Wednesday March 18, 2014

A: This week we got a letter from Tim Watson of the US, who hasn’t written to us for a very long time. It’s always a pleasure to have contact with an old friend. Tim tuned in to our program on March 10 on the frequency of 6175 khz and rated SINPO at 43333.

B: He noted all major contents of our program and expressed interest in the Indian Cultural Week in Vietnam, craft villages on the outskirts of Hanoi, and how the senior villagers hand down their craft to their children. Tim gave us a compliment: “I was very glad to catch your recent broadcast on shortwave, which received well in Maine in the morning of March 10. As always, VOV is my favorite source of news and information about Vietnam, but I also recognize it as a vital source for world news and commentary. My favorite parts of the broadcasts are features on Vietnam’s music and culture.”

A: Thank you very much, Tim, for your feedback. We’ll verify your report and send a QSL card to you soon. If you send another letter to us, please send it to our email address at Thank you.

B: Here I have an email from another American listener, Howard Kelting, who regularly tunes in to our channel but rarely sends reception reports. Howard listened to the program on March 11 on 6175 khz and experienced a very steady signal with no interference at his place in Westport, Connecticut. He rated SINPO at all 5s.

A: He caught a story about Vietnam’s Constitutional reforms dealing with human rights and expanding the rights of lawyers, and another story about the Mong of Vietnam’s northern mountains. Howard said the Mong tradition of unity and helping each other is a good lesson for all people.

B:  Thank you, Howard, for sending your first reception report to VOV. We’ll send a verification card to you soon. We are looking forward to receiving more feedback from you. From Indonesia, Muhamad Zaenal said he wants to know about Vietnamese floating markets and the Vietnamese food called “Chau Tôm”.

A: Ok, we’ll talk about the floating markets but I don’t clearly understand what “Chau Tom” is. I’m thinking shrimp paste, shrimp soup, grilled shrimp paste, or salted shrimp.

Wednesday March 18, 2014 - ảnh 1
Sour fermented shrimp, a speciality of Hue city

B: Can it be fermented shrimp paste or shrimp sauce - “Mam tom”? It’s an authentic Vietnamese spice that traditionally accompanies many northern dishes.

A: Maybe you are right. Anyway, let’s talk about “Mam tom”. The sauce is made from fermented shrimp, which smells very pleasant to most people but is stinky for some.

B: Fine “Mam tom” is made with chili, sugar, fresh lime juice, and hot oil to make a dipping sauce for many dishes. Some popular dishes are “bun rieu”, vermicelli and sour crab soup, Vietnamese eggplant served with shrimp paste, and boiled pork with shrimp paste.  The most typical dish is rice vermicelli and fried tofu dipped in shrimp paste.

Wednesday March 18, 2014 - ảnh 2
Rice vermicelli and fried tofu dipped in shrimp paste

A: One of my favorite dishes with shrimp sauce is grilled turmeric fish. I’m addicted to it. You should serve shrimp sauce with fresh leaves such as mint, basil, ginger, dill, or green banana.

B: Wow, it sounds tasty. A foreign friend of mine said “The sauce smells like hell but tastes like heaven.”

A: True. The sauce is very strong-tasting. Many Vietnamese and foreigners find the smell of fermented shrimp paste overwhelming. They use a fish sauce called “nuoc mam” for a milder flavor. Well, we should stop talking about this now. I’m starting to crave this food. Here I have a reception report from Muralidhar of Bangalore, India. He used a Tecsun PL-660 receiver to tune in to our channel on 7220 khz and 9550 khz on February 19. Signal quality on both frequencies was good with SINPO rating at all 4s.

B: Sharma is another Indian listener who often tunes in on 7220 khz. He also reported good transmission on this frequency. The frequency of 7220 khz is most frequently used by Indian listeners because it has steady strength and less interference.

A: Pak Ning Tjang of Indonesia asked “Does VOV broadcast on 9545 khz in English at 16:00 UTC?’ We don’t use this frequency. At 16:00 UTC, our transmission is beamed to Europe and Central Asia on 7280 khz and 9730 khz. At the same time, listeners in Africa and the Middle East listen to us on 7220 khz and 9550 khz.

B: In the last few minutes of the Letter Box, let’s talk about floating markets, a typical feature of Vietnam’s Mekong delta. The Mekong Delta covers an area of approximately 40,000 square kilometers to the west of Ho Chi Minh City. This is an area of lush, tropical and fertile land.

Wednesday March 18, 2014 - ảnh 3
Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho city

A: Life in the delta revolves around rivers and interlacing canals. Local people travel by boat and buy and sell things on boats. The Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta, begins around 5 am and runs until midday. A stretch of boats selling a variety of goods lines the river. It’s not really a place for tourists to buy souvenirs. Local people come here to buy large quantities of goods, mostly foodstuffs.

Wednesday March 18, 2014 - ảnh 4

B: Visitors will get an idea of what water commerce in the Delta looks like. Boats identify what they are selling by hanging a sample off the top of a long pole; if you want pineapple, simply scan the line of boats for a hanging pineapple.

A: You’ll also get the opportunity to talk with some of these floating merchants. Most commonly this happens when a small boat selling drinks latches onto the tour boat’s side. Tours of a Mekong delta floating market are often combined with other activities, such as a visit to an orchard or mangrove forest, or a homestay with local people to try their daily work, such as fetching water and fishing.

B: On previous shows, we’ve talked about floating markets and other features of the Mekong Delta. You’re interested in this topic, please go to our website to read the transcripts. Time’s up on VOV’s Letter Box. Once again, thank you for listening and writing to us. We’ll send you QSL cards to confirm your reports soon.

A: 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 until next time.