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Sep 30 2012

Vietnam prepares stricter rules for casino industry

vietnam prepares stricter rules for casino industry

Vietnam will require casino investors to have a registered capital of at least US$4 billion for their project and will not lift a ban on gambling for locals, a new draft policy says.

Under the Finance Ministry’s draft decree, casino will remain a restricted business line in Vietnam and only investors with a minimum experience of 10 years will be allowed to enter the market, news website VnExpress reported Saturday.

Investors will also have to seek permission from at least five ministries before their project can be officially licensed by the prime minister. Applications for a casino operating permit will not be considered until construction of the project has been completed, according to the report.

Amid ongoing debates on whether to start allowing locals to gamble, the Finance Ministry has proposed that the government keeps the existing policy unchanged, with only foreign passport holders being let into casinos. Vietnamese employees at casinos should be completely banned from gambling too, the ministry said.

Nguyen Mai, former deputy planning and investment minister, told VnExpress that he agreed with sustaining the gambling ban on locals. But the proposed regulations might be too tough on investors, he felt.

So many requirements will keep investors out of the country, he said. “If the government is not confident about being able to prevent locals from entering casinos, it should just completely ban all casinos instead of setting out these rules for investors.”

The new draft decree from the Finance Ministry, to be submitted to the government soon, is in line with views expressed by other officials earlier.

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh had said in March that Vietnam is not encouraging investment in casinos and the ban on locals gambling is non-negotiable. Some foreign investors are seeking a new policy that will allow locals to enter casinos, but that is not up for discussion, he said.

Vietnam now has four casinos, all in the northern region. Experts have said these casinos, of very small scale, have not contributed much to boosting tourism.

US casino groups MGM Resorts International and Pinnacle Entertainment are developing the $4.2 billion Ho Tram Strip with two casinos and five hotels around 80 miles southeast of Ho Chi Minh City. The first phase of the project, which was licensed in 2008, is slated for opening next year.

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Sep 30 2012

Vietnam police probe 4 former ACB execs for fraud; banking clean-up underway

vietnam police probe 4 former acb execs for fraud banking clean up underway

Inspectors from the Ministry of Public Security Thursday said they have started investigating the possible involvement of four former Asia Commercial Bank officials in a fraud worth nearly VND719 billion (US$34.17 million).

Tran Xuan Gia, former chairman — and Minister of Planning and Investment in 1996-2002– and deputy chairmen Trinh Kim Quang, Le Vu Ky, and Pham Trung Cang are being probed for “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, resulting in serious consequences.”

But they have not been arrested because of their clean records, the inspectors said.

Gia, 73, Ky, 56, and Quang, 54, resigned from their posts two weeks ago.

Cang, 58, resigned as deputy chairman of the Vietnam Export Import Bank (Eximbank), which he had joined in 2010 after quitting ACB.

The four, together with Ly Xuan Hai, until recently the CEO of ACB, reportedly approved the transfer of some VND1 trillion ($47.53 million) to 29 banks to earn higher interest rates than regulated.

Nearly VND719 billion of it was deposited at the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank), and swindled by Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, former chief of the Dien Bien Phu Street branch in Ho Chi Minh City.

She was arrested in October 2011 for allegedly cheating many people, banks, and businesses out of more than VND4 trillion.

The four men are suspected of involvement in the embezzlement, though details are sketchy.

Sixteen others have also been taken into custody on suspicion of helping Nhu with the scheme.

The ministry inspectors said the transfer was initiated by Nguyen Duc Kien, an ACB co-founder, who was arrested on August 20 on charges of illegal business activities at his three companies, fraud, and “deliberately violating state regulations resulting in serious consequences.” 

Hai, who resigned after Kien’s arrest, was taken into custody on August 23.

Asked if the 29 banks that received the money from ACB would be punished, Vu Duc Dam, chief of the Government Office, said Thursday that only those who violated regulations would be penalized.

Since the investigation has been launched after they resigned, the bank’s operation would be“unaffected,” he said.

“The government and related agencies have anticipated possible occurrences and introduced stringent measures to maintain stability in the banking system,” he said.

“The legal interests of people depositing money at banks will be guaranteed; there is no need to worry.”

Since investigations are still in progress, more information cannot be revealed, he said.

“Since banking is a sensitive field, law enforcement agencies will strictly punish violations, and the government has ordered related agencies to closely cooperate to protect the banking system from collapse.”

The government has also ordered police and the State Bank of Vietnam to take all necessary measures to deal with illegal acquisitions of banks — by buying shares in the market without disclosing the fact – identified so far, he said.

The crimes will be dealt with thoroughly to “cleanse” the banking system, he stressed.

Meanwhile, the central bank has begun a bank restructuring program, and is now quickly reorganizing banks with poor performances, and Dam added that the SBV aims to finish the task by next year.

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Sep 30 2012

An enchanting village

an enchanting village

A poor and remote spot in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, Sai Khao is a favored destination among Vietnamese backpackers for its magnificent views and simple, kind people


  Sai Khao Village is the highest point in Muong Lat District, which is some 700 meters above the sea level, in the northern province of Thanh Hoa

In backpacker circles, there is a lot of shaking of the heads.

They are sad that the historic and picturesque Mai Chau – Muong Lat – Sai Khao route is going to be closed, because work will soon start on the Trung Son Hydropower Plant, a project aided by the World Bank in Thanh Hoa Province.

The route, which starts in Mai Chau District in Hoa Binh Province, goes through Thanh Hoa’s Muong Lat District and ends in Sai Khao, was used by the famous military unit Tay Tien (westwards) in 1947 when they were assigned to join hands with Laos in fighting the French colonialist forces.

We decided to revisit Sai Khao and once gain go on the historic route of Tay Tien, well-known thanks to a poem of the same name.

One of the poorest villages of Muong Lat, Sai Khao “welcomes” tourists with rough and long, sometimes seemingly endless, slopes. In fact, many bikes in our group broke down on Pu Hin Hai, the longest and highest slope. Some members who rode pillion had to get off and push their vehicles to get to the top.

But when we reached the village of 390 mostly H’Mong residents, we were glad that we made the effort to make it here.

Dubbed the “Da Lat town of Thanh Hoa,” Sai Khao has a cool atmosphere with air so unpolluted it seems to have a bite when you breathe. Since it is the highest point in Muong Lat, which is some 700 meters above the sea level, travelers can take in a panoramic view of high mountains and sky, as well as the H’Mong people’s green terraced fields of corn and rice. You do not need a photograph…it is a sight that will never fade from your mind.

Sunrise and sunset in Sai Khao are unforgettable experiences as well. Early in the morning, after rains, clouds embrace mountain tops and everything is bathed in a golden light.

Nights in Sai Khao are almost pitch dark, because there is no electricity, only lights from candles, oil lamps and stars. This also means that we get the rare chance to observe stars closely without a telescope or hindrances of high buildings.

Even though Sai Khao has almost nothing – no water supply, no telecommunications, no faved roads and not even a market, the village makes up for it with what many tourism destinations in Vietnam are losing: kind and simple-hearted people.

In Sai Khao, a young lady who ran a small café gave us fresh bamboo shoots so we could “improve” our meals, while an old ice-cream seller gave us extras without charging. Getting lost was never a problem, just another opportunity to interact with residents who always had time and patience to give.

The pure laughter of local children who go to school on bare feet, sometimes without proper attire because they are too poor, will stay with us forever. Their school was built from three almost-torn down houses and a few wooden planks.

Many Vietnamese backpackers keep revisiting the Village, charmed by the people and their children, carrying clothes, goods, books, notebooks and other things donated by others to give to locals.

The route

The Tay Tien route starts in Mai Chau District’s Ban Lac Village, which is some 140 kilometers from Hanoi. Travelers can take a bus at the capital’s My Dinh Bus Station. Or go by motorbike and follow the National Road 6.

From Ban Lac, follow Road 15A to reach Co Luong Town, also part of Hoa Binh. In Co Luong, go along the Ma River to reach Hoi Xuan Town, Quan Hoa District, Thanh Hoa Province. After that, go along Road 520, for 112 kilometers to reach Muong Lat.

Sai Khao is 15-18 kilometers from Muong Ly Commune, Muong Lat.

The whole trip from Hanoi to Muong Lat is some 420 kilometers, and full of challenges. Travelers should expect to meet numerous bridges made from bamboo and wood. They cross over rivers, streams and rocky creeks.

The path to Muong Lat is tough, with tortuous sections that run along the mountains. Moreover, some of them have been hit by landslides and rockslides over the years, so after rains, they become almost impossible, even for experienced drivers, to ride on.

It was lucky that the day of our trip was sunny, but since some parts of the road were under construction, we had to cross the Ma River to change our route. The thrill (and fear) of being on a bamboo raft crossing the fierce river is, as they say, “something else.”

In the end, the risks are worth it, as the trip delivers innumerable delights.

At some parts, for example, the road is bigger and decorated with bamboo barriers that local people make to protect their terraced fields.

The ubiquitous presence of bamboo in Muong Lat is part of its unique charm. Along the road, sometimes we went through bamboo forests, but sometimes it looked as they we were going above them.

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Sep 30 2012

High and dry, then wet and delicious

high and dry then wet and delicious

Dried bamboo and cassava noodles make up some of northern Vietnam’s most important dishes


  Canh mang, an important dish for the traditional Tet feast in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tra My

Mang kho and mien make up the two most important soups of the traditional Tet feast in north Vietnam.

Mang kho (dried bamboo shoots) and mien (cassava noodles) are both dried naturally and the drying process preserves them beautifully; you don’t have to worry that your bamboo or cassava will go bad for a long time.

Canh mang kho (dried bamboo shoot soup) and soups made with mien (often chicken noodle soup) both combine dry textures with fresh ingredients and herbs for their unique flavors.

Because mang kho and mien are light and somewhat soft and porous in texture, they absorb the flavors of the other ingredients in the soup: chicken or duck and/or pork, spring onions and moc nhi (black, or “cat ear” mushrooms).

After the war when food and money were scarce as Vietnam struggled to recover from the worst bombing campaign in history and then a suffocating American embargo, busy working mothers bought bundles of mang kho and mien in advance before Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) while prices were still cheap before holiday inflation. A northern Vietnamese Tet feast is not complete without these two dishes.

Mang kho and mien can absorb a lot of water and they become about three times larger in volume during the cooking process, another plus for cooks struggling to make ends meet.

Mien is made of cassava powder. Besides various mien-based soups, then noodle is also an important ingredient in nem ran (fried spring roll).

The most traditional mien dish is mien ga (cassava noodle with chicken broth and shredded chicken). The dish is set at the family altar during Tet, and in various arrangements at funerals, death anniversaries and other special occasions.

During Tet, northerners keep the water they boil their chickens in to use for mien ga. Boiled chicken meat, as well as boiled chicken heart, stomach and liver, are shredded and cut into small pieces before being placed in the bowl.

After soaking the dried mien in water until it becomes softer, northern cooks then cut it into shorter pieces and add it to the hot water pot. Moc nhi and spring onion are cut into small pieces and also added to the pot to help bring out the flavor of the chicken.

Mien is very fragile and soft and it takes only a few minutes to cook it. The cook needs to make sure the noodles don’t boil too long in order to maintain the right softness.

After arranging mien in a bowl, my mom would add shredded chicken meat and chicken liver on top together with coriander. The soup looked almost as delicious as it tasted.

Nowadays, people also cook mien with duck and it is served all day long at some Hanoi restaurants. The subtle taste of mien also goes well with crab meat. Mien cua (stir-fried mien with crab meat) is a new dish served across Hanoi.

Fried tofu, and spring onions often accompany mien cua in Hanoi.

During protein-rich meals chock full of pork pie, beef pie, boiled chicken and sticky square cake, mien is a light and delicate dish for people avoiding heavier foods, or those trying to save room for later during daylong Tet feasts. At Tet, mien is often served alone but some people like to have it with a side of steamed rice.

With its ingredients usually cut into very slim and small pieces, mien remains subtle in flavor. But mang kho offers a combination of rawness and softness that is a bit sharper. The shredded dried bamboo shoots are cooked in chicken water for hours, or even boiled in a pot with pork legs and pork ribs.

If you have the chicken water already, it takes only a few minutes to cook mien (which is normally the last dish cooked just before the Tet feast). But it takes hours to cook canh mang kho (dried bamboo sprout soup).

The mang kho is first soaked in water and boiled for hours until it becomes soft. Then it is shredded into smaller pieces by hand before cooking

Similar to mien, mang kho can be cooked with chicken water or pork chops. But it takes many hours to cook, and my mom would always start preparing to cook a big pot of canh mang three days before the Tet feast. Then, with each meal throughout the festival, we’d have a portion of the re-heated soup invigorated with fresh chicken water.

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Sep 30 2012

Resort in central Vietnam offers oxygen therapies

resort in central vietnam offers oxygen therapies

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, a beach resort and spa in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa, has become the first spa in Vietnam to offer oxygen therapies.

A recent press release from the bay-side resort near Nha Trang reported that it is launching a full range of oxygen infusion and inhalation therapies, namely Intraceuticals Oxygen Treatments, Oxygen Detoxification Wellness Programs and Beauty and Wellness Spa Holidays.

The two-day package costs between VND2 and 7 million (US$96-336) and is valid until the end of the year. Reservations can be made via phone at  058 352 4268.

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Sep 30 2012

New wildlife park planned for north Vietnam

new wildlife park planned for north vietnam

Authorities in the northern province of Ninh Binh have approved plans for a new 1,500 square-hectare wildlife park in the north-central province, the government website reported Thursday.

The park, to be located in Nho Quan District, will be divided into six main areas, including a theme park, and a center for wildlife study and care.

Further details about the project, however, have yet to be released.

Ninh Binh already boasts Cuc Phuong National Park, which is home to 2,000 species of plants, 110 species of reptiles and amphibians, 125 mammals, and 308 bird species.

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Sep 26 2012

PetroVietnam divestment from non-core areas a hard task

petrovietnam divestment from non core areas a hard task

Experts say economic climate not conducive for withdrawal



  A file photo shows the PetroVietnam building in Hanoi. The group has been ordered to withdraw from non-core sectors. Photo: Bloomberg

The government’s order for state-owned Vietnam Oil and Gas Group to withdraw from non-core sectors is necessary to restructure the firm, but it will not be easy to implement amid the current economic slowdown, experts say.

In a recent statement, the government said that the group, often known as PetroVietnam, would have to divest from its financial arm, PetroVietnam Finance Corp (PVFC), and that it should submit a restructuring plan this month.

The group has been deeply involved in ineffective operations that have hurt its core businesses, it said. However, financial details were not disclosed.

Economist Le Dang Doanh said the divestment is needed because non-core activities could cause big losses for the state budget.

PetroVietnam accounts for nearly a third of the combined debt held by Vietnam’s 12 largest state-run groups, which is estimated at VND218.7 trillion (US$10.4 billion), or 8.76 percent of the banking system’s total loans as of September 2011, according to the Ministry of Finance. The ministry has not qualified the statement about the quality of debt held by PetroVietnam.

“The divestment should have been implemented sooner, as the government had made a common request on the issue to all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) a long time ago,” Doanh said.

“Now, PetroVietnam will find it hard to do it, as it is not allowed to sell stakes to investors at lower prices than their original value. Meanwhile, the stock market is still going down.

“Moreover, investors now do not have a high appreciation of Vietnam’s business environment. Thus, they will carefully consider investing in the country,” he said.

PetroVietnam’s website states its operations extended into areas such as banking and securities, the construction of public housing, hotels and a taxi firm.

The group will be restructured to focus on oil and gas exploration and production, petrochemical production, gas development, electricity generation, and oil and gas services, the government has said.

Vo Tri Thanh, deputy head of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said it is not easy for PetroVietnam to sell shares amid the market downturn. However, the group could seek other ways to divest, he said.

“The market is seeing a lot of merger and acquisition activities now. So, the situation is not so bad that firms cannot sell their stakes even when they offer low prices,” he said.

PetroVietnam holds a 78 percent stake in PVFC. It also owns 20 percent of Ocean Bank. Despite asking PetroVietnam not to maintain PVFC, the government did not say if PetroVietnam should sell PVFC or dissolve it.

PetroVietnam has invested some VND5 trillion ($238.1 million) into non-core sectors, the group’s chairman Phung Dinh Thuc told reporters in July.

The group has proposed that the government allow it to refrain from withdrawing its total investment in PVFC, as the financial firm can help arrange capital that the group needs, he said.

PVFC may become a bank and issue shares to raise its registered capital by 50 percent to VND9 trillion ($431.9 million), local media reported in May.

Slow progress

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has recently approved a three-year restructuring plan for state-owned corporations that focuses on equitization and withdrawal from non-core investments. Under the plan, all SOEs will have to withdraw from their non-core investments by 2015.

An economist said SOEs have been asked to divest from non-core sectors and concentrate on their core business ever since the economy experienced a slowdown three years ago. In 2009, the government issued a decree which asks SOEs to pour at least 70 percent of their total investment into their core business.

The issue of SOEs’ divestment from non-core sectors reemerged recently with the government seeking ways to improve their effectiveness. Many of them have faced big losses after investing in non-core sectors some years ago.

“However, their divestment decision is often too late,” he said.

When the stock and property market developed strongly a few years ago, many firms poured big investments into non-core sectors, but without specific business plans. They held on to their stakes expecting higher prices in the future.

When the economy went down, too many rushed to sell their stakes, but found it difficult to find buyers, he explained.

Over the past three years, there have been very few successful divestments like the one by Electricity of Vietnam, which divested from EVN Telecom, he said. The firm was acquired by military-run telecom giant Viettel early this year.

Economist Doanh said the divestment plan was being implemented too slowly, and the government and state-run groups should make “stronger efforts to accelerate it.”

Divesting from non-core sectors so that SOEs could focus more on the main tasks entrusted by the government is quite necessary, but even this should be carefully considered, economist Nguyen Minh Phong said.

“The bearish stock market cannot withstand trillions of dong being withdrawn,” he said. “We should have a concrete, sector-specific roadmap for this.”

Dinh Quang Tri, deputy general director of EVN, has been cited often as saying the withdrawal of SOEs’ non-core investments cannot happen as fast as expected, partly because they are not allowed to sell stakes to investors at a lower price than their original value.

For instance, some investors agreed to buy EVN’s stakes in other companies but they offered less than what the utility had paid for them earlier. As a result, the company could not accept the offers.

Tri has said the government needs to give SOEs more autonomy and allow them to sell shares at market value. For companies that the government wants to divest completely from, it is necessary to accept losses and sell shares below their original value, he said.

Dinh Thi Quynh Van, general director of the consulting and auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Vietnam, said SOEs cannot divest at any time they want, especially in the context of their investments being ineffective.

Withdrawing at any cost could lead to huge losses, so the government should ask other SOEs that focus on investment to help manage the ineffective investments for some time. Then the withdrawal can be implemented at a more suitable time and in more favorable conditions, she said.

Thanh said it is difficult to say whether SOEs can pull back their total investment from non-core sectors by 2015 because it depends on market changes.

However, Doanh argued that there is sufficient time between now and 2015, if there is “strong determination.”

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Sep 26 2012

iPhone 5 to make official Vietnam debut in October

iphone 5 to make official vietnam debut in october

Local wireless carriers Viettel and Vinaphone have announced plans to sell the new iPhone 5 in Vietnam next month, saying they will undercut unofficial sellers who are offering the device for up to US$1,200.

News website VnExpress reported Friday that military-run Viettel was about to ink a deal with Apple Inc. to distribute the phone in Vietnam. The country is not on Apple’s priority list so sales will begin later than in other markets, a source from Viettel said.

State-run Vinaphone said it has already finalized a contract to sell the phone in October. No official date was announced.

The iPhone 5, which is thinner and has larger screen than its predecessor, went on sale in stores across Asia, Europe and the US on Friday. Prices in the US start at $199 for a 16 GB model with a service contract, and $649 without contract.

Immediately following the Friday release, many phone shops in Vietnam started selling the phone, saying they bought the device from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Due to the small supply, the unofficial prices ranged up to $1,200 apiece for the 16 GB model, or more than 80 percent higher than what US consumers are paying.

While the phone is still considered a luxury product by most people in Vietnam, where per capita income was around $1,300 last year, its release has been closely followed by the country’s young, tech-savvy population.

One phone shop in downtown Ho Chi Minh City said that it moved 15 units per day over the weekend.

The new phone requires network carriers to switch to a smaller SIM card called the nano-SIM. However, VnExpress reported that the regular SIM being used in Vietnam can be cut and resized easily to fit the new phone.

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Sep 26 2012

Hue’s An Dinh Palace to get tourism services

hue%e2%80%99s an dinh palace to get tourism services

 
 Photo: Thai Phien

The An Dinh Palace in Vietnam’s former imperial capital of Hue will be transformed with new tourism services next year.

According to Phan Thanh Hai, director of the Hue Heritage Preservation Center, the La Residence Hotel has surveyed the sight and approved plans for high-end tourism facilities at the former imperial palace.

The tourism package will open Khai Tuong Lau, the major area and chief architectural draw of An Dinh palace, for tourists to view the living place of Emperor Bao Dai’s family. Service will give the tourists a chance to observe the daily royal lifestyle of the emperor as well as his wife, mother and children. Some valuable antique items from the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum will be exhibited in the restored space.

Parts of the palace will also be transformed into space for cultural exhibitions recalling the history of Hue. Antique collectors and fine art collectors, as well as photographers, will be invited to exhibit in the spaces. The hope is to attract the local community, especially students.

The An Dinh Palace is a typical Nguyen Dynasty residence built in the early 20th century. The palace, located on the bank of the An Cuu River and outside Hue’s major citadel, was used by Emperor Khai Dinh before it was conferred on Vinh Thuy Crown Prince who then became Bao Dai, the last king of the Nguyen Dynasty as well as Vietnam’s feudal system.

The place was also where Bao Dai and his family lived after 1945. After 1975, it was donated to the revolutionary government.

In recent years, the lack of preservation has seen the palace fall into disrepair.

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Sep 26 2012

One man’s quest to revive Hoi An tradition

one man%e2%80%99s quest to revive hoi an tradition


  Tourists feed worms with the precious Cham mulberry leaves at the Silk Village in Hoi An. The village was set up by a businessman to restore the town’s tradition of silk production which dates back 300 years.

Hoi An is no longer about just lanterns: an audacious businessman is trying to revive the town’s centuries-old tradition of silk production by creating a “silk village” with a million dollars of his own money.

Le Thai Vu, director of the Quang Nam Silk Company, spent more than 20 years studying the silk-weaving industry, which he describes as “romantic,” before creating the village as a symbol of ancient rural Vietnam.

It opened to tourists in early August, offering an interesting and intimate insight into one of the country’s traditions.

Vu, who has sunk more than VND20 billion (US$960,000) in the village, said it is yet just the first stage. He hopes to bring back a time when, 300 years ago, Hoi An was also a bustling port from where silk-valued as much as its Chinese counterpart in Japan and Southeast Asia – was shipped.

He says he did not actually have to create anything, just revive the “golden” traditions.

For the silk Vu spent a lot of time looking for seeds of the Cham mulberry tree which has become rare in Vietnam.

He chose this variety since the tree is believed to make for the best silk in the country. There were several reasons silk from Quang Nam Province – in which Hoi An is situated – was chosen to offer to kings in the past, and one of the most important was the Cham mulberry tree.

His efforts paid off when early this year he found a tree on a mountain in Que Son District. It had been there for very long, but locals did not realize its worth. They showed him 40 other trees in the area, each thought to be around 500 years old and some more than 10 meters tall.

He uprooted all of them and planted them in the village.

Old Cham women from Ninh Thuan Province, the home of Cham temples on the south-central coast, were employed to operate the looms there together with some younger women.

The village’s main products are silk cloth and brocade pieces, the latter a typical garment worn by the Cham.

Vu says the village is home to some precious silkworm varieties besides the Cham mulberry, but he hopes it will one day become more than just a mere museum.

“It can grow into a silk production center, win back fame for Vietnamese silk which has for decades now lost out to Chinese products,” he says.

Creating the village was like going through a course in advanced culture, ethnography, and architecture, he says.

He read books, consulted leading architects and researchers about the structure of the ruong – the old wooden Vietnamese house – the looms used by the Cham in the area for more than 1,000 years, and those brought by the Kinh, the country’s predominant ethnic group, from the north.

“Putting up the houses felt wonderful.

“Each house is like a person. It needs to have its spirit and serves the same purpose as our ancestors once used it for.

“I want to make modern people love the houses because Vietnamese houses are very beautiful.”

The artisans live and work in the houses now.

The 2.1-hectare village at 28 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, 800 meters from the town center, is an amalgam of the Vietnamese and Cham cultures of the peoples who used to live there.

Apart from the old houses are areca ranges, banana gardens and a main path bordering lotus ponds.

Visitors are allowed to participate in different aspects of the silk-making process – like picking mulberry leaves from the garden to feed the cocoons. They can buy products from the village, rent silk costumes to put on and walk around, and see dozens of costumes from the early 1900s worn by the country’s 54 ethnic groups at a museum.

They can listen to folk songs from of the region sung by young women working at their looms, and enjoy Asian and European buffets served from baskets on shoulder poles like in the past.

Visitors are welcomed at the village gate by a small stall selling che, the popular sweet soup, and nearby is an altar house to worship Doan Quy Phi, a woman famous for developing silk-making and dyeing in the region 300 years ago.

Vu hopes visitors could experience the same feelings that he himself has, explaining that the village changed him, making him mellow and serene.

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