Wednesday, January 15, 2013

Hello and welcome to VOV’s Letter Box, our weekly feature dedicated to our listeners throughout the world. I’m Mai Phuong.

And I’m Ngoc Huyen. It’s nice to be back again on VOV’s Letter Box.

A: This week, we have continued to receive Christmas and New Year cards with beautiful greetings from our dear listeners around the world. We would like to thank Peter Ng from Malaysia for his beautiful Lunar New Year card showing a yellow horse on a red background. According to Oriental culture, red and yellow represent luck, happiness and prosperity. As the Lunar New Year approaches, we wish you all the best for the Year of the Horse.

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B: As Phuong said, after celebrating the solar New Year 2014, Vietnamese people are now busy preparing for the Lunar New Year or Tet which will arrive in two weeks time. And as always, the time before Tet is the busiest time of the year. These days, everybody seems to be rushing. Everybody is counting down to Tet and trying to finish all they need to do before Tet. Here at VOV, we are busily preparing special features covering Tet celebrations in Vietnam. In banks and businesses, debt clearance has become an urgent task because according to Vietnamese tradition, all debts should be paid before Tet. Otherwise in the coming year, you will always be in debt.

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A:  The most exciting place is always the markets, where traders are piling up goods to serve increasing Tet demand. Tet goods are everywhere, in the supermarkets, markets, and even on the streets. These days, the Tet atmosphere seems to be prevailing all over Vietnam.

B: This week, we would like to welcome some new listeners to VOV: Rakhi Rani and Rajib Kumar Mondal of Bangladesh. Rafiqul Islam also from Bangladesh and Jayanta Chakrabarty of India sent us New Year greetings and compliments on our program. Rafiqul called our program and webpage a mirror or panoramic picture of Vietnam.

A: Thank you all for your compliments and greetings. From the US, Stephen Zolvinski reported listening to our program on December 22, 2013 between 2:30 and 02:57 GMT on the frequency of 6175 Khz using a Grundig YB 400PE receiver with a telescopic antenna augmented by a wire stretched across the room.

B: Stephen wrote: “I have visited your country a few times and teach about Southeast Asia at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana. I love your country and people so much, so I am happy to hear your broadcast. I particularly like Vietnamese traditional and popular music and I also like the water puppetry. Can you tell us more about water puppetry?”

A: Puppetry is a traditional art form closely associated with Vietnamese wet rice cultivation. Water Puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

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B: The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A long rod supports each puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control it so that the puppet appears to be moving over the water. When the rice fields were flooded, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

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A: Modern water puppetry is performed in a pool of water 4 meters square, the water surface being the stage. Performances today occur on one of three venues—on ponds in villages where a staging area has been set up, in portable tanks built for traveling performers, or in a dedicated building where a pool stage has been constructed.

B: A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides musical accompaniment. The instrumentation includes vocals, drums, wooden bells, cymbals, horns, Dan Bau or monochord, and bamboo flutes. A bamboo flute's clear, simple notes may accompany royalty while drums and cymbals loudly announce a fire-breathing dragon's entrance.

A: The theme of the skits is rural and has a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. It tells of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren. Stories of the harvest, of fishing and of festivals are highlighted. Legends and national history are also told through short skits. Many of the skits, especially those involving tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist.

B: Water puppetry shows have become a staple of tours in northern Vietnam. Shows are performed at Thang Long Water Puppetry Theater in Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hanoi, and in Ho Chi Minh City, they are offered at Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theater, Vietnam History Museum, Thao Dien Village. Go and see it for yourself.

A: Now here’s a letter from one of our loyal listeners M. Muralidhar of India, who has listened to our program since 1997. Muralidhar attached to his letter the verification card we sent him more than 10 years ago and wrote: “Seeing this card is like being transported in a time machine almost 17 years back. I was a high school student when I received this QSL card from VOV”.

B: It’s nice to hear from you again Muralidhar. Thank you for tuning in to our programs. We’ll verify your listening report with a new QSL card.

A: From India, our regular listener Rana Dewan Rafiqul says he is interested in learning more about the education system in Vietnam. Education in Vietnam is divided into five levels: preschool, primary school, secondary school, high school and higher education. Basic education consists of five years of primary education, four years of secondary or intermediate education, and three years of upper secondary education.

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B: The main educational goal in Vietnam is improving students’ general knowledge, training quality human resources and nurturing and fostering talent. Vietnam is currently trying to overhaul its education system. The 8th plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee adopted a resolution on radically and comprehensively reforming education and training in Vietnam to meet the demands of national industrialization and modernization and international integration.

B: The resolution is now being implemented with the ultimate goal of increasing knowledge, training human resources, and encouraging talented students to use their potential and creativity.

A: This week, many listeners sent us letters and emails confirming that they have received our 2014 calendars. Also on today’s Letter Box, we’d like to acknowledge letters from Ahmed Elmasry of Egypt, Asik Eqbal Tokon of Bangladesh, Sanjay Sutradhar, Ratan Kumar Paul, Karobi Hazarika and Siddhartha Bhattachajee of India, Roland Franzen of Sweden, Allan Fenix of the US,  and Avinash Premraj of the United Arab Emirates,

B: That’s it for this week’s Letter Box. We welcome your feedback at: English section, Overseas Service, Radio Voice of Vietnam, 45 Ba Trieu Street, Hanoi, Vietnam. Or you can email us at: You’re invited to visit us online at, where you can hear both live and recorded programs. Good bye.