|Three of the winners of the “What do you know about Vietnam 2020?” contest - Rabi Sankar Bosu of India (third from right), C.R. Nurdin of Indonesia (third from left), and Rudy Hartono of Indonesia (second from left) - at the award ceremony at VOV5's office in Hanoi on December 27, 2022. They were joined by VOV’s Vice President Ngo Minh Hien (second from right), VOVWorld Director Nguyen Tien Long (C), VOVWorld’s Deputy Director Pho Cam Hoa (first from right), and VOV’s International Cooperation Department Director Nguyen Thuy Hoa (first from left).
My Vietnam story dates back to nearly 37 years ago when on one rain-soaked midsummer evening of 1985, I happened to pick up the English broadcasts of the Voice of Vietnam (VOV). Since then, my long association with the VOVWorld-English broadcasts and other Vietnamese media outlets has generated my strong interest in Vietnam.
By reading news reports on the website of VOVWorld media platforms every day, I have integrated myself into Vietnamese culture and have been enjoying it, living far away from Hanoi. I have also been a promoter of Indo-Vietnamese friendship for more than 37 years.
I was one of the winners of the “What do you know about Vietnam?” contest which was organized for the 75th founding anniversary of the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) in 2020. The contest took me for a five-day trip to Vietnam along with 3rd prize winner Mr. C. R. Nurdin and consolation prize winner Mr. Rudy Hartono, both from Indonesia from December 26, 2022.
On December 26, I disembarked at the imposing Noi Bai International Airport. VOV’s International Cooperation Department (ICD) Officer Ms. Tran Thanh Hai welcomed me. She always took special care of me during the trip that made me feel at home far away from home.
My trip was scheduled to VOV Headquarter in Hanoi, VOVWorld5 Channel, the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum on Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province, Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh province and the local markets. Needless to say, my five days' happy sojourn on Vietnamese soil is always treasured exclusively in my heart of hearts forever.
On our second day on December 27, Ms. Tran Thanh Hai took me to the VOVWorld Headquarters in Hanoi for a VOVTV interview and then I visited the VOV5's building in Hanoi for the award ceremony and it is this VOVWorld that made Vietnam feel like my second home. I shall ever remember the surprise, excitement and anticipation I encountered that day. I and two other prize winners got a warm welcome at the VOVWorld office.
|Rabi Sankar Bosu, Founder and President of New Horizon Radio Listeners' Club, West Bengal, India, in VOVWorld’s studio.
We met VOVWorld Director Mr. Nguyen Tien Long, VOV’s Vice President Mr. Ngo Minh Hien, VOVWorld’s Deputy Director Mrs. Pho Cam Hoa, VOV Head of North-east of Asia Section Mr. Luu Anh Tuan and VOV’s International Cooperation Department (ICD) Director Mrs. Nguyen Thuy Hoa.
Mr. Tien Long and Mr. Minh Hien presented us with honorary certificates and prizes of the “What do you know about Vietnam 2020?” contest and some VOV souvenirs during the hour long award ceremony. To me the meeting with top VOV leaders and staff seemed just like a minister-level meeting which we usually see on the TV.
I felt honored when Mr. Long and Mr. Hien called me and other winners “true ambassadors of VOV and Vietnam”. I saw our VOVWorld English presenters face to face whose voices were quite familiar to me. Top VOV dignitaries and all the staff of VOV5 English Service including VOV5’s English Channel’s Editor Mrs. Nguyen Cam Thi, Mr. Vu Nhat Quynh ( Head of VOV5 English Service), Ms. Dang Mai Phuong (Deputy Head of VOV5 English Service), Ms. Phuong Khanh Lee (Host of VOV5 English Service) showed me the whole section of VOV5's English Department and other sections with a friendly gesture.
I was very much impressed to feel the warmth and candour of Ms. Phuong Khanh, Ms. Dang Mai Phuong, Mr. Vu Nhat Quynh and other VOV English staff that made me so welcomed. In a cordial atmosphere, I exchanged my views with VOV English presenters about the spreading of VOV English broadcasting to the grassroots level in India. After the end of the award ceremony, we had a lavish lunch full of Vietnamese traditional food (of course, with red wine and beer) with VOV's leaders and staff. My interaction with VOV leaders and presenters left an everlasting memory which shall be remembered and cherished forever.
|Rabi Sankar Bosu, C.R. Nurdin, and Rudy Hartono in front of President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
During my stay in the beautiful capital city of Vietnam, I had the good fortune of visiting the well-known historical sites of Vietnam’s first university, the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam ) and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the middle of Ba Dinh Square which is the largest square in Vietnam.
The Mausoleum was inaugurated in 1975. Notably, late President Ho read the Declaration of Independence at the Ba Dinh Square on September 2, 1945, giving birth to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The embalmed body of President Ho is preserved at the Mausoleum after his death on September 2, 1969. There is a Monument to Fallen Soldiers next to the National Assembly Hall of Vietnam. President Ho’s immortal words- “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom” is written on the Mausoleum.
Ms. Hai informed me that Vietnam’s National Flag is hoisted and lowered in front of the Mausoleum each day. Standing in front of the Mausoleum, I realized how much the Vietnamese people are associated with their glorious history and the pride they feel about what the Vietnamese Party and government constructed for them to pay tribute to their revered late President Ho who devoted his whole life to Vietnam’s glorious victories and to build a brighter future for all Vietnamese people.
|Rabi Sankar Bosu, C.R. Nurdin, and Rudy Hartono at Ha Long Bay, December 28, 2022.
As part of our trip to Hanoi, on December 28, I and two other winners went to the Ha Long Bay (literally means the bay of a descending dragon) in the northern province of Quang Ninh on a cruise ship with Ms. Hai.
Ha Long Bay which was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage in 1994 and 2000 is a breathtakingly beautiful place of natural beauty.
Really I got lost in the tranquility and marvelous scenery of the Ha Long Bay with its myriad of limestone islands, mountains and natural caves. On the cold windy day, the more we headed to the mountainous Bay, the more I was amazed to see the awe-inspiring rocky cliffs and beautiful landscape.
The green mountains of various shapes and sizes rising from the bottom of the blue waters that span the horizon looked very beautiful and magical. These thousand-year old limestone hills standing in silence have increased the beauty of the bay. We were passing around these mountains.
Our ship anchored in one such mountain. We climbed the stairs and reached a beautiful natural cave. The unique natural stone works from the roof of the cave filled my heart with awe and wonder.
Standing on the open deck of the cruise, Ms. Hai (VOV-ICD) took a brief interview with me. On the cruise I enjoyed the authentic Vietnamese seafood with beer to my heart’s content. Quite frankly, it was a dream come true to visit the Ha Long Bay. I hope more Indian tourists will pay visits to Ha Long Bay that can boost people-to-people diplomacy between our two countries.
|Rabi Sankar Bosu sits on a bamboo cot at the Trang An Tourism Complex.
During the short period of time in Hanoi, we paid a full-day visit to the UNESCO-recognized Trang An Tourism Complex in northern Ninh Binh province.
I enjoyed an enchanting boat ride on the massive lake. I was totally enthralled to see limestone karsts, colossal caves and pagodas around the Trang An Tourism Complex. It’s impossible for me to describe in words the exotic beauty while going through the natural caves by boat.
As the boat moved along the curved path over the clear-blue lake, the hanging rocks of the natural caves hang dangerously overhead. Awesome mountains and blue water against light and shadowy atmosphere go hand in hand here.
Rowing through the caves on the small bamboo boat, I realized that nature has bestowed Vietnam with the choicest scenic beauty. Sitting on the boat embracing the cold winds, I feel a certain kind of adrenaline rushing through my veins. The experience full of unparalleled beauty and thrill cannot be described in words. “The blue waters call, and the gigantic caves call, and oh! the call of nature!” We savored the flavors of local dishes at a local restaurant. My visit to Trang An Tourism Complex will remain as an unforgettable experience of my life.
|Rabi Sankar Bosu, C.R. Nurdin, and Rudy Hartono enjoy a boat ride at the Trang An Tourism Complex.
Each evening in Hanoi, I strolled on the streets alone in order to buy some gifts and memorabilia of Vietnam for my family members and radio club members and met a range of people from the exotic land. I also enjoyed bargaining with shopkeepers even though it was difficult to converse with vendors in English. Although, I did find Vietnamese people to be very honest, friendly and extremely hard working. Many places where I went, the amicable behavior of the Vietnamese people with endearing smiles made me realize the old saying "delighted to welcome friends from afar."
I only spent five days in Hanoi, and I knew I had only scratched the surface on this great city. I was impressed to see the facilities that are available for tourists. Wherever I went, I found the restaurants were full of beautiful ladies. The reminiscence of Hanoi would be incomplete without mentioning the delicacies that I gulped down like the old proverb "to devour ravenously". Ms. Hai and Ms. Trieu Vy Nguyen (VOV-ICD) helped me and two other winners to have the best Vietnamese traditional food.
|Rabi Sankar Bosu at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
Even though the traffic was a little bit congested in , the roads were too clean. I saw lots of residents ride electric bicycles and an adequate number of four wheelers in Hanoi's streets. The toilets in tourist spots are among the cleanest public toilets I've ever seen. I saw most of the Vietnamese young girls and ladies enjoy life with their boyfriends (husbands!) while returning from work. It is widely seen that young couples and lovers have adopted the Western-style of kissing openly on the streets, parks and crowded restaurants. It's really fantastic!
My brief stay in Hanoi ended on December 30. My visit to Vietnam was a short trip, but very impressive with sweet memories. When the Thai Smile Airlines flight took off from the Noi Bai International Airport to India, looking down at Hanoi from the blue sky, I said that I had left a part of me in Vietnam. Preciously speaking, my visit to Vietnam is worth cherishing as I witnessed the vicissitudes of Vietnamese society. I hope my relationship with the VOVWorld will be a long and informative one. May the cultural and people to people friendship between our two countries-India and Vietnam continue to thrive.