Mập, kết quả là Huy là người duy nhất trong đoàn bị lạc, tới VQG khoảng 6h tối J. Chúng tôi quyết định không tham quan Thác Mơ vì người địa phương nói là không có nước, và cũng không tham quan sóc Bom Bo vì ngược đường đến 40Km. Chúng tôi đi ngang qua khu du lịch Bà Rá, nhưng không vào vì cáp treo chắc cũng không có gì thú vị. Chúng tôi bị lạc đường một chút xíu khi qua khỏi Bà Rá, hỏi người địa phương đường vẻ huyện Dak Ơ, chạy them 60Km thì hết đường và cũng là cổng vào vườn QG Bù Gia Mập, ngay đây có sân bay dã chiến Bù Gia Mập nay là rừng cao su, đây cũng là điểm cuối của đường ống dẫn dầu dài trên 4000Km, dung để vận chuyển xăng dầu từ Bắc vào Nam, không biết bao nhiêu người đã ngã xuống để xây dựng và bảo vê đường ống này vì nó cũng là mục tiêu bị đánh phá dữ dội nhất trong suốt thời kỳ chiến tranh.

Khoảng 3g, chúng tôi đã có thể nhận phòng, phòng 4 người, có máy lạnh và TV nhưng đều không hoạt động, tuy nhiên phòng sạch sẽ và an toàn là điều chúng tôi cần nhất. 4g chiều là buổi thi đấu bong chuyền giao luu giữ HD TIC và Kiểm lâm Bù Gia Mập, kết quả là chúng tôi thua 3 séc trắng, phãi đãi các bạn BGM một thùng nước chanh giá 50,000đ, nhưng cuối cùng các bạn không lấy, may quá!!!Rừng tiếp đón chúng tôi buổi chiều đầu tiên là một cơn mưa như trút nước từ 6g đến 8g, đện bị cúp, chúng tôi ăn tối dưới ánh đèn cầy bập bùng không nhìn rõ món ăn, khoảng 7:30 thì có điện trở lại, chúng tôi ăn tối với món rau thục (vị rất lạ của rau rừng và cà tím), cá lăng kho, thịt kho và trứng chiên, đồ ăn dư vì Tâm và anh Phi ăn tối ở nhà bà con. Sau khi ăn tối, chúng tôi uống rượu cần và vịt quay kiểu dân tộc Tày, nước chấm có vị mắm nên đa số ngại không ăn, chỉ có Tâm ăn nhiều nên tối phải ngủ trong toilet suốt đêm. Chúng tôi có một giấc ngủ ngon trong trạm kiểm lâm bìa rừng Bù Gia Mập trừ Tâm và Hằng bị đau bụng!

Ngày thứ 2 (31/05/2013) Bù Gia Mập(Bình Phước) – DakMil(Dak Nông) – 185KM

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????Buổi sáng cạnh rừng rất đẹp, những cơn gió thoảng nhẹ, ắn ấm nhảy múa trên các lá cây, tiếng vượn hú từ xa báo hiệu một ngày mới với nhiều điều thú vị. Chúng tôi ăn sáng phở bò ở chợ xã Bù Gia Mập. Khải và Huy vào trước không hỏi giá nên chúng tôi bị “chém” 30,000đ/ 1 tô, người địa phương chỉ trả có 20,000đ, cũng hơi bực bội J. Anh Giang (HD đoàn) đi trong vườn QG BGM, đi chợ chuận bị bữa ăn trưa trong rừng, anh đã chúng tôi món rất lạ “Thịt nướng ống bô”. Nghĩa là thịt heo ba rọi, ướp gia vị, cuốn trong giấy kiếng, dung dây chì buộc xung quanh bô xe gắn máy, thịt sẽ chin cho đoạn đường 48Km từ của rừng tới giếng Trời, xe của người dân địa phương ở đây có dây xích quấn xung quan bánh xe để đi đường rừng, đa số là xe minsk hoặc Yamaha. Chúng tôi bắt đâu cuộc hành trình vào rừng QG, khoảng vài cây số đất đỏ, chúng tôi đến trạm kiểm lâm số 1, cũng là nơi có bia tưởng niệm đường ống dẫn dầu Bắc-Nam. Nơi đây nuôi rất nhiều heo dân tộc (heo mọi), heo mẹ dẫn cả đàn lúc nhúc hàng chục chú heo con rất dể thương, muốn bắt một con về nuôi mà không biết làm cách nào! Vì tối qua mưa to, nên anh Giang (HD) quyết định chọn đường tuần tra, là đường bê tong rộng khoảng 1,2m, chúng tôi bắt đầu hành trình băng ngang khu rừng rộng hơn 21,000hecta (Vietnam) và 30,000 hecta phía Cambodia. Đây là rừng họ dầu với nhiêu cây to hàng trăm năm tuổi, HD chỉ chúng tôi cây Ko nia, biểu tượng của Tây Nguyên, hoa rừng rụng trắng trên đường chúng tôi đi, chẳng mấy chốc thì chúng tôi đến trạm biên phòng số 1 (tổng cộng chúng tôi phải đi quá 8 trạm kiểm lâm và 5 đồn biên phòng), anh HD cùng Ms Viên lên khai báo, vì là nữ, nên Viên rất được các anh BP ưu ái và kiểm tra nhanh rồi cho đi J. Càng vào sâu trong rừng, không khí càng mát lạnh, chúng tôi, con đường ngoằn ngòe như rắn bò với những con dốc 45-50 độ, xe chúng tôi phải trả về số 1 và 2 mới từ từ bò lên được, Tâm và anh Phi bị ngã xe vì hành lý cồng kềnh, và nước uống nên không bẻ hết tay lái được, cả đoàn quay lại giúp và sang bớt hành lý từ xe của Tam sang cho Huy. Hành trình tiếp tục chúng tôi đến trạm kiểm lâm số 2, lần này không dể dàng như trạm trước, Đại Úy trưởng đồn đích thân xuống kiểm tra danh sách và CMND của chúng tôi, chúng tôi phải khai báo hành lý mang theo, chúng tôi tranh thủ chụp hình với chú bộ đội biên phòng quê Thanh Hóa đi nghĩa vụ được 16 tháng. Hành trình tiếp tục qua những cây cầu sắt làm từ thời chiến tranh, anh HD nói đi sâu vào rừng còn rất nhiều vũ khí, đạn dược sót lại sau chiến tranh. Khoảng 11g, chúng tôi đến trạm kiểm lâm số 7, nơi chúng tôi gởi lại hành lý và đi bộ vào rừng để đến giếng trời, cơn mưa lớn tối qua làm cho rừng dịu lại với nhiều lớp lá khô dưới chân, chúng tôi chậm rãi đi vào khu rừng, rất nhiều cây bằng lăng, giáng hương và nhiều loại rau rừng, anh HD chỉ cho chúng tôi rau thục chúng tôi ăn tối qua, chúng tôi cũng hái thêm một số rau rừng để ăn buổi trưa, khoảng 20 phút thì đến mốt con suối tên la Dak Bơ, đi ngược dòng suối khoảng 20 phút thì tới giếng Trời, tại giếng trời, lòng suối mở rộng bằng diện tích một cái hồ bơi, có những vách đá cao, nước chảy ào ào trắng xóa, phong cảnh thật là hùng vĩ. Chúng tôi quyết định cắm trại ở đây, tìm của rừng anh HD nướng lại thịt cho chắc ăn! Còn chúng tôi thì nhảy  ùm xuống suối, nước mát lạnh trút đi hết những vất vả mà chúng tôi đã trải qua để đến được đây. Đang tắm, bổng có tiếng hét thất thanh, “Đỉa cắn tôi rồi” thì ra là Khải đã bị đỉa cắn gần rốn, máu chảy đầm đỉa, cả đoàn sợ quá, lên hết không ai dám tắm nữa, sau khi cầm máu và băng vết thương cho Khải chúng tôi lại nhảy xuống tắm nhưng không dám tắm ở nước yên mà chọn chổ nước chảy mạnh, mọi người chơi trượt nước và massage nước rất vui, H.Dức bị tuột mất quần nên mọi người đi xuôi theo dòng suối một chút mới tìm được quấn trôi về phí cuối nguồn. Sau khi tắm mát chúng tôi tập trung ăn trưa, những ống cơm lam (cơm nấu trong ống lồ ô) được cắt ra, ăn với thịt nướng và rau rừng thơm phức, chai rượu của Nghĩa tặng được mang ra khui, vài vòng đã hết phân nữa, cơn mưa rừng ập đến, chúng tôi vẫn tiếp tục ăn dưới mưa. Sau khi ăn xong, chúng tôi ra khỏi khu rừng bằng đường rừng có rất nhiều vắt, vắt giống như con sâu đo, di chuyển bằng cách uốn mình búng lên cao, gặp người hay thú rừng thì bám vào và hút máu. Hành trình phía trước còn dài, chạy them vài kilomet nữa chúng tôi đến đồn BP cuối cùng nhưng thuộc Dak Nông, anh HD nói sẽ khó khăn hơn. Đồn BP này thật đẹp, giống như một resort với những rừng thông vi vu cao vút, anh lính gác là một người dân tộc, các anh chỉ huy nhiệt tình chỉ đường cho chúng tôi đi Dak Mil theo ngã Quảng Trực và còn cho chúng tôi một trái mít thật thơm và thật to, nhưng hành lý cồng kềnh nên cuối cùng chúng tôi phải cho một gia đình dân tộc cùng món quà quyên góp của HD Indo bao gồm một chăn, một màn, một áo mưa. Hành trình lại tiếp tục them vài km đường nhựa, trời bắt đầu đổ mưa thì chúng tôi ra tới đường đất đỏ trơn trượt, ghé vào đổ xăng tại thị trấn Quảng Trực, Tâm bị Tào tháo rượt, cả đoàn phải dừng lại chờ Tâm giải quyết, đường rất xấu, nhiều lần xe trượt bánh suýt ngã, chúng tôi đến ngả 3 cây số 55 là ranh giới VN và Cambodia. Đường bắt đầu tốt hơn nhưng mưa cũng nặng hạt hơn, có lúc không thấy cả đường để chạy. Khoảng  5g chiều chúng tôi ra đến QL 14B và đến Dak Mil khoảng 6 giờ tối. Nhận phòng tại khách sạn Hoàng Diệp giá 300K cho 4 người, Khach san 2 sao tương đối tốt giúp cho mọi người có một giấc ngủ ngon cho hành trình ngày mai. Sau khi tắm rửa, chúng tôi đi bộ vài chục mét đến nhà hàng Cường (khách sạn rẽ phải) toàn các món thú rừng nhưng không được gọi là thit rừng, đói bụng quá ăn luôn chứ cũng chẳng phải thích ăn thịt rừng , 10 người mất khoảng 1,3 triêu bao gồm luôn bia, giá cũng OK. Buổi tối các tay tiếp tục sát phạt tiến lên đến khuyu.

Ngày thứ 3: (01/06/2013) Dak Mil (Dak Nông)- Ban Ma Thuột (Dak Lak)-Buôn Đôn – 200KM

Chúng tôi quyết định không dậy sớm, ăn sáng, uống cafe tà tà tới 9g mới lên đường vì biết chắc là một ngày thảnh thơi, thật sự thì không phải như vậy!

Chạy khoảng 40Km chúng tôi rẽ vào thác Dray Nu, Tâm là người dẫn đường vì rành tour TRV. Đường vào tương đối đẹp và dể đi, Thác Dray Nu thuộc tư nhân (cafe Trung  Nguyên) nên cũng tương đối sạch sẽ, sau khi đấu tranh với quản lý HD có thẻ thì không phải mua vé, chúng tôi đã thành công, vé bao gồm một ly cafe miễn phí, chụp hình đi bộ vào thác,đầu mùa mưa, thác cũng chưa có nhiều nước lắm. Mãi chụp hình mãi chơi, cũng đến giờ ăn trưa, trong khi chờ đợi chúng tôi chơi banh bàn rất vui, mọi người ai cũng đói nên ăn ngon, cafe miễn phí rất ngon. Sau khi ăn trưa, chúng tôi quyết định không quay ra bằng đường cũ mà sẽ đi tắt qua Buôn Jun rồi đến hồ Lak, nhưng đây là quyết định sai lầm vì đường đi toàn là đá và đá rất to, rất may không ai bị bể vỏ, hết đường xấu thì ra tới đường nhựa có ngã 3 về BMT 7Km nhưng lại không đi mà chạy tiếp, thật ra hồ Lak là một hồ lớn nên chúng tôi không thể tiếp cận từ QL 14 mà phải ra TT Liên Sơn QL 27 khoảng 40Km, nen quyết định không tiếp tục đi hồ Lak mà đi theo TL 10 để ra QL 27. TL 10 mới mở rất đẹp và đèo dốc, khoảng 4g chúng tôi ra đến QL 27 và rẽ trái đi BMT. Đến BMT chạy ngang qua khách sạn Dakruco và ghé thăm Bảo tang cafe Trung Nguyên. Khuôn vien rộng với các nhà trưng bày giới thiệu sản phẩm cafe, nhà hàng và quầy bar đều được làm bằng gổ theo kiến trúc nhà Huế. Một số anh/em tham quan bảo tang cafe, còn một số thì không. Sau khi thưởng thức sinh tố trái cây trong bảo tang cafe J anh em tiếp tục đi bản Đôn còn 49 Km, ai cũng ngán vì trời mưa rất to và mây kéo đen kịt, Phước Huy đại diện anh em yêu cầu ngủ ở Plei Ku nhưng TL kiên quyết từ chối vì không muốn đi QL 14 lên Plei Ku mà muốn đi đường rừng từ Buôn Đôn xuống, quyết định này đã dẫn đến mạo hiểm cho cả đoàn, đường rừng Yokdon rất đẹp nhưng cũng suýt nữa phải ngủ trong rừng J. Đoạn đường đi Buôn Đôn tương đối đẹp với nhựng đoạn dốc nhưng chác không ai thường thức nữa vì quá mệt. Chúng tôi đến buôn Đôn trong cơn mưa tầm tã và mệt rã rời! Ai cũng muốn có một chổ nghỉ và tắm rửa. Bản Đôn đã bị du lịch hóa nhiều với nhiều cửa tiệm bằng gạch ngói, nhưng chúng tôi không ai quan tắm lắm vì quá mệt. Sau khi nhận phòng, cả nhóm cùng nghỉ trong một nhà dài đối diện văn phòng du lịch Buôn Đôn giá 50K/người, giá hơi bèo nhưng dịch vụ cũng rất bèo, phòng tắm và nhà vệ sinh thật dơ và xa chổ nghỉ, sau khi tắm rửa, ăn tối, giá du lịch 135K/người, thực đơn cũng khá phong phú, ngon nhất là món gà nướng ăn với cơm lam (cơm ngon hơn nhiều so với Bù Gia Mập J). Sau khi ăn cơm, phe “tiến lên” tiếp tục sát phạt nhau còn trưởng đoàn thì bận rôn với hành trình ngày mai đi Kon Tum, đây là hành trình dài nhất và gian khổ nhất vì quyết định tránh QL 14 và không quay về BMT. Trên bản đồ, chúng tôi thấy con đường nào tỉnh lộ 1 nhưng không biết tình trạng đường thế nào, kết hợp với thông tin địa phương chúng tôi quyết định liều thử một phen. Để trấn an tinh thần của các thành vien, H.Đức quyết định bỏ phiếu và lấy đa số, option 1: quay về BMT và kết thúc hành trình ở Tuy Hòa. Option 2: là thử may rủi tủa tỉnh lộ 1. Cuối cùng đa số chọn option 2! Hoan hô tinh thần kiên cường của các chiến sĩ TIC. Cả nhóm có một buổi tối ngon giấc cho hành trình sáng sớm ngày mai từ 6g sáng.

Ngày thứ 4: (02/06/2013) Buôn Đôn-Gia Lai-Kon Tum (210 Km)

Sáng sớm, chúng tôi ra ăn sáng ở chợ Buôn Đôn, phở rất ngon giá 25K, sau khi đổ xăng, chúng tôi ghé chụp hình mộ Vua voi Amakong, ghé ngang nhà cổ và theo tỉnh lộ 1 xuôi lên Gia Lai, đường đi rất đẹp, đến thị trấn Ea Súp, dự định chạy them 19 km thì tới buôn Tha và thăm tháp Chàm Yang Prong, nhưng đoạn đường xấu quá, đất đỏ và nhiều ổ Voi làm chúng tôi chạy huốt qua buôn Tha, càng chạy càng đi sâu vào rừng không có ngưới,qua khỏi ngã 3 quà làng Thanh niên lập nghiệp biên giới , chúng tôi đi them khoảng chục cây số thì tắt đường vì con suối Ea’H Leo, quyết định không quay về đường cũ mà chạy lên QL 14B đang làm dở, chúng tôi lại tiếp tục con đường đau khổ đá sỏi, bụi tung mù mịt, còn khoảng 60Km thì ra QL 19 và khoảng 120 km đến Plie Ku,  Chí Đức phát hiện một con đường tắt cây số để 40Km tới Plie Ku. Tuy nhiên còn lường lự vì không biết tình trạng đường thế nào nhưng cũng quyết định thử vì cả đoàn ai cũng đều sắp hết xăng mà không có nhà dân. Khoảng 20km đường xấu, chúng tôi đã thấy ánh sáng đưới đường hầm khi gặp đường tráng nhựa và nhà dân 2 bên, ghé đổ tạm ít xăng, chúng tôi tiếp tục hành trình, đoạn đường thật đẹp với nhiều nhà người dân tộc 2 bên, hàng rào làm bằng những khúc gỗ khô, gần tối Plie Ku là những cánh đồng trà trải dài ngút mắt, chúng tôi đã gần tới thủ phủ của trà và cafe cùng Tây Nguyên. Đến thành phố Plei Ku, chúng tôi thở phào nhẹ nhõm, Tâm dẫn đường chúng tôi ghé ngang ăn gà Mỹ Tâm do Tâm giới thiệu, rất ngon, tuy nhiên khi đói thì mới biết một vài anh/em rất xấu tính khi đói, chẳng hạn như Việt, khi nhà hàng đem cơm ra thì chọn ngay dĩa có miếng thịt gà to nhất cho mình (gần nữa con gà), còn những ai chậm tay như mình thì miếng gà là một cái cánh nhỏ xíu! Thật là buồn vì mình vừa già, vừa chậm lại phải nhai xương. Sau khi ăn trưa, trời đổ mưa xối xả, nhóm vẫn tiếp tục lên đường, phải chờ Khải ½ tiếng vì bị xì lốp xe, đoàn quyết định ghé Biển Hồ vì một lần đi là một lần khó, một số anh/em không muốn đi, nói là Biển Hồ chỉ bằng cái ao cá tra ở nhà L (Phước Huy), nhưng Biển Hồ thật đẹp mặc dù mưa rất to, không nhìn rõ nhưng cảm nhận được sự hung vĩ và mênh mong của nó trong ngày nắng đẹp, chắc chắn mình sẽ phải đến đây một lần nữa. Theo QL 14, thẳng tiến lên Kontum, vừa ra khỏi thành phố thì xe Tâm bị xì lốp. Không có tiệm vá xe phải tạt vào nhà dân tự xử, không may, gia đình đang có chuyện xích mích, chồng đánh vợ, cố gắng sửa xong xe để vọt cho nhanh J. QL 14 thật tệ, cuối cùng chúng tôi cũng đến TP Kon Tum khoảng 5:00PM. Chúng tôi hoàn toàn hài long vì khách sạn Indochina offer cho phòng kèm ăn sáng với special discount chỉ 200K/phòng. Thật là thoải mái sau một ngày vất vả, tắm táp sạch sẽ, Tâm dẫn đi ăn lẫu bò, xong đi hát Karaoke zig zag chi có 100K phòng VIP sau khi hứa sạo là sẽ dẫn khách tới hát J,  Duc Ho ấn tượng vừa ngủ mà vẫn biết khi đến bài hát của mình, kết quả là ngủ lăn lóc khi về đến khách sạn.

Ngày thứ 5: (03/06/2013) Kon Tum – Quãng Ngãi.

Sauk hi ăn sáng tại khách sạn, chúng tôi tham quan vài điểm, nhà thờ Gỗ và tặng nốt quà còn lại cho cô nhi viện ở đây. Chúng tôi đến cầu treo KonKlor của Plei Ku, Tòa Giám Mục chỉ đủ thời gian ghé ngang qua và khởi hành đi Quãng Ngãi ngay, không may, đang bon bon thẳng tiếng thì bị CA thổi vào, Lợi và Việt bị dính vì cả hai đi xe tay ga, quá tốc độ 40/45 km/giờ, Việt hối lộ 500K mà CA không chịu, bắt phải đóng phạt, đến đóng phạt thì GĐ đi toilet rồi đi BV, cuối cùng nhờ CA đóng hộ 300K/2 xe, làm mất khoảng 1gio. Theo QL 17 chúng tôi bắt đầu thả dốc cho đoạn đường đẹp nhất trong cuộc hành trành, đường đèo quanh co, hẹp, ít xe, nhiều lúc có cảm giác như là những tay đua thể thức 1 thực sự, hết trái lại phải, lắm lúc cua gắt quá phải qua hết lề trái, cần phải sử dụng kèn lien tục ở các đoạn cua, QL 21 đi qua các Dak Rve, KonPlong, giữa hai huyện này là đèo Măng Đen có độ cao 1.500m làm chúng tôi phải lên dốc muốn hụt hơi, hết lên rồi lại xuống dốc. Măng Đen thật đẹp và đúng là Đà Lạt 2 với thông reo vi vu, khí hậu mát lạnh, nhìn những biệt thự xây dang dở sao mà thấy buồn cho DL Việt Nam. Hết đèo Măng Đen thì đến đèo Violac, cũng rất đẹp, chúng tôi hoàn toàn hài long với ngày hôm nay mặc dù gặp không ít xui xẻo, hết đèo thì đến thị trấn Ba Tơ, Tâm và anh Phi lại bị té xe lần nữa, lần này thì nặng hơn, tróc da hết cả đùi trái, cô y tá Đoàn Viên trổ tài, cũng mất 30phut thì mới tiếp tục, đến ngả 3 đi đường tắt từ Ba Tơ về QN thì vỏ xe của Việt phù to vì nắng nong, phải dừng lại để xịt nước vì xì hơi. Đến đây thì cả đoàn quá mệt mỏi và không thể kịp thời gian để bắt kịp xe về tpho HCM nên quyết định ngủ lại 1 đêm QN. Việt mừng quá vì có cơ hội đón đoàn khách VIP về nhà mình. Lúc này không còn gì gấp gáp, nên thong thả uống nước mía tán dóc vì chỉ còn khoảng 30Km về QN. Làng quê miền Trung thanh bình hiện ra trong suốt quãng đường còn lại. Chúng tôi cuối cùng đến nhà Việt, Ba Mẹ Việt đón tiếp chúng tôi rất niềm nở, 3 đứa cháu Việt rất dể thương chỉ nhớ tên 3, bé nạc và bé mỡ, Đoàn Viên và Hằng tổ chức trò chơi, chơi với hai bé suốt. Bữa cơm chiều thật ngon với nhiều món nhưng không nhớ hết tên J. Buổi tối đánh bài rồi đi ngủ sớm.

Ngày cuối: (04/06/2013) Quãng Ngãi – TP.Ho Chi Minh.

Buổi sáng QN khí hậu thật nhẹ và trong lành, chúng tôi đi ăn bún bò rất ngon chỉ 15K/tô gần nhà Việt. Sau khi uống cafe, chúng tôi đi Sơn Mỹ (Mỹ Lai) và xuống tắm biển Trà Khúc, biển thật đẹp, bãi lài và nước thật trong, tắm hoài không muốn lên, các bạn ăn ốc, uống bia, that thoải mái, nhưng cũng phải kết thúc ở đây, về nhà Việt soạn đồ, ăn trưa, Việt và Tâm mất hai cái quần lót J. Ra bến xe, chúng tôi đi xe Chính Nghĩa, 370K cho người và 350K cho xe máy, xe máy được đưa vào gầm sau khí tháo bánh trước và xì bánh sau. Khoảng 10g ngày hôm sau chúng tôi về đến TP. HCM kết thúc hành trình một cách tốt đẹp.

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DRAGON BOY

It is illegal to use IVF (In Vitro Fertilization: thu tinh trong ong nghiem)  for gender selection in Vietnam so many couple chose a hospital in Thailand. They paid $20,000, spent the whole of  month in hospital. The year of dragon 2012 is a very lucky year, it only comes around every 60 years.

 

Many believe that men born under the golden dragon will be wealthier, have better jobs and be more successful. “It strongly influences people’s lives”.

 

For people who work for the state and under Vietnam’s strict two-child policy they could risk losing their job.

 

The desire for sons is so strong in Vietnam that the gender birth ratio now stands at 111 boys to 100 girls, according to the ministry of health, well above the internationally accepted norm of around 104. If the problem persists, the ministry has warned that up to 3 million Vietnamese men might be unable to marry by 2030.

 

The Vietnamese government is taking the problem seriously. Doctors are forbidden from revealing the sex of a fetus and websites or brochures advertising sex selection services are banned.

 

Traditionally, a son is expected to look after his parents in their old age and for this reason it is the norm for a man to inherit the lion’s share. In nearly every Vietnamese house there is a shrine dedicated to the family line, but it is the job of sons, not daughters, to worship there. When a woman marries it is assumed she will worship her husband’s family because according to custom the spirits of her own ancestors cannot enter the house at the same time as those of her husband.

Do Thi Thu Hang

07 September 2012

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Jade Emperor Pagoda 73 Mai Thi Luu, district 01, HCM city

Jade Emperor Pagoda, also known as “Chua Ngoc Hoang or Phuoc Hai Tu”, the pagoda is covering an area of 2.300m2. It was named by a man called Luu Ming because where people worships God of Heaven. The temple was built in 1892. Architecture completely follows Chinese style such as exquisite woodcarvings decorated with guild Chinese characters, the Yin and Yang roof tiles with colorful colors. Built in 1892 and spent 16 years for construction, finally it was inaugurated in 1908 and called Jade Emperor palace. As local said, Mr Luu Minh (Cantonese) built the pagoda with a good wish for his business doing well.  In 1982 the temple was taken over by Buddhism Association and Thich Vinh Khuong was the first monk since it has belonged to the Buddhist of Vietnam, in the minds of the Vietnamese the temple was impressively for diverse worship of sacred deities, God of Heaven, Buddha, God of money, God of hell, 12 holy Mother s of birth and children…etc

Jade Emperor Pagoda has a total of over 300 statues which are placed among the three worshiping halls and each hall is the best master piece of architecture reflecting the connection of earth and heaven world. The front hall is also a largest space from the main gate, the middle hall is smaller from the main door, and both sides are positioning of Earth God on the left and Door God on the right (Mon Quan). In the middle hall, there is very important and exclusive statue of The Buddha of healing and Medicine in Mahayana Buddhism. Connecting with the main hall is many huge states of Natural Ministers of four directions (North, East, South and West). Most of huge statues are made of reinforced paper and no wonder of its age of more than 200 years! Jade Emperor Pagoda is second to none of Taoist worships and strongly believes in natural power.

In the middle of the main hall is positioning of the Jade Emperor or God of Heaven which is rarely seen in any other temple in Vietnam. Visitor can also him sitting high and supreme position surrounding by warriors of heaven, hand is holding the supreme order and looking down with powerful  eyes but in dept of benevolence and understanding for human world.

On the right side is worshiping Buddha of Mercy and on the left side is dedicating to Tran Vo Bac (King defending the North), describes him in sitting position and one leg stepping on snake and other leg putting on turtle. In Taoism, Northern King controls devils and natural disaster.

 

 

Moving into the left hand corridor, visitor will be surprised by Government of the Hell where God of Hell is sitting and he is very impressive who shows supremely as God of Heaven. In hand of Hell God is a book of death, it describes another world after life by vivid, impressive way but very normal cycle of life, not aim to scare anyone looking at it. God of Hell is also surrounding by his administrative ministers. Remarkably you can see solders in horse and buffalo head who taking and guiding a death soil into Hell for justice.

A small alter underneath you can see a small guy in white cloth. He’s God of money and appears popularly in any Chinese temple in China town.  Why he dresses in white? It is said that he used to be a very smart and great student in his time. However, He wasn’t a good son at all and treated his mother mercilessly. After his mother death, he felt really guilty and try to study harder and became a very good and useful person.  Finally, he promoted to a God of Money and looking after Heaven Treasury. Every year, Chinese and Vietnamese borrow lucky money from him in small red envelope and returns a lot as contribution if their business running well! Maybe the old people wants to remind you that, if you are running after money too much, one day, you will be losing your most beloved person such as Mother, relative or friend!

Moving further out visitor can see a beautiful exquisite wood carvings describe 12 gates of hell where sin committed people are punished accordingly as what mistake they made in their living time. These 12 gates are very popular mentioned in Buddhism doctrine and describing in Buddhist temple on painting but is solely seen in wood carving in Jade Emperor Pagoda. The end of the room is another beautiful wood carving of Buddha of Mercy. Apparently, aside from Taoism, Buddhism is another very important belief of worshiper.

Through the narrow door, visitor will be caught by the colorful statues of 12 Mothers of birth and children. A bit different to Vietnamese custom, Chinese doesn’t made first month ceremony (Day Thang) for a new born baby but they comes and spray to 12 holy mothers represent 12 months after birth. When the child up to 1 year, a very big ceremony will be made and great offerings to 12 mothers who are looking after each month since the baby is born. Many young couple also comes here to pray for child if they are difficult to become father and mother.

In conclusion, Jade emperor pagoda is not similar to any Buddhist or Taoist pagoda in the city because it is great combination of both Taoism and Buddhism. It’s not very old pagoda in comparison to Giac Lam Pagoda but everything have been in well maintenance in nearly 120 years. There are many valuable objects inside of Pagoda such as paper made statues, fragrant wood made Buddha of medicine and wood carving displays in hell section. Today, Pagoda has a main festival on 9th of January (lunar calendar), dedicated to God of heaven, a lot of locals come and worship in this day.

Hong Duc

Ben Tre, 14th Aug 2012

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Vietnamese Wedding

General introduction to Vietnamese wedding.

Traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnamese Culture which are wedding, funeral, birth anniversary and lunar New year called “Tet” which influences from Confucianism and Buddhism. Today topic will present to you about Vietnamese wedding from the old to present time, and of course, like anywhere else in the world, some traditions have been gone but some are remained. At least, wedding ceremony in Vietnam reveals some features of “Viet” spiritual life.

In the past, most of marriages were arranged by parents or extended family while children sometimes were consulted, it was nearly parents final decision and in many case, a two families, bride and groom got to know each other from a matchmaker. it was not unusual for the bride and groom to meet for the first time at the day of their engagement. Therefore, the newlyweds was matched with each other in term of social class, education, conducts and morality. The Confucianism made the male position is much higher than female and more likely the decision was made by the groom’s parents in the old day.

Luckily for female what occurred during our parents and grand parents have seem vanished. Today, man and woman marry based on love better than marriage. The decision is made by both families. Another obvious difference is average age of couple. In the past, a groom of 20 with an 18 year old bride would be considered as an ideal couple. Today, education and the need to pursue a career have raised their age up to late 20s and early 30s for city dweller, working class couples and in country side tend to marry earlier.

Beliefs

Some young people seek for the services from fortune teller or astrologer in advance to consult their future will be successful and happy. They also well plan in advance for the good day of their wedding or even a good year to have first child. In case the result was negative, they might face up with a lot of barriers or prohibitions from parents or relatives. Although the young couple was not truly believe in  astrology but they don’t want to face up with such difficulties, therefore, they need to learn or consult carefully about their fiance’s horoscope which was not too bad to live together in life.

Decision maker of the wedding

It’s very interesting to know about the different points of Vietnamese youth and western youth on decision making for the most important turn point of their life – wedding! On the contrary to the west, Vietnamese youth still very much relies on parents whilst making this important decision. With the strong flow of Confucianism and ancestor worship in their body, young Vietnamese promises a lot with their partner when they are in love but when it comes to final decision, they would rather turn on their parents who they respect and trust or even afraid to go against their parent’s opinion. Most of parents give automatic right to involve very much about this issue because they thought their children are too young to decide it. Some parents are tolerance but some aren’t, they are ready to criticize or even  prohibited their children from doing what they wish. Today, the groom should advice the bride carefully at the first meeting with the groom family and must know how to win heart and soul of parent in law. On the other hand, with rich experience in life, many parents gave valuable advices to children and they can avoid the break-up in the relationship as often seen in the western country.

Preparation for the wedding:

Preparations for the traditional Vietnamese wedding first begins by choosing a date and time for the marriage ceremony. This is decided by a Buddhist monk, Spiritual leader, or fortune teller. In the most case, book of astrology will be used for consultation which is based on birthday and couple horoscopes.  This tradition does not change even if the family is Catholic.

The wedding consists of an extensive set of ceremonies: asking permission to receive the bride, receiving the bride at her house, and bringing the bride to the groom’s house. The western style wedding is popular now in the city but requirement of above ceremonies must be followed and respected. Today, we have seen bride and groom are standing in front of hotel or at reception, it is just a official reception and only traditional ceremonies have been performed at home or in church (for Catholic) already. Therefore, the wedding reception usually is not counted as traditional step of wedding ceremony and it is organized at any convenient day (usually Saturday and Sunday) and doesn’t affect on married life alter as belief.

1. Asking permission to receive the bride (Lễ hỏi)

Before the wedding day, the groom’s family would make a trip to the bride’s home with a gift of betel nut, wine and cake to officially ask permission to marry the bride. At this time, the bride’s family would confirm the wedding and further arrangements would take place. Both families will take this opportunity to discuss and decide final judgment of date, time of bringing the bride to the groom house, number of delegation of both families to join in the wedding party, mean of transportation. It’s also a time bride and groom family get to know more about financial issue of the wedding so they could help other side accordingly. There’s no spiritual worships during this event. Bride family may invite groom family for a lunch or dinner if they want to. There’s no fixed period of time after this step before the wedding, however, they would not let it longer than 6 months before the wedding day. After this event, the groom is officially consider as a ‘future bride” and not allow to know other boy because “face of her parents”. The bride should limit and be careful in relationship with different sex in order to avoid any negative comment of villager or friend who knows groom’s family.

2. Bringing the bride to the groom’s house (rước dâu).

This good day and time should be chosen for this most important ceremony. The day of the groom brings the bride to his house.

The groom with his delegation about 20 to 30 people will come to a bride family with gifts of betel nuts, jewelry, wine, cake and all in well dress. Groom’s parent and close relative are preceded and odd number of young men in smartly dressed with white shirt and tie. They carry 7 or 9 lacquer trays are covered in red cloth. It depends on distance between two families so they can walk, travel by car or by boat in Mekong delta. Red color is represented for good luck and rosy future of newly couple. it appears dominantly at this ceremony.

Upon arrival, the young men dismount and wait for permission from the bride family. An old man, usually a uncle of the groom would come into a bride’s house asking for permission. Same number of young women dress in long dress (ao dài) are standing in row on both sides to receive trays (wedding gifts). It is interesting that young women (friends of bride) gives her male counterpart a small money in return after receiving gift to indicate that they are “working” as a paid helper and not affect on their married life in future.

The groom carrying a tray with a small bottle of wine walking behind his parents and uncle acts MC (man of ceremony). After diplomatic ceremony, The groom will invite the bride’s parents to take a sip of wine. By accepting the toast, the bride’s parents symbolically agree to admit the groom’s party. The groom’s family introduce themselves and ask permission for their son to marry the bride. A maser of ceremony (usually respective person chosen from the bride family) instructs the bride’s parent to present their daughter. The bride then enters in traditional long dress.

The wedding ceremony begins in front of the ancestor altar. The bride and groom bows down and prays, asks their ancestors to come back, witness and bless for their new life. Couple then turns around and bows to bride parents to thank them for raising and educating the bride since birth. Then they bow their head toward each other to show their gratitude and respects to to-be husband and wife. The groom and bride then exchanges wedding rings and parents give newly couple gold bracelets, earrings…etc

After ceremony, The bride’s parents allows the groom taking the bride to groom’s family. Usually, the bride’s mother will accompany with the bride on the way. As the procession arrives back at the groom’s house, the groom’s family members that did not take part in the procession but remained at home will light firecrackers (before firecracker was banned) in celebration. The newlyweds will be brought to the groom’s ancestor altar to present the groom’s ancestors, where another ceremony takes place and the bride is introduced to the groom’s relatives. Finally, the bride is brought to the couple’s room and shown their marriage bed.

The receiption at the groom’s family:

Following the ceremony at the groom’s house, all of the bride’s delegation (around 30s) and groom’s family and friends are invited to a reception that traditionally takes place at the groom’s house.

Size of the banquet:

In the country side, more often there are two banquets separately for bride side and groom side. Banquet of the groom side takes place first and at the the day before the day of the bride comes to take the groom to his home. The banquet of the bride side invites bride’s friends and relatives only without the presence of the groom side except the bride must be shown during the party. The banquet of groom side seem larger than the bride because of participating of the groom’s delegation.

Nowadays, however, the reception occurs immediately after the procession ceremony to the groom’s house, or takes place at any desired location—such as either couple’s house, a restaurant or a hotel banquet hall. The vast majority of newlyweds also have their own place. If so, they simply go to their house.

Number of participants in Vietnamese wedding and wedding gift.

The number of guests in attendance at these modern-day receptions is large, usually in the hundreds. Elaborate 7 to 10 course meals are served, often starting with cold platters then followed by hot dishes such as seasoned lobster, hot pot, and other Vietnamese and Chinese banquet dishes, often ending with dessert or a fruit platter.

Guests are expected to bring gifts, and it is traditionally in the form of money in an envelope. Immediate family, usually gives more money to the bride and groom. At one point during the reception, the bride and groom will go from table-to-table to thank guests for their blessings and sometimes collect the envelopes. Most couples however leave a box at the sign-in table for guests to drop in their envelopes that makes the weddings today looks likely as a business. Frankly to say, the final collecting money is equivalent to what they paid for the banquet but they may lost money spent for photography and wedding dress. Occasionally, the government officer or famous newlyweds may have guests’ monetary gifts which would cover more than the cost of the wedding and reception. It’s more often today have name and tittle or rank of parents or newlyweds printed on the invitation card to expect the comers remember their position!

Bride and groom’s dresses.

In the west, bride and groom’s have their new dress made or used parent’s dress would be a great favor for them. In Vietnam, Vietnamese traditional long dress worn at ceremonious day usually made at the tailor shop but western stylish dress usually rent and wedding shop. For photos taken, it may be a bad omen if new couple photos are taken before the wedding day but it’s quite common in Vietnam. Photos are usually taken at the nice places such as Binh Quoi or Van Thanh amusement park, sometime, war cemetery could also be a photo taken place.

Betel nut and areca nut and betel leaf in Vietnamese wedding.

There were two twin brothers of the Cao family. Their names were Tan for the eldest brother, and Lang for the youngest one. They got schooling with a Taoist named Chu Chu who lived with his eighteen-year old daughter. He then married her to Tân, and the young couple lived with brother in law happily under same roof of house. One day, Both were working on paddy field and Lang returned home before Tan. The new wife stay at home and could not controlled her feeling when she saw his brother in law who she thought was her husband because they look very likely of each other. Lang knew that the serious mistake have been made by his sister in law and felt much shame about it and dared not confront and admitted to his brother.Then, Lang left the house wandering around the country. He reached a larger river and couldn’t cross it. He was so sad and missed his brother that he kept on weeping till death and was transformed into a lime-stone lying by the river side.

Troubled by the long absence of his brother, Tân went out to look for him. When he reached the riverside he sat on the lime-stone and died by exhaustion and weariness. He was transformed into an areca tree. The young woman in turn was upset by her unforgivable mistake and love sick for the long absence of her husband and got out for a search. She reached the same place where the areca tree had grown, leaned against the tree and died, transformed into a plant with large piquant leaves climbing on the areca tree. Hearing of this tragic love story, local inhabitants in the area set up a temple to their memory.

One day, King Hùng went by the site and gained knowledge of this story from local people. He ordered his men to take and ground together a leaf of betel, an areca nut and a piece of lime. A juice as red as human blood was squeezed out from the melange. He tasted the juice and found it delicious. Then he recommended the use of betel chewed along with areca nut and lime at every marital ceremony. He wanted every young couple should behave each other with respective ways and careful in their actions. From this time on, chewing betel became a custom for Vietnamese, and very often they began their conversation with a quid of betel.

In summary, Vietnamese wedding is changed quickly nowadays and many important customs have been ignored and replaced by western style. The traditional ceremonies in the old days were very complicated with compulsory services and cost of time and money. Today wedding procession is much simpler than before but it is also loosing its own values and becoming more “practical wedding”. The “competitive wedding” or “demanding family” have made newlywed become totally broke or in big debt after wedding. As thought, the wedding is a beginning of a new life for young couple, good traditional ceremonies should remain as supporting their spiritual life, good story should be told and share with new couple. Friends and relatives comes to a wedding with a good wishes for young couple and share with them the wedding cost.

Thank you for your reading!

Hong Duc

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Vietnam before economic reforms (Đổi Mới) 1975-1986

This post is desired to giving an overview of the reforms in the economic system in Vietnam since 1976, the year of reunification. Since the second half of the 1980s, the reforms have been known to achieving a transition process from the centrally- planned economy to a market economy. The post doesn’t aim to criticize any side but it only reflects a period of time from collection of official local newspapers recently.

Root of centrally planned economy from North of Vietnam since 1950s

North of Vietnam adopted central planning in the 1950s after defeating the French in 1954 and applied it during war time with American from 1945 to 1975. The basis of economy model was Soviet-style central planning which was focusing on heavy industry and collectivization of agriculture.

“Subsided Economy” (1976-1986) (Thời kỳ bao cấp)

In fact, it was centrally plan economy but Vietnamese used to call it “subsidy economy” (bao cấp), it means all sources of goods and raw materials are in the hands of the central State. Government coordinated all steps of economy from planning, collecting, circulating to distributing to end user (consumer). Each person was delivered with standard distributions which depended on working level, age, rank and position in government or professional. Production prices were strictly controlled by state, regardless of the market law  known as demand and supply.

The typical of centralized economy was  contrary to market law that made national economy facing with dramatic decline. Despite of government  tried to praise a new system and the good result would come to the country in long run, however, the outcome was very low in production and the management method was very discouraged to majority of people. Authority tried to control every aspects from production to circulation, for example, any person who wanted to bring a little rice, meat from his home to other areas was extremely difficult. Everything had been checked, caught, confiscated or even put in jail because it considered as illegal activity.

During this period, family background was very important for seeking job, promotion and entering university. With a “good back ground” you are favor to get more10-14 points from your actual points! Beside the gap of knowledge in the class was different, it also caused extremely ill feeling for young who had “bad back ground” and as matter of course it was very discouraged for self development and obviously led to disappointing feeling and lost of hope in their future. Fortunately, this period was not last long, it seemed dismissal year after year after of renovation time and seem going to disappear today. However, working for government you should know some key person in stead of your real capability!

Food stamp and family rice booklet

Sharing essential supplies had many problem as well as producing, for example four people shared a pair of bicycle tires, even a blanket! or some time 1 pig is shared among 20 households, everyone wanted to take the good parts and very difficult to divide fairly. A side from that, because of bad storage and complicated delivery, many supplied foods arrived to hand of people were in bad condition such as broken, rotten or even poisonous. Each family got their own “rice booklet” (sổ gạo) shown date and number kilos of rice During this time, Vietnamese had a famous saying” your face looks sad like loosing rice booklet”! (buồn như mất sổ gạo)!

State department store

At the state department stored, there was very regular scene of long queue, anything could be used for marking of their turn such as brick, newspaper, basket…etc. When queuing, people were pushing, arguing or even fighting each others. The food ration system mostly hated and made people loosing their temper and regardless to standard moral. The food rations are categorized into A, B, C, D, E which were depended on ranking of officers, professionals and ordinary people were the lowest.  There were some specific stores for high officers only like in Russia, where you even found imported liquors!

Transportation

For transportation, severe  lacking of vehicles and gasoline were a real problem during this time.  If you worked for government, you needed to show “introduction letter” issued by your director and most effective way was showing “hand letter” of knowing some important person. Ordinary people had to queue 1 or 2 days at the ticket counter, overnight on queue was normal in order to get a ticket for your seat. Drivers were very rich man and most beloved job because they could sell gasoline to the black market. Illegal commercial checking points were set up at the major points for inter-province transportation and that made your trip duration was indefinable because it depended on how long of your vehicle could be checked up each time! Sometime, students were misunderstood by governors, their belongings were confiscated everything they brought from home for living such as rice, bean, meat, oil…etc.

Agriculture Economic reforms

Collective farm

During the 1976-1980 period, the Vietnamese government pursued a collective farm to control 90% of people in country side. Under this regime, agricultural production took place in compulsory cooperatives that were supposed to control 95 per cent of agricultural land. All production and distribution decisions were made by the state. After harvest the state took out a the consumption of worker and rest had to sell to the state at a low price. The distribution agricultural products were based on work points.

What is work point?

The work-point system works as follows. A working day that a member of a cooperative spent working for the cooperative is counted as one work point. At the end of a certain period the work points of all members are added up. Total production will be divided by the total number of work points. Each member would receive an amount of output equal to the number of work points he/she has received. The problem was that the smart and cunning people got work points but actually didn’t work hard and the hard working people could be get the same as lazy ones. This matter caused very discouraged and unfair to certain people in collective farm!

Private trade in agricultural products was officially banned. Farming households could only use the remaining 5 per cent of land for the breeding of pigs and chickens and for vegetable production. Private trade in these products was allowed in small village but restricted to trade out at local markets. During the collective regime, rice production was marked with reduction, especially in 1977 and 1978 . Although the year of 1979 witnessed a recovery of rice production, rice production in this year did not reach the enough for self sufficient in the country. This situation forced Vietnam to import a large amount of rice so as to meet the domestic demand. Many families had to eat rice mix with tapioca, green banana or sweat potato. Wheat grain from Russia (Soviet Union) was imported but didn’t make situation better. Since the collective regime was seen as unworkable, in the country, farmers were resisted collectivization by “fence breaking” (xé rào) for example some provinces allowed farmers could farm on their own land with a small sized or increase number of their castles.

In summary, Economy before reforms had good and bad in people views today. The bad side of it was terribly wrong with free market philosophy and management. It provided what people were not in need but on other hand it impossible meet basis demand of people. The one-way thinking of state economist who wanted centralized economy as quickly as possible over free enterprise particularly in the South that led to terrible destruction of economy infrastructure before, waste people’s skill, denied professionalism and devaluation of  capital. Collective farm was unworkable because it distracted farmer’s working attitudes and promoted bad working behaviors. It created a good environment for evil thinking of privilege, corruption and advantaged person that they could get better income than hard workers and the problem is still going on until today in society. On the other hand, the good side of this period could be seen from less competitive in life, people didn’t have to mange to fight for luxurious life. People were supplied with free education, health care and basis food ration. Social problems were much less than now because of simple life and lacking of luxurious facilities.

However, it’s difficult to say this period is better than now because living standards and incomes are much improved since reforming. At least, it was a big lesson learn for  present governor that when they apply any new policy, they should have put in all account of side effects and carefully learn and research before operation.

Thank you for your reading!

Hong Duc

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Catholicism in Vietnam

The History of Jesus Christ

Jesus (also called Christ which means king or Messiah) was born in Israel 2000 years ago. Modern civilization marks his birth by dividing time B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini – or the year of our Lord). For his first thirty years, Jesus lived a traditional Jewish life, working as a carpenter. During this time, all of Israel was under Caesar’s Roman dictatorship, including Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and Nazareth, where he was raised.

In his thirties, Jesus began his public teaching and display of recorded miracles, yet still never traveled more than 200 miles from his birthplace. Over a three year period, despite his efforts to keep a low profile, Jesus’ reputation spread nation wide. The Roman governors and rulers of Israel’s provinces and the leaders of the Jewish people (the religious counsels) took note of him.

Many have asked “Who is Jesus Christ and ” Jesus’ most controversial act was that he repeatedly claimed to be God, which was a direct violation of the Jewish law. Therefore the religious leaders asked the Roman government to execute him. In each of several official trials, the Romans found that he was not guilty of breaking any Roman law. Even the Jewish leaders recognized that other than Jesus’ claim to be God, Jesus followed the Jewish law perfectly. Still the religious leaders, using the argument of political disfavor, persuaded Pilate, a Roman governor of the Southern province of Israel, to authorize an execution.

Jesus was brutally tortured and then hung by his hands, which were nailed to a horizontal wooden beam (cross). This method of execution restricted the airflow to his lungs, killing him in three hours.

However, according to more than 500 witnesses, Jesus returned from the dead three days later, and over the next 40 days journeyed in both the southern and northern provinces of Israel. To many, this was conclusive proof that Jesus’ claims to be God were real. Then Jesus returned to Jerusalem, the city where he was recently executed, and according to witnesses, he left the earth alive by rising up into the sky.

How did Catholic arrive into Vietnam?

From the 15th,16th century, the Europeans have known our country, but until the early 17th century, the West people began dealing with the Vietnamese mainly through trading. Naturally, Eastern Europe who set their foots on the ground in Vietnam first. They were Portuguese from Austria, who arrived to Vietnam by northeast monsoon, The Spanish from Philippine, The Dutch ,British came to Vietnam from India. Europeans began to contact the South in Dang Trong (Cochinchine) and later gradually moving northward. European had trade and opened first store in Hoi An (Faifo), where Japanese and Chinese have come before. Every time they came, they brought goods to sell, then on returning they bought  local products such as silk, cinnamon, elephant tusk.

The Nguyen Lord ruled in the South and fighting with Trinh Lord in the North. Nguyen Lord took advantage of the Europeans to help them beat the enemy, so they were very kind hospitality, to allow the commercial transportation business and built up their relationship with Portuguese. One of Portuguese who  named Jean de la Croix in 1614 came near Hue opened gun foundry (lò đúc súng) , today is known as the “Phố Lò Đúc” in ward 8 – Hue and Lord allowed Portuguese to built  church and welcome to Catholic teachers who wished to preach and carried on religious services. Many documents mentioned that thanks to the Portuguese helps, Nguyen Lord military power was more advanced than Trinh Lord in fighting during this time. They were not only transferring techniques of gun foundry but also war strategy, knowledge on construction, administration, medicine and so on to the South.

Alexandre de Rhodes and modern Vietnamese language:

Not until 1624, when a French missionary, an prominent scholar,talented Father Alexandre de Rhodes came to Vietnam, the Catholic  passed a major turning point in Vietnam. He worked both North and South of Vietnam in 22 years. He mastered the language, history and geography of Vietnam, especially the conversion of Vietnamese language using the Latin alphabet. With a few changes and revisions later, the Vietnamese language was officially to become the national language from the end of the 1910s and popularized by Ho Chi Minh in 1030s until today in Vietnam, a only country in Asia has most perfect localized western language system and made a boots for further development, high literacy and easier adopted Western culture, religion, philosophy than any other countries in the region.

The last Dynasty of Vietnam and Catholic in relation:

Late 17th century to the time of King Gia Long in 1802, activities of Catholic missionaries were often difficult. The ups and downs of Catholic which much depended on the King’s sympathy or antipathy to this religion and of course mainly from close mandarins who were sometime very conservative in protection of tradition . Some times, they allowed missionaries to live for preaching but other times they expelled them out of their territory or even executed them as what happened with 3 Martyrs (Thánh Tử đạo) Andrew, Inhaxo, and Vincent during (1644-1645).

Catholicism and Tay Son Brothers.

Nguyen Nhac, Nguyen Hue and Nguyen Lu, the three Tay Son brothers (1788-1802), Although the Tay Son brothers were not opposed to Catholicism, most of the missionaries had to leave Vietnam because of war. During this time, the activities of the Catholic were not much but Catholic was not prohibited during this time.

Why did Tay Son mistreat Catholic?
Policy for Catholic has gradually changed when Bishop of Adran (Bá Đa Lộc) who then publicly supported Prince Nguyen Anh, the opponent of the Tay Son. Tay Son began persecuting the Catholic believers and teachers such as churches were destroyed, Vietnamese priests and believer almost had to hide in forest or arrested. In nine years under the Tay Son, number of Catholic people decreased from 100,000 down to 60,000 in the south.

Ba Da Loc Priest in favor of Nguyen Anh

Eventually, Nguyen Anh was successfully eradicated Tây Sơn. During 18 years of King Gia Long, the Catholic was in peace and had development even the King was non-believer. He also did not give any privileges to the Church. He often expressed gratitude for the missionary Adran Ba Da Loc , who was dedicated to helping the king until his death. During the reign of King Gia Long, the Catholic Church has 320,000 followers, 119 priests in Vietnam, 15 foreign missionaries and three bishops. It is worth noting that 80% of Catholic priests and officials were northern Vietnamese!

The most difficult time of Catholic in Vietnam

After Gia Long King, the Catholic Church went through a darkest period in history under King Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Tu Duc (1833-1883). King Minh Mang banned Catholic activities in the whole territory on January 6 in 1833.

This commandment followed by King Thieu Tri and Tu Duc that had any illegally evil religious  practices (tà đạo) would to be put to death. Priests or followers who did not convert their beliefs then were engraved on faces but at least they were not to be killed. Many foreign missionaries, many teachers in Vietnam were killed because local authorities who accused them of anti-King’s order or anti-emperor activities. May of them were accused as spies of foreign invaders.The kings of Vietnam had opposition to Catholic because they want to protect ancestor worship belief. They claimed that Catholics do not worship Ancestor therefore  Catholic was a threat to the tradition of the country.

Another reason was political reasons because the obvious policy of colony’s expansion such as England had colonized India and Burma and France wanted to expand their presence in Asia after India lost to British hands. The missionaries were regarded as spies and faithful Catholics Vietnamese who were regarded not hesitate to betray their country for religious freedom.
In 1862 a peace treaty (hòa ước 1862), the Emperor of Vietnam was forced to admit the domination of France administration and religion as said: “The South must let the French missionaries having freedom to preach, and to allow people practice any religion they want”

Influence of Catholic in Vietnam today.
In fact, the Catholic religion is an most organized system in Vietnam today. With 8 million Catholics in the whole country today. Catholic community is the largest and most powerful society of Vietnam. In addition to the teaching and training of local leaders, the Catholic have a large system and effective system of education and social activity. Catholic was extremely developed and expanded during the Vietnam war because receiving great favor from Ngo Dinh Diem government. President family was very strong believer and also this led to his death in 1962 during the chaos. However, the event had not stop to make thousands of Vietnamese have become catholic every year. Catholic has had great influence in the intellectuals and spiritual virtues . Particularly, Catholic in Vietnam has got a special grant from Roma allowed to worship ancestor in order to remain a good tradition of Vietnamese custom.

Ten commandments of God (10 điều răn của Đức Chúa Trời)

  1. You shall have no other Gods but me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Respect your father and mother.
  6. You must not kill.
  7. You must not commit adultery.
  8. You must not steal.
  9. You must not give false evidence against your neighbour.
  10. You must not be envious of your neighbour’s goods. You shall not be envious of his house nor his wife, nor anything that belongs to your neighbour.

In summary, Catholic arrived much later in Vietnam society compare to Buddhism. However, Catholic has been quickly expanded and inspired on Vietnamese.This happened because Vietnamese Buddhist characteristics which  never hate or dismiss any different beliefs in history. Vietnamese were always gentle, nice and hospitable to all missionaries or Westerners who were first arrived.  But just because many of the unfortunate misunderstandings specially the continuous civil war in Vietnam had put missionaries to opponent site in certain period that let to execution, mistreatment rather political reason than religious belief. In addition , Catholic automatic input a strange tradition was not wise in a country that had deeply  root in ancestor worship. This belief was taken as a good reason to mistreat Catholic believer for long period. The present of Westerners with clear objective of expansion their colonies that prevented many Vietnamese from recognition of the good religion and good belief for everyone.

Thank you for your reading!

Any question, please call number 0903857607.

Hong Duc

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Buddishm in Vietnam

1. History of Buddha

Buddha is a spiritual name of prince – Siddhartha Gotama. He is regarded as the Supreme Buddha. “Buddha” meaning “awakened one” or “the enlightened one. Vietnamese literally pronounce “But”.”  Buddha lifetime was as c. 563 BC to 483 BC. Buddha was born in Lumbini, modern Nepal today in the Royal family.

Story has it that around the time of the Buddha’s conception, his mother, Mahayana had a dream in which she saw a large white elephant enter her side. Because the elephant was an auspicious symbol of sovereignty, Brahman (Bà La Môn)-priests said that there were two options: either the child would grow up to be a great emperor or he would become a great holy man who would teach the world.

Siddhartha married and had a son: Rahula, but at age 29, around 534 BC, Siddhartha abandoned his luxurious life because having increasingly dissatisfied with the contrast between a life of aristocratic luxury and the suffering he observed endemic in all people. He  began living an ascetic (khổ hạnh) life, training with ascetic philosophers, and practice mediations.

After six years, around 528 BC, he found that the severe practices did not lead to greater understanding, abandoned them and concentrated on meditation and soon afterward claimed he had realized complete awakening or enlightenment into the nature and cause of human suffering and the steps necessary to eliminate it. This enlightenment is called a state of “Bodhi,” and hence the name “Buddha,” or “enlightened one.”

The Buddha emphasized that he was not a God nor the messenger of a God and that “Enlightenment” was not the result of a supernatural process or agency, but rather the result of a close attention to the nature of the human mind which could be rediscovered by anyone for themselves. – This is core philosophy of ancient Buddhism.

After illness Buddha died at Kusinara (now Kusinagar, India) at the age of 80. Buddha could foretell about his death 3 months in advance.

Vegetarianism is for Buddhists an ideal rather than a mandate and only discouraged people from killing innocent livings for food. Monks and nuns in particular are enjoined to accept all offerings of food made to them (unless they know an animal has been killed especially to feed them).

Buddha’s last words said : “All things which are made of parts eventually come apart. Be mindful, and achieve Enlightenment!”,

 2. How did Buddhism arrive into Vietnam?

Buddhism came to Vietnam in the 1st or 2nd century AD through  via the South from India trade routes and then the North from China. Buddhism was known in Vietnam earlier than China. By the end of the 2nd century, Vietnam developed a major Buddhist center  in the region, commonly known as the Luy Lâu center, now in the Bắc Ninh province, north of the present day capital city of Hanoi .

Luy Lâu was the capital of Giao Chỉ, (the former name of Vietnam), and was a popular place visited by many Indian Buddhist missionary monks. The monks followed the sea route from the Indian sub-continent to Vietnam that mainly used by Indian traders.

Just because Buddhism was transmitted directly from India to Vietnam era. At beginning Buddha Sanskrit should have been transcribed into Vietnamese directly into :“Bụt” and in the eyes of Vietnamese, Buddha as a God is always  appearing ready to help the good and punishes evil. During this time, mainly Theravada (ancient Buddhism was known in Vietnam). In the IV and V century, there was a flow of Mahayana Buddhism  from China. Soon, it was overwhelmed and replaced with Theravada before. From Buddha to the Chinese transliteration of a Buddha into Vietnamese “Phật” and gradually replaced “Bụt” from beginning.

3. Differences of Mahayana and Theravada in Vietnam.

Mahayana that is “large vehicle” or  called “big wheel” is one of two major schools of Buddhism – the Theravada is called “small vehicle” or “small wheel”

Appeared in the first century BC in China, Mahayana considered themselves to be great because the vehicle based on the diversity of teachings to make way for a large number of enlightened beings and more opened than Theravada . Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism are rooted in the history of the philosophy of Buddha, but different places attention on teaching practices and ideas. Mahayana is remarkable in praising Bodhisattva’s love and compassion. Therefore a side from Buddha, Mahayana also worships many Bodhisattva and Theravada worships only Buddha.

Although Buddhism  is divided into two traditions known as Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. However, it should be considered as original and modern branch. It’s literally can say as a tree and if Theravada is a rood and Mahayana is branches and flower.  Not a tree could be called when there is no root or tree tops. Consistency in teaching of Buddhism can be seen easily and actually no conflict and it should be combined instead separation.

In Vietnam, Mahayana is popular practiced in the North because political and religious capital was there and Theravada is existed in Central and Mekong Delta of the South. However, two sects have been living well in harmony and transmitted each philosophy elites  into each other and forming distinguished Vietnamese Buddhism which is slightly different to other countries in Asia.

4 Development of Buddhism in Vietnam

In history, Buddism became prominent in Ly dynasty (11-3 century) and Tran dynasty (13-15 century)

This period, Buddhist monks also directly participated in politics by working directly establish economic and diplomatic plans, even the discussion of military issues. The main problem involved, but there were not Buddhist monks participate in government policy, so then, when the court was stronger, would be able to bear the all responsibilities, monks were retreated with official issues, became spiritual guidance and moral. It seemed great combination of Confucianism & Buddhism that made Buddhism has a strong foundation for further development and dept in set into society of monarchy system.

Under the impact of Buddhism , Ly and later successors Tran dynasty created a cultural identity politics in benevolence of human nature. The kings of these dynasties had moral life and lived in spirituality. Mostly minimum competition of winners, depressed the riots, tortured protestants, but instead with a politics of tolerance, mercy, compassion for the people  and even with all enemies (King Ly Thai Tong pardoned for Nung Tri Cao, Ling Ly Thanh Tong did not kill the old king of Champa). Social behaviors were well set up throughout the country.

King Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308), the well known founder of Truc Lam Zen which developed until today. After 21 years as king, he resigned and devoted his life for Buddhism. That became tradition of later Kings of Tran dynasty.

Highlight of Truc Lam zen philosophy that teaching is not in theory, which is in existence in yourself, or back to ourselves, not to found in the Buddha. It’s very similarity with original of Theravada. In this time, King Tran Nhan Tong was well-known in giving contrast view to all accepted attitudes for example: ” Existence or nonexistence is all none “ .King also criticized that people are wrongly when set up boundaries and too much rely on theory and concepts which Buddha tried to avoid in his time such as between right and wrong, between day and night, between love and hate, between living world and nirvana. With this precepts, Truc Lam zen had opened to a new direction of deep, true wisdom in Buddhism of Vietnam.

5. What Does the Swastika (Chữ Vạn) mean?

The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used for over 3,000 years, the image of the swastika was used by many cultures around the world, including in China, Japan, India, and southern Europe.

The word “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit svastika – “su” meaning “good,” “asti” meaning “to be,” and “ka” as a suffix.

What is Swastika in relation with Nazis (Hitler)?

In 1920, Adolf Hitler decided that the Nazi Party needed its own insignia and flag. The swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man or the “God Chosen people” that led to the massacre million of Jews. Because of that, the swastika soon became a symbol of hate, violence, death, and murder in Europe.

There is a great debate as to what the swastika means now. For 3,000 years, the swastika meant life and good luck. But because of the Nazis, it has also taken on a meaning of death and hate. Maybe, When Hitler used this symbol he even didn’t know its meaning in the East. Therefore, it made more contrary of Buddha concepts of benevolence, love and hate, violence and peace, murder and arise, intelligent and stupid, dark and bright, blindness and enlighten.

Another way of explanation is quite interesting since the Nazis used of the swastika, some people are trying to differentiate the two meanings of the swastika by varying its direction – trying to make the clockwise, Nazi version of the swastika mean hate and death while the counter-clockwise version would hold the ancient meaning of the symbol, life and good-luck.

6. The meaning of Buddhist  flag

The Buddhist Flag, first hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used throughout the world to represent the Buddhist faith. The six colors; Blue , Yellow , Red , White , Scarlet , and the mixture of these six colors  of the flag represent the colors of the aura that emanated from the body of the Buddha when He attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The Horizontal Stripes represent the races of the world living in harmony and the Vertical Stripes represent eternal world peace. The colors symbolize the perfection of Buddhahood (Phật) and the Dharma (Pháp) – Monk (Tăng)

  • The Blue light that radiated from the Buddha’s hair symbolizes the spirit of Universal Compassion for all beings.
  • The Yellow light that radiated from the Buddha’s epidermis symbolizes the Middle Way which avoids all extremes and brings balance and liberation.
  • The Red light that radiated from the Buddha’s flesh symbolizes the Blessings that the practice of the Buddha’s Teaching brings.
  • The White light that radiated from the Buddha’s bones and teeth symbolizes the Purity of the Buddha’s Teaching and the Liberation it brings.
  • The Orange light that radiated from the Buddha’s palms, heels and lips symbolizes the unshakable Wisdom of the Buddha’s Teaching.
  • The Combination Color symbolizes the universality of the Truth of the Buddha’s Teaching.

7. Meaning of “Wheel of Birth and Deathc” (Bánh Xe Luân Hồi)

“Wheel of Birth and Death” moves continuously, it is also called “wheel of Dharma (Pháp) the Buddha’s teachings is ongoing of development and integration. Buddha teaching and practices will take  people from dark to light, from suffering to happiness, from low to high, from blindness to enlightenment, from hell to Nirvana.

The Wheel circle is drawn in 8 . The number 8 represents  the “The Eight right Path”, through the practice of “Eight right Path” which brings human beings toward enlightenment.

What are “the eight right paths?”

1. Right View (chánh kiến hoặc quan điểm đúng)

Our happiness and the happiness of those around us depend on our degree of Right View. Touching reality deeply — knowing what is going on inside and outside of ourselves — is the way to liberate ourselves from the suffering that is caused by wrong perceptions. It is the insight we have into the reality of life, a living insight that fills us with understanding, peace, and love

2. Right intention (chánh tư duy hoặc nghĩ đúng)

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage”.

3. Right speech (chánh ngữ hoặc nói đúng)

Right speech is avoiding “wrong” speech in our daily communication that creates hateful and deceptive. This engenders disharmony,  and physical and spiritual violence. The right speech has help Buddhists are living harmonious with other religion and not criticize or deny any other concepts since it was found.

4. Right action (chánh nghiệp hoặc làm đúng)

This means that when we act “rightly,” we act without selfish attachment to our work. We act mindfully, without causing conflicts with our speech. Our “right” actions spring from compassion and from understanding of the dharma. Each aspects of the path supports all the other aspects

5. Right livelihood (chánh mạng hoặc sống đúng)

Along with Right Speech and Right Action, Right Livelihood is part of the “moral conduct”, there are five percepts to keep right livelihood

  1. Not killing livings
  2. Not stealing
  3. Not misusing sex
  4. Not lying others
  5. Not abusing drug

6. Right effort (Chánh tinh tiến hoặc siêng năng đúng)

The effort to prevent evil thoughts or actions especially greed, anger and ignorance from arising inside of you and help others to do as you. The right effort support all other right paths.

7. Right mindfullness (Chánh niệm hoặc nhớ đúng)

The word “mindfulness” mean “retention,” “recollection,” or “alertness.” Mindfulness is a whole-body-and-mind awareness of the present moment. To be mindful is to be fully present, not lost in daydreams, anticipation, indulgences, or worry.

8. Right concentration (chánh định hoặc tập trung đúng)

Right Concentration is focusing all of one’s mentality onto one physical or mental object, it supports all other 7 right paths and mostly practice by Buddhist monk or teachers.

The “wheel of birth and death” is usually placed on the lotus symbolizes the  pure of Dharma (Pháp) as the lotus grows in mud rising from the mud, but no ill smell of mud.

By practicing Buddhist Dharma (Phật Pháp) will take people out of brith and death circle in spiritual life, it likes taking people from muddy, low place to fragrant, clean and higher bar.

In summary, Buddhism came directly from Indian in 1st and 2nd Century that allowed the development very early Buddhism in Vietnam. In the following centuries, Vietnamese Buddhism had communication with Chinese Buddhism, but based on original one for new development in philosophy. Over Dinh, Le, Ly, Tran, Buddhism had been growing and opened, combined other philosophies such as Confucianism and Taoism that made Buddhism of Vietnam very flexible, interactive,  tolerance, opened and durable from up and down of history. Buddhism of Vietnam is not only religion but it existed and a conduct of morality, a guidance of living in each Vietnamese.

Thank you for your reading!

Any question, please contact me at number 0903857607

Hong Duc

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