As I strode into the restaurant, relieved to take a brief respite from the chaos that is Saigon's streets, a warm smile greeted me. A young man, probably in his late teens, led me to a table and handed me a menu. There were fried pork ribs with lemongrass, ginger-braised chicken, steamed prawns in coconut juice. Not terribly surprising southeast Asian fare. But this was a surprisingly different restaurant. People don't come to Vietnam to eat. At least not historically. They came for other reasons. The Khmer, the Chinese, the French, the Americans came to occupy, to settle, to pillage, to exploit, to push back, or various other things that didn't always sit well with the locals. And while they didn't come for the food, their influence on Vietnamese cuisine is now indelible. The Khmer influence can be seen-or, rather, tasted-in the south, the Chinese in the north, the French all over the place (banh mi, anyone?). But, like a lot of people these days, I came to Vietnam to eat. And I … [Read more...] about From street kids to culinary stars in Vietnam
All things kids
To have dinner before saying grace" or getting pregnant before marriage was once looked on as shameful by Vietnamese families, even if the couple eventually got married. There were endless whispers and assumptions about the young women involved, even if they were living with the father of the child and planned to get married. In feudal times, unwed pregnant women were described as spoiled, immoral or lascivious. Some even had their heads forcibly shaved. Or they were covered in lime and thrown into a river to drown for their "disgraceful" behaviour. … [Read more...] about The winner takes all!
by To Nhu Many parents in big cities are registering their children for Buddhist teachings in pagodas during summer or at weekends in the hope that they will give up bad habits and create good personalities. Eighth-grade student Tran Minh Khoi from Ha Noi's Dong Da District, describes the opportunity as magic. A voluntary guide at Bang Pagoda he smiles and says hello to everyone he meets – a big difference from the selfish and stubborn boy he was a year ago. Khoi admits that in the past he did not help his parents – or anyone for that matter. "I fought with my younger brother to get the best food and games," he says. "I hated paying attention to others. I thought I was the most important boy in the world and had the right to ask my parents to do anything I wanted." Khoi's father tried unsuccessfully to change his bad nature, but decided instead to take him to the pagoda every weekend. In the peaceful Buddhist surroundings, Khoi follows the routines of monks, learns … [Read more...] about Kids experience magic at pagodas
by Thu Hien Teacher Tran Duyen Hai guides a junior tailor, a homeless child to adjust his sewing work. For nearly 40 years, he has nurtured and taught more than 1,200 homeless children and orphans to do tailoring at his home. — VNS Photo Thu Hien HA NOI — Pursing his lips, sixteen-year-old Nguyen Huu Manh is focusing his attention on his sewing machine as he makes a wedding dress. Beside him, his teacher, 75-year-old Tran Duyen Hai, bends his back to observe and guide him to adjust the needle work. Looking at Manh now, no one can imagine that six months ago he was a thief who almost lost his life after being stabbed during a fight. It was the elderly teacher Hai who found Manh and took him to a hospital, carrying the teenager on his back. Manh says Hai was the only person to offer him assistance in his hour of need. "No one came to my aid because they did not want to associate with a gangster like me, except for Hai," he says. "Hai sat awake for several nights … [Read more...] about Tailor passes on skills to destitute kids
This Week: Should the country impose a luxury tax on soft drinks? The Viet Nam Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Association (VBA) recently proposed that the State administration impose a 10 percent-tax on carbonated beverages, otherwise known as soft drinks. In a proposal sent to the National Assembly, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance, the VBA said carbonated beverages contain a level of acidity that is 100,000 times higher than normal water, which can lead to obesity. According to the document, a reaction between the drinks' saturated carbon dioxide (CO2) with acid in the body creates pressure on the stomach and intestines; and is especially harmful to those who suffer from ulcers. Currently, domestic beverage companies have chosen to focus on non-carbonated drink products, leaving the carbonated drinks to the production of foreign giants. Viet Nam's annual per capita consumption of soft drinks rose sharply in recent years, from three litres in 2007 to … [Read more...] about Parents are vital in ensuring kids survive cyberbullying