To the residents of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, which is often dubbed “the country of coconuts,” the coconut tree means many things in their life.
Coconuts are for food, coconut leaves for wrapping or roofing materials, coconut trunks for building materials, and so on and so forth. However, Le Van and Vo Van Ba, two residents of Ben Tre City, want to prove coconut trees can be used otherwise. That is coconut wood can be made into traditional Vietnamese musical instruments.
Van was the first to come up with the initiative. A member of an ensemble performing for the local people’s army unit during the last war, Van often faced difficulties when his musical instruments were broken between battles. Once he used the locally ubiquitous coconut wood to mend a damaged instrument. “It worked quite well,” he says.
Now at peace time, Van told Vo Van Ba, one of his cronies, the idea of creating a local orchestra performing coconut wood instruments, and won Ba’s total support. They later met leaders of the provincial authorities responsible for culture and tourism to discuss their intention. Van and Ba pledged to make a set consisting of 10 popular local musical instruments based mainly upon coconut wood.
Tran Ngoc Tam, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that VND40 million would be advanced and two old coconut trees of over 50 years old felled so that the two artisans could carry out their project.
During the celebration of the Coconut Festival scheduled for late April, an instrumental will be played to open the event, and the instruments to be used will be those made by Van and Ba.
Cafes of electronic gadgetry
Hiring hot waitresses are a blunt yet effective way of attracting clients developed by many café owners in Saigon. According to Phap luat TPHCM newspaper, however, since several months ago, new cafes have emerged where in place of beautiful girls are the latest technical gadgets.
Nguyen Phuong Dung, manager of one of the pioneers, Ca phe Tinh Te (Tinh Te Café), says her café plans to offer technological knowledge to customers, young and old alike. Dung says among the Tinh Te’s frequenters are elderly people who visit the coffee shop to seek assistance in using new technical devices.
Another of sorts is Ca phe F1 funded by The Gioi Di Dong, a digital technology company. Occupying a two-floor building, Ca phe F1 has its ground floor for lovers of smartphones, ipads, laptops, digital cameras and technical accessories while the first floor is for those who are crazy about video and audio systems. Pham Thanh Hai, project manager of Ca phe F1, says the café serves as a “test bed” for new digital products before they are actually imported.
Meanwhile, Ca phe 3D takes another direction. Customers at this café can watch 3D-films while sipping their favorite coffee.