Troi Oi! January 2016 Edition

USD70-USD100 per kilogram for one Da Lak farmer’s “elephant coffee,” which will be distributed throughout the country starting 2016. Dang Nang Long, who owns the largest herd of domestic elephants in Vietnam’s central highlands region, discovered that his elephants enjoyed ripened coffee beans when taking them to graze in the forest. Initially, he thought nothing of this revelation, but while on holiday with his wife in Thailand in 2012 he saw the locals enjoying elephant coffee, which was priced at around USD1,000 per kilo. Long and his wife received their elephant coffee brand registration certificate from the Intellectual Property Bureau of Vietnam in early 2015. To create elephant coffee, Ba first feeds the animals pineapple, sugarcane and bananas. This encourages the formation of a special type of digestive enzyme that imparts a distinctive flavor and smoothness to the finished brew. After a few days of this diet, the elephants are fed 20-50kg of coffee beans per meal. After two days of digestion, the elephants discharge around a kilogram of beans for every three ingested, and workers pick through the animal’s dung to collect the valuable beans. The beans are washed with mineral water and wine and then left outside for 24 hours to absorb sunlight and moisture. The beans are then roasted in chicken fat in cast iron pans before being ground to finish the process.

VND100 BILLION mansion and villa complex will be dismantled in Da Nang, after authorities refused to consider the plea of the tycoon who built the illegal property. Ngo Van Quang, director of a gold company based in Quang Nam Province, built the complex at the foot of Hai Van Mountain without any permit, and has repeatedly delayed court orders to dismantle the property, winning repeated approvals to extend the deadline set for dismantling. The property was constructed in 2013, and was discovered in early 2014 alongside a 4,000-hectare villa built without permission by a Major-General. More than a hundred workers will take at least six months to dismantle the villa complex, which consists of five wooden houses and 13 other houses in a leafy walled compound.

0 fees will be paid by students living at or below the poverty line who study at universities, colleges and vocational schools. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently approved a proposal that will see poor students have their educational fees waived and that will also provide financial assistance for travel and essentials. From early 2016, beneficiaries will receive VND1 million per year for purchasing essentials such as school books, pens and pencils, and VND2-VND3 million for travel expenses with an additional VND150,000 for Tet expenses. Disabled students, high school graduates who lived in boarding schools for ethnic minorities and students who live in disadvantaged areas or ethnic minority regions are also eligible for the benefits. The program will help address high dropout rates in rural areas.

2,000 year-old Dong Son drum has been found in Timor Leste. The Vietnamese Dong Son culture existed between 700BC to around 100AD, and was the last great culture of Van Lang (the name of Vietnam during that period). The Dong Son people traded and spread their influence across Southeast Asia, and the large Dong Son drums are their most lasting cultural heritage. The bronze drums can weigh more than 100kgs, and are intricately decorated with geometric patterns, animals, boats and scenes of daily life. The drums were both musical instruments and cult objects, important in the social and martial rituals of the Dong Son people. The drum unearthed in Timor Leste measures more than a meter in diameter, and weighs 80kgs, and was discovered during construction efforts. It is one of the best-preserved Dong Son drums ever discovered, and will soon be sent to France where sophisticated dating techniques will determine its precise age.

18,000 ton jack-up drilling rig launched in Ba Ria, Vung Tau. The Tam Dam 05 oil rig, financed by Vietsovpetro and built by PetroVietnam Marine Shipyard JSC (PV shipyard), is the largest locally-produced jack-up rig yet launched in Vietnam. Tam Dam 05 cost around USD230 million, measures 70.4 meters in length, 76.2 meters in width, and 9.4 meters in height, and can drill in 120-meter-deep water to a depth of 9 kilometers, and can withstand Category 12 storms. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai spoke warmly of the launch of the rig, and the development of Vietnam’s industrial prowess. Hoang Trung Hai said that it demonstrated Vietnam’s capacity in heavy industry, and hoped that it would stimulate growth in other sectors, as well as hoping that PV shipyard and the domestic oil-manufacturing sector expand their reach to foreign markets. The rig will become operational after a further nine months of construction, furnishing and testing.

VND100 MILLION was paid to own a high-quality hunting shotgun. Many people supplement market bought produce with fishing in Saigon’s many waterways, or hunting and trap setting in the more vegetated parts of the city, but hunting for sport is also growing popular among wealthier residents of the city. Most weapons sold in Vietnam utilize compressed air, and prices start at around VND20 million, but Saigon is home to a number of dealers in high-end weaponry, whose rifles and shotguns can cost several thousand dollars. Nguyen Xuan Luu, head of the Ho Chi Minh City Forest Ranging Department, says that the use of shotguns to hunt animals is strictly illegal, and poses a serious hazard to human life. The Forest Ranging Department does not, however, have the authority to confiscate such weapons. The production and use of firearms can be punishable under Governmental Decree 167, with a fine of up to VND4 million, while repeat offenders can face imprisonment.

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