Sunday, April 25, 2010

On MOUs, Marble and Music

The recent drought of postings was because I've been busy travelling. This week I was back in Vietnam - two days in Hanoi, two days in Da Nang (where I am right now) and half a day stopover in HCMC.

Da Nang was the key focus of this trip. It's still one of my favourite cities in Vietnam and I've been engaging with various government agencies there for a number of years. The purpose of this trip was to oversee the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the People's Committee of Da Nang and Cisco. I had been working towards this for quite a while, and believed this to be a significant milestone in our partnership. More on this event can be read here.

After the official work was over, I had a chance to pay a visit to Marble Mountain, one of a cluster of five marble/limestone mountains located a few km south of Da Nang, that stretch from the coast inwards (in a westerly direction). The mountains are named after the five elements; Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth). There are many caves and tunnels in the mountains and I read that they were used quite a bit during the Vietnam (or American, depending on which side you are on) War. The area is now famous for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts.

Here's a shot of the area where the Marble Mountains are located. You can see three out of the five mountains ...

And here are some shots taken at one of the many stone sculpture shops.

So remember .... if you want to order some marble lions or dragons or deities or nude maidens or fountains for your grand mansions, you can place an order with me. Shipment to all corners of the world provided. I'll give you some good rates. LOL

Finally after dinner last night, I was invited to a music lounge to enjoy some traditional Vietnamese music and modern pop hits. I was impressed by the quality of the musicians (the white-haired violinist you see in the photo is particularly good!). And of course, there was a variety of singers doing everything from Vietnamese ballads to Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me". Alas, none attempted "Nobody".

All the lady singers I saw were lovely and had extremely powerful vocals. This was evident as each lass belted out soulful numbers one after the other with ease.

Da Nang and its surroundings are indeed fascinating places - ideal for relaxation and for exploring the real Vietnam. It is clean, safe, scenic and the people are mostly friendly. I have quite a number of friends in Da Nang and I'd certainly recommend it to all.

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