By Nguyen Hoa Minh – Translated by Kim Khanh
SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 8 February 2021 – Ukiyoto Singapore Pte Ltd. starts out the year 2021 with exciting releases ranging across mystery thrillers, memoirs, biographies and culinary reviews. With its focus on literary activities in Asia, this season of Litteratura, The Literary Magazine slated for release end Feb’21 covers few of the best authors and writers from Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and India.
In Q3 FY20-21, Ukiyoto had tied up with a chain of mega bookstores such as Kinokuniya, MPH, Times, LitBook Cafe via distributor Gerakbudaya in Malaysia to source books for placement at their stores. Several outdoor activities such as book launch, book reading, award ceremonies and others are planned in the second half of 2021 based on government decisions with regards the pandemic.
To mark the Chinese New Year 2021, an online live Panel Discussion is scheduled on 14th Feb, 12:30pm PHT on the topic, “Scope of Literature in Asia post Pandemic”. The panel comprises writers from Philippines — Lia de Jesus, Nicole Narvato, Karmela Mirriam Ebreo and Anne Marla moderated by best selling author, Shrutidhora P Mohor from India.
Christine Musa, author from Philippines says, “My book entitled, ‘I Escaped the Narcissist: Memoirs of an Empath Supernova‘ was the very first ever published book that I have, all thanks to Ukiyoto Publishing for making my dream of becoming a published author finally come true!
Christine’s future plans as a published author is to produce more content which are focused around having a peaceful life away from any form of abuse and a truthful life away from any pretentions driven by the desire to have a picture-perfect ideal life.
Karmela Mirriam Ebreo, a Filipina by blood and birth is a lawyer by profession and a blogger by passion. An active member of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer organization working to economically empower women and girls, she started Mirriam Dictionary back in 2009 when she was about to graduate college. Life had a few surprises along the way and she ended up in law school. Her recently released title, Life Un-Counselled supposed to be a collection of her musings and life hacks — That is what the title is really about, life counselling. Since she is not a psychologist but a case counsel — not an expert on life in general, it was tweaked to be “un-counselled”. However, upon consultation with Ukiyoto, she was advised that it was best to feature her craft projects for her first book with the subtitle: a case of quick craft projects.
Mirriam loves DIYs and everything crafting but hates long and complicated ones. In a nutshell, the book is for those who are like her — a lazy type of crafter.
“I am all for women empowerment. Women and girls have so much to offer this world, and when they are empowered, they can contribute more to society. Most women are inherently creative but sometimes they are discouraged by complexities. In a way, Life un-counselled: a case of quick craft project seeks to inspire these creative hearts to begin. That is also why extremely easy projects are featured in the book. From here, they can start a small business too like paper crafts or party favors. If they do that, they are one step closer to becoming economically empowered women, the goal of the organization I am in– Soroptimist International. The book somehow tries to achieve that too.” as Mirriam tells us.
Vartika Sharma Lekhak, our author from India is a post-graduate in History from JNU, an educator by profession and a travel writer.
She is the author of the book — Bra Strap, and two anthologies — When Women Speak Up and The Take Off. The short-story collection Bra Strap — The stories hidden beneath the strings gives voice to the subdued tales of women from different walks of life. It highlights the message that everyone has a story to tell, some of them are magnificent, while some are ordinary. But every story needs to be told. The Anthology ‘When Women Speak Up’, published by Women’s Web, features leading women voices in India including her contribution, ‘The Girl With Sealed Vagina.’ The Take Off, a passionate project of Cyclops, is India’s first book that brings true stories of Indian cyclists, including her contribution, ‘A Housewife’s Bike Love Story.’
From childhood, Vartika liked to maintain a writing journal. Even today she has a trunk full of old diaries, letters which she considers as her priced possessions.
Vartika’s Inspiration: “Very early I had discovered that the message which I can put across through my writing is more impactful than the spoken words. I find writing a more resonating tool than anything else. Like, when I was in grade nine, I was punished by the headmistress for something which was not my mistake. I was so angry and hurt, didn’t know how to react. Then I wrote a poem expressing my detest at the injustice and the next day in the school assembly recited it. Of course, after that, the headmistress was more annoyed and my games period were banned, but I was now at peace for speaking up.”
Vartika’s writing continued through the college days in the campus journals and sometimes through the young writers’ meets. By then it had evolved into words that were sensitive but also sharp. She was writing more about social impacts, such as the incidences of rape, dowry deaths, gender prejudice, lawlessness and others. Some of them were published in the national dailies and online forums engaged in serious discussion about these issues. The turning point came when she started receiving encouraging letters from the readers. This motivated her that there are many who think like her and most importantly, her pen is making an impact. Like a reader wrote, ‘I am the father of a boy and I read your article ‘The Mother of a Daughter.’ Thank you for an uncensored narrative of a mother’s fears. We need to read more of this more often.’
Shrutidhora P Mohor, had her debut with her autobiographical novel The Unknown Script which is a story of a young professional woman’s journey in life. Two of her next writings, both long stories, went on to take her ahead into the world of literature by clearly establishing her preferred genre as literary fiction with a strong element of politics and shades of romance in it. Of these two, Twenty Three Summers remains her most-read, most-loved work, blending the political dispute in Kashmir with a same-sex love story. The other one, Showing Results: Zero of Zero is a futuristic dystopian tale of a reclusive man and his possible encounters with alien life and the utterly real consequences of that in a digitised, virtual existence of mankind. Set in India of 2049 it is a story that silences the din and bustle of our wearily repetitive, social mediatised lives with a truth that is simple yet disturbing.
The next publication has been Where the Sky Feels Cold, a novella resituating the much-adored couple Sudarshan and Rukhi in an intensely conflictual politically destabilised contemporary India of 2019. Making a renewed use of the ‘political’ in her writings Mohor went on to pen a long story called Nefeli and Us: A Story of Love from the Past which got converted then into a graphic novel. A unique piece of work, it is a continuation of her tradition of writing which takes a serious look into even more serious questions of identity and rights through the lens of fiction, this time going back thousands of years into the Greek city-states of the classical Hellenic times.
Her latest single title The Last Gift is once again a novella in which Mohor explores postmodernist story-telling (taking advantage of her academic background, her professional competence, and her disciplinary base as a student of Political Science) by writing a story of perplexing interactions between an author-mentor and an author-disciple of his which tear apart metanarratives and the framework of sequence/ chronology of story-telling.
Sofia Naznim is a corporate strategist, author, blogger, and influencer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While speaking to her she says, “I have always wanted to be an author from the first day I discovered that my ultimate passion is writing when I was thirteen years old! It took me seventeen years to fulfil my ultimate dream which is becoming an author. It didn’t happen overnight or in a short period of time. The journey was interesting yet challenging and full of obstacles. I truly believe that if we want to achieve something so hard, we need to fully prepare and work for it and be persistent no matter how tough the journey will be. Even though there were many trials encountered in my journey, I still persevere and work hard to pursue my dream. I’m happy that I stayed true in what I truly believe in, didn’t give up and endeavoured towards achieving my goals.
I seriously began sharing my articles with people when I was twenty five years old. From there onwards, I have written more than three hundred articles along with the creation of my own website with stories, and reviews. In October 2020, I finally released my first motivational book, “A Book of Life (ABOL)“. ABOL will take you in the deep journey of enlightening you to find your motivation and inspiring you to be a better you. ABOL is available in Paperback and eBook now on Amazon, Kindle, Google Play, Ukiyoto, showcased at Frankfurt Buchmesse both in online as well as paperback formats! May all us can make a difference in our lives, the life of others and other beings too by reading ABOL.”
Harish Muralidhar, a twenty-five year from India published his book, “What is Justice?” in December 2020 and has since then been on several interviews and panels speaking about his book. Harish believes Quotes can bring a drastic as well as a positive change in one’s life and they have helped him overcome difficult circumstances in his life, which was what made him come up with his first book “52 Quotes to Change Your Life.”
“I have always had the passion to write from my school days but never dared to choose it as a career. But after I started my business, I decided to spare some time for my passion and lockdown has also helped to finish my book quickly. As previously stated writing is not a full-time profession for me at this point in time, I have always motivated others to follow their passion without compromising their profession, which would give them immense satisfaction.
Watching the news and movies which revolves about the crime and tragedy in the world has affected me deeply and I wanted to bring awareness to the world about it, so I decided to write a crime fiction book which is my second book named, ‘What is Justice?’, which is a crime thriller.”
Ethel Da Costa, an award winning Lifestyle Journalist, former Editor and Radio Head, an International Lifestyle Influencer, a global nomad, a seeker of truth and love released her book, The Stiletto Foodie — A Blog Binge in Malaysia (on 1st January 2021) which is her own discovery of self and soul in Malaysia through food. She had showcased twelve culinary ambassadors who she believes represent their own journey and their expression of self through the food they create and showcase to the world.
“I feel there is a series coming out from this title since there is so much more to write on food and the food of Malaysia. In fact, food of the different countries I hope I travel through. It’s so exciting.” says Ethel.
Ethel has been on this journey for the last thirty years with a multi-faceted media career that has taken her all over the world. One such journey brought her to Malaysia in November 2019 invited by Malaysia Tourism. They invited her back again in February 2020 when she decided that she was going to heed the call of Malaysia; hence returned in March 2020 and is now currently based in Kuala Lumpur. Meeting talented chefs and their experiences and journeys made a deep impact on her.
“It brought me home to myself. The more I got to know the soul of Malaysia, the more I was experiencing healing and a freedom, a letting go, which also evolved into food blogs. A very intimate journey exists between the food and emotions. The gift of words is my vocation. There is a purpose to this gift. I’m just honouring it here on my time on Earth.”
About Ukiyoto Publishing:
Conceptualised amidst the Wahiba Sand Dunes in Oman in Jan’19 with the idea of nurturing creative talent worldwide, Ukiyoto today has reached more than 2,000 authors and writers publishing books in both digital and print formats. Paperbacks and hardbacks have been physically shipped to more than 50 countries worldwide including places such as Tunisia, Israel, Russia, Dominic Republic and many more. With its upcoming launch of Ukiyosk, an Augmented Reality enabled platform, Ukiyoto promises to integrate technology with creativity and populate flipbooks (paperbacks in digital formats) with mass visibility across the globe.
A flower road of 700m long has been set up in Phu My Hung urban area in District 7, HCM City to welcome the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet holiday).
This work, with the theme “Spring reunion” was built within 10 days.
This year the flower road is decorated with special features of the three regions – the north, the south and the central region – and the symbols of Tet in other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, China…
Young girls wearing Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional gown) take photos with the scene of Hoi An on the flower street.
Yellow apricot branches symbolizing the Southern spring.
Golden buffalo, the symbol of the new year is displayed at the flower street.
Nguyen Thi Hong, a visitor, said: “This year the flower street is as not crowd as it was in previous year, but it is quite beautiful. There are many spots to take nice pictures”.
Banh chung and banh tet (Vietnam’s traditional cakes for Tet).
The strings, drums with Korean characteristics.
The Japanese-style gate and iconic cherry blossoms.
The flower street opens from February 5 to February 16 (the 5th day of the lunar New Year).
Workers are putting the final touches to decorations on Nguyen Hue flower street in HCM City, the country’s largest of its kind, before it officially opens to the public on February 9 to welcome the Lunar New Year.
On the night of Jan. 27, Quang Ninh recorded one of Vietnam’s first Covid-19 community transmissions in nearly two months: a man who works at Van Don International Airport. The man, eventually designated “Patient 1553”, was taken to Hanoi’s National Hospital for Tropical Diseases for treatment.
Those who had been in contact with the patient were quarantined at the No. 2 field hospital in Ha Long, with dozens of cases subsequently confirmed infected.
Every morning, doctors and nurses at the field hospital convened with peers across the country through a telehealth system to help diagnose and treat Covid-19 patients.
The hospital has 250 beds, along with state-of-the-art equipment for receiving, diagnosing and treating Covid-19 patients and suspected cases.
Over 100 medical workers and other employees are working at the hospital.
Doctors treat Covid-19 patients twice a day while wearing protective suits.
Nurse Nguyen Khac Sang, 34, has become a barber during his time at the hospital.
“We treat Covid-19 patients in three shifts between four teams. When the shifts are over, we have time to take care of ourselves. Some call their families, while others clean up areas across the hospital,” he said.
Ever since Sang joined the frontline fight against Covid-19 in February, his wife and children had to move back to their grandparents in Uong Bi Town, with the mother finding work at a local kindergarten.
“It’s nearly Tet but I cannot be with my family. In the evening, my wife and I often video call each other,” he said.
The treatment ward for Covid-19 patients is frequently disinfected.
A medic transfers a mobile X-ray scanner meant for patients unable to move from their wards.
Besides traditional diagnoses, doctors also communicate with their patients through the phone to cut costs, as every physical visit would require a new protective suit, priced at about VND1 million ($43.68).
All medical workers would be tested for Covid-19 once a week.
Doctors and nurses rest on the spot after receiving Covid-19 patients and suspected cases.
Nguyen Duc Doi, a doctor in the ICU, described the days near the end of January as “dizzying.” At the time, he was working as a Covid-19 screener, when he received wave after wave of new patients. There were days when he alone had to handle 80 people.
“I still had enough strength after the first night, but at the end of the next night fatigue overtook me. My throat went dry and my eyes forced themselves to stay open. I had to get out some times to take a breath and shake my head to stay conscious,” he said.
Doctors and nurses at the field hospital convene with the Quang Ninh Department of Health online.
Ambulances frequently zip in and out of the hospital to deliver Covid-19 patients.
As of Monday morning, Quang Ninh has recorded 47 Covid-19 cases during the new wave that hit late January. Several areas in the province have been put under lockdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
|A string of folk games will take place at Muong Thanh Dien Lam Ecotourism Site|
The festival organised by Muong Thanh Dien Lam Ecotourism Site will extend to the 10th day of the lunar calendar (February 22).
Visitors will be able to enjoy an ideal holiday during the festival in a dreamlike spring space. Stretching across the roads, colourful flowers arranged in Tet decoration clusters dye the ecological area with gold and vivid spring colours.
The Spring Market will offer arrivals the opportunity to partake in an ancient Lunar New Year with folk games and baskets of flowers. The traditional festival atmosphere will be bustling with folk games that anyone can enjoy such as catching ducks and smashing pots blindfolded, with chances to win hundreds of lucky gifts.
Worshipping at Lam Ha Pagoda is another special spiritual cultural activity. Here, visitors can admire the magnificent cultural and spiritual architecture, pray for peace, and head back to their ancestral roots with the Church of Mother Au Co and King Hung who formed the country a thousand years ago. In this solemn but tranquil place, overlooking the mountains and pure nature, visitors will find a deep peace of mind in the coming New Year.
|Lam Ha Pagoda|
Spring resort package for the whole family for only VND2.5 million ($108.7)
|The Amazing Park will be open during the Tet holiday|
Along with the brilliant spring festival, Muong Thanh Dien Lam Ecotourism Site also offers a preferential package for visitors to fully enjoy the cool spring air in the middle of Dien Lam mountains. With a variety of services and fresh green space, the site is a great destination for a spring vacation. Three days two nights package for two adults and two children under 6 years old priced for only VND2.5 million ($108.7) with:
– 2 nights in 5-star deluxe rooms
– Classy breakfast buffet
– One main meal (buffet included in package menu set)
– Tickets to visit the Muong Thanh Safari Land Zoo – Amazing Park Amusement Park Tickets
– Thac Tien hot mineral mud bath ticket with full services
– Free-of-charge use of the gym
Registrations can be placed until March 31, 2021
Muong Thanh Dien Lam Ecotourism Area Dong Nong village, Dien Lam commune, Dien Chau district, Nghe An province
Hotline: 02383 99 88 99
Mail: [email protected]
By Van Anh
Sitting on the edge of the modern world, the little country Bhutan made a name for itself as the world’s happiest country. Their way of achieving it, with all things considered, can be echoed in Vietnam, as seen from the ample potentialities of the upland province of Yen Bai.
This anticipation is not exactly pulled out of nowhere, for it is grounded on the Yen Bai administration’s decision to include Gross National Happiness, or GNH Index, as one of the touchstones for the 2020-25 term of the municipal Party Committee.
In contrast to the much more well-known Gross Domestic Product (GDP) tally, which promotes a focus on material gain, the GNH Index rewards approaches leaning toward holistic well-being, one that goes beyond economic development.
This was also the secret to the bizarre policy success of Bhutan, which started as a radical initiative by the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 and is still upheld to this day.
The question that remains, however, is whether Yen Bai can pick up the rope and improvise its own way toward another GNH success story.
Happiness in the terraced fields
Terraced fields in Yen Bai’s Mu Cang Chai District have enjoyed both authority recognition as a special national site and the ardor of tourists who flock to the area to catch sight of golden paddies during harvest seasons.
During these year-end holidays, income from the crowds of tourists may even exceed the value of the harvest itself.
Seeing the fledging potential in local tourism, several residents of Mu Cang Chai became first-movers of the sector, building unassuming homestay facilities filled with cultural heritage of the land.
One of them is the guest house of Giang A De, a Hmong native in La Pan Tan Commune.
His place proves a real challenge for visitors as it takes a long walk through up a steep slope from the car park to reach the house, but the magnificent view at the end is absolutely worth it – the scenario spreads to the horizon, presenting layers of blue mountain peaks and clouds under the syrupy gleam of the sun.
Giang A De said his income has been axed significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic that thwarted foreign tourist visits.
However, during this low-demand period, he found time to erect two more bungalows to preempt the next year’s tourism season.
Over the past years, the construction boom has seen intricate wood structures of the local community torn apart to make space for concrete monoliths.
De collected the fine pieces of precious Fokienia wood and reassembled them into two peculiar bungalows of his design.
Sitting in a composition of long-lived wood in the midst of terraced rice paddies like this can make a typical cup of tea or a sip of local corn wine more poetic than any urban experience.
Sensing the demand for a getaway from city dwellers, homestays in the fashion of De’s are emerging as a business trend in Mu Cang Chai.
However, having relished the laid-back experience at De’s place, it becomes clear to any visitor that the formula cannot be replicated with mass tourism or soulless copycats. It lives in fresh air, the woods, and terraced fields rather than concrete or string lights.
On top of that, the lessons of budding indigenous tourism destinations defaced by greed and urbanization in other provinces still stand as cautionary tales for any community tourism aspirants.
It is not easy for the vanguards like De.
“We once gain mere nourishment from the rice paddies, but now it draws in tourists and nourish their eyes. The same paddies also provide us with extra income now. It’s worth hundreds of thousands of dong, the amount that [Kinh people] use to build grand sights,” he said.
Tourists also bring new experiences, including free language lessons and exotic foods for local communities, De pointed out.
“It’s called a win-win economy. For that reason, we have to preserve the paddies, the woods, and nature. Without them, there would be no tourists. No tourists mean no fun,” De said.
“Forest and rice fields are pivotal issues to us,” said Nong Viet Uyen, secretary of the Mu Cang Chai District Party Committee.
After his appointment two years ago, Uyen has always considered the preservation of forests and terraced fields his utmost priority.
|Hmong natives in Mu Cang Chai District of Yen Bai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Quang / Tuoi Tre|
During his time in office, Uyen also learned about the art of keeping terraced fields from the indigenous community.
“Terraced fields are not only agricultural plots but also an important tool of the locals to prevent landslides,” he said.
“It also helps that the terraced fields become a visitor favorite and a driving force for local tourism.”
For the Mu Cang Chai leader Le Trong Khang, the lush and extensive forest of the locale is another thing to be proud of.
“Forest coverage of Mu Cang Chai amounts to 67 percent. Many years ago, we used to see forest fire every time we headed here from the Khau Pha Pass, but the situation has been now put under control,” he recalled.
The flavors of the woodland
Endowed with the most distinct gift of nature, Yen Bai boasts a repertoire of specialties and artisans with fine aromatic qualities, such as pomeloss in Dai Minh, cinnamon in Van Yen, green tea in Suoi Giang, or roses in Nam Khat.
“Dai Minh Commune rakes in around VND50 billion [US$2.2 million] per year from pomelo fruits, a whopping amount for a mountainous locale. It means even more when the profit does not come from the destructive operations such as sand and mineral mining,” said Ta Quang Cong, the leader of Dai Minh Commune, who has a master’s degree in environmental studies.
As of recently, the endemic pomelo of the commune has earned the VietGAP certification for good agricultural practices, which has paved the way for the product to enter big supermarket chains such as Vinmart or Big C.
This also requires the environment of the locale to be kept pristine, as the smallest indication of pollution can lead to the revocation of the certificate.
During this season, the pomelo fruits are glowing gold, effusing a delightful citrus aroma in the garden of Nguyen Van Dinh, a farmer in Dai Minh’s Minh Tan Village.
As per Minh’s estimation, the pomelo garden earns him around VND400 million ($17,000) per year, while some other gardens even make more for their owners.
Yen Bai is also known for its exceptional green tea and cinnamon products, which require a flawlessly unstained environment to develop their finest qualities.
Visitors to Yen Bai can take the opportunity to stay overnight in the tea fields of Suoi Giang Commune, looking up to the Fokienia wood roofing of Hmong people at the foot of Mount Chong Pao Mua.
These wood rooking tiles bend themselves slightly under the sun to let light beams inside the house, but will shade the house tightly against rainwater during the downpours.
Surrounded by old tea trees that soar over the roof, sensing the faint but everlasting scent of woods mixing with a tea flower aroma, with a cup of fresh green tea in hand and the flickering flames of firewood as the companion, one would understand the concept of GNH without a word spoken: it is as simple as remembering to live in the present.