Tran Nguyen Ngoc Trang

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Gracious Luang Prabang

The riverside town of Luang Prabang offers a tranquil Buddhist atmosphere, elegant traditional Lao architecture and some of the best –preserved colonial buildings in Indochina

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

My flight arrived to in Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos, in the early evening. Greeting me was a red sun setting over the mighty Mekong river. The Mekong and the Nam Khan embrace the town and steep mountains encircle it, as if to protect Luang Prabang from the outside world.

For 500 years Luang Prabang was the capital of Laos, the “Land of a Million Elephants”. This legacy has left dozens of pagodas, shrines and palaces, along with more than 600 wooden houses on the ancient Lao style. Laotians regard Luang Prabang as their country’s soul. Indeed, it feels as though the old kingdom’s spirit still lingers there, in the sound of the tocsins, in the saffron robes of the monks… The landscape is so dreamy that time seems to have slowed here.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

It is said that the quintessense of Lao architecture is condensed within the pagoda of Wat Xieng Thoong. This pagoda, the name of which means “Golden city”, is neither grandiose nor imposing, yet possesses a fascinating beauty. Its subtly curving layers of roof tops, its carvings and relieves, its gold and silver decorations, and the gemstones-and-glass mosaic shining under tropical sunlight never fail to leave visistors stunned. One can not help but admire the pagoda’s sophistication and the skill of the craftsmen who made it.

A mere 29 km from the city center lie the jade-green Kuang Si Falls. The waterfalls have many levels. Surrounded by immense trees, the falls form perfect natural pools for those seeking refreshment. Another must-see in Luang Prabang is Mount Phousi, reportedly the best spot in Laos to watch the sunset. Every day a crowd of quiet visitors gathers here, surrounded by the scent of frangipani blossoms. Camera in hand, they try to capture the last rays of sunlight on the distant mountain ranges.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang has inherited an architectural fusion of East and West. Alongside traditional wooden houses stand colonial French style villas, original or renovated to a high level of luxury and style. The town’s authentic cultural value, which is increasingly hard to find in today’s world, is drawing more and more visitors. Each year tourists outnumber locals by four to one. Downtown and in the open air night market (open 5Pm to 10pm), foreigners are the majority. Though restaurants, shops and spa abound, the quality of most services is not yet up to international standards.

Sitting in a riverside restaurant eating a local delicacy of barbecued fish, a Lao friend of mine confided: “Luang Prabang is changing fast. I don’t know if our culture will remain intact for long. And tourism facilities are not very well -planned and organized. We Laotians are too modest and content with our lives… “His words make me worry. Can this special town retain its beauty?

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

Upon bidding farewell to the “Land of a Million Elephants”, I bought an antique bronze elephant from the night market. The elephant lifts its front leg and curves its trunk in a salute, as if inviting me to return one day.

Let children explore the game on their own at the outset because their attention span is very short.

If children are blithely unaware of the game’s frustrations and think that it’s all a joy then they are learning the game the right way.

Teaching young children is a privilege and a huge responsibility. The challenge is to cultivate their skills while sustaining their interest and preserving the joy.

A few points to achieve this:

Youngsters just want to have fun. Let them explore the game on their own at the outset. Follow them around and explain the things they’re curious about. The rule of thumb is this: You are the to do what they want to do, not what you want them to do.

Do more playing than teaching. A 6-year-old’s attention span is excruciatingly short. They don’t really focus until the ball is on the tee, waiting to be struck. With that, the lesson should not last longer than 30 minutes. Furthermore, the 30 minutes should be broken down into 10 minutes of actual teaching and 20 minutes of playing.

Communicate on their level. Everything you say should be expressed at the child’s level, and I mean that literally. Don’t stand when you talk; kneel down and look the child in the eye. Watch what you say, and how you say it. Rather than say “wide arc,” I say “big circle.” Instead of a “descending blow”, I say “thumb the ground”. I don’t say “pivot,” I say “turn”. Children must comprehend an idea before they can execute it.

Tee it up. To establish an early pattern of success, I insist on teeing the ball on every shot with every club.

Visual is better than verbal. Don’t explain the point, show it. Most children initially hold the club with a very weak left-hand grip. Instead of saying aim the “V” at the right shoulder, I mark the youngster’s fingers with a line or dots and tell them where it should point.

Safety first, last and always. In golf, the consequences of a misstep can be dire. Use these 2 main points to ensure safety: keep the youngster in your line of sight at all times. On the range, young students should occupy the bay in front of you, never the one behind. Drawn an imaginary line three feet in front of the spot the student is hitting from, and tell them, as emphatically as possible, never to walk in front of it.

There is no such thing as criticism. In a child’s world, events are classified as either “fun”  or “not fun”. Criticism is not fun. It implied the child did something wrong, as opposed to merely doing something incorrectly. In golf as in life, the path forward is paved with praise. If they hit a good shot, you say “good shot”. If they hit a bad shot, you say, “good swing”. When you detect a flaw, you challenge them to make the correct move without verbally indentifying the bad one.

A Labor of Love

I am so grateful to Henri Oger and to the experts who have reprinted his book, 100 years after it was first published. At the tender age of 24, Mr. Oger came to Vietnam to do his military service. From 1908 to 1909, the young man studied the streets of Hanoi and outlying areas to record an inventory of the development of local industries and commerce. Aided by a Vietnamese painter and some assistants, Mr. Oger’s research produced around 4,200 drawings and sketches printed on homemade do paper. While just 60 copies of Mr. Ogers book were printed, the work’s value is finally being recognized.

Over 30 years ago I had the chance to see a small-sized copy of Mr. Oger’s work printed on low-quality paper, some pages of which were missing. At that moment, I was told that it was an illustrated encyclopedia. There was no introduction about the book’s creator. I found a brief biography that stated: Henri Oger, an old student from L’E’cole Coloniale and L’E’cole Pratique des Hautes E’tudes, collected documents in Hanoi from 1908-1909.

This summary does not begin to reflect the magnitude of Mr. Oger’s work. Despite his youth, Mr. Oger was talented, well trained and proficient in the Vietnamese language and Chinese characters. Most important of all, the young man was thirsty for knowledge and highly determined. Despite opposition, during just two years he and his assistants created more than 4,000 sketches of Vietnamese workers. Topics included working with nature (agriculture, fishing, hunting, transportation and gathering, etc.); manufacturing with natural materials (making paper, metalwork, pottery making, woodcarving, making, weapons, bamboo work, processing fruits, making textiles, leatherwork, etc.); and working with processed materials (printing, lacquer painting, making religious objects, cooking, tailoring, construction, interior decoration, equipment, etc.). He also recorded images depicting Annamite society, with topics ranging from musical instruments to traditional medicines to fortune telling, festivals, toys and folk arts.

Even with a large investment and a great deal of assistance, this task would be daunting. In just two years and working with minimal support, Mr. Oger’s achievements ethnology, I well understand the difficulties of studying, collecting and collating this material. The creation of this book required meticulous scientific methods. As an example, Mr. Oger’s account of making do paper is so detailed that one could create this handmade paper by following the steps outlined in his book.

Opening the book, I could feel the past coming alive:  a street vendor here, a craftsman there, a hired digger on his way to work, traders earning their livelihoods… Once again, I wish to express my gratitude and reverence and say, “Bonjour Monsieur Henri Oger”

One hundred years after its publication, a second edition of the book Techniques du Peuple Annmites) by Frenchman Henri Oger has been released. Containing more than 4,200 illustrations, this book gives a remarkably clear view of life in Hanoi at the turn of the 20th century.

Building Self-Confidence

From the quietly confident doctor whose advice we rely on, to the charismatic confidence of an inspiring speaker, self-confident people have qualities that everyone admires.

Self-confidence is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives, yet so many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can be a vicious circle: People who lack self-confidence can find it difficult to become successful.

After all, most people are reluctant to back a project that’s being pitched by someone who was nervous, fumbling and overly apologetic.

On the other hand, you might be persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, who holds his or her head high, who answers questions assuredly, and who readily admits when he or she does not know something.

Self-confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success.

The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned and built on. And, whether you’re working on your own self-confidence or building the confidence of people around you, it’s well-worth the effort!

So how confident do you seem to others?

Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on. Look at the following comparisons of common confident behavior with behavior associated with low self-confidence. Which thoughts or actions do you recognize in yourself and people around you?


Low Self-Confidence

Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.

Governing your behavior based on what other people think.

Being willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve better things.

Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure and so avoid taking risks.

Admitting your mistakes, and learning from them.

Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.

Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.

Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.

Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”

Dismissing compliments offhandedly. “Oh that prospectus was nothing really, anyone could have done it.”

As you can see from these examples, low self-confidence can be self-destructive, and it often manifests itself as negativity. Self-confident people are generally more positive – they believe in themselves and their abilities, and they also believe in living life to the full.

What is Self-Confidence?

Two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem.

We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.

This overlaps with the idea of self-esteem, which is a more general sense that we can cope with what’s going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. Partly, this comes from a feeling that the people around us approve of us, which we may or may not be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we’re competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.

Some people believe that self-confidence can be built with affirmations and positive thinking. At Mind Tools, we believe that there’s some truth in this, but that it’s just as important to build self-confidence by setting and achieving goals – thereby building competence. Without this underlying competence, you don’t have self-confidence: you have shallow over-confidence, with all of the issues, upset and failure that this brings.

Building Self-Confidence

So how do you build this sense of balanced self-confidence, founded on a firm appreciation of reality?

The bad news is that there’s no quick fix, or 5-minute solution.

The good news is that building self-confidence is readily achievable, just as long as you have the focus and determination to carry things through. And what’s even better is that the things you’ll do to build self-confidence will also build success – after all, your confidence will come from real, solid achievement. No-one can take this away from you!

So here are our three steps to self-confidence, for which we’ll use the metaphor of a journey: preparing for your journey; setting out; and accelerating towards success.

Step 1: Preparing for Your Journey

The first step involves getting yourself ready for your journey to self-confidence. You need to take stock of where you are, think about where you want to go, get yourself in the right mindset for your journey, and commit yourself to starting it and staying with it.

In preparing for your journey, do these five things:

Look at what you’ve already achieved:

Think about your life so far, and list the ten best things you’ve achieved in an “Achievement Log.” Perhaps you came top in an important test or exam, played a key role in an important team, produced the best sales figures in a period, did something that made a key difference in someone else’s life, or delivered a project that meant a lot for your business.

Put these into a smartly formatted document, which you can look at often. And then spend a few minutes each week enjoying the success you’ve already had!

Think about your strengths:

Next, use a technique like SWOT Analysis (explore personal SWOT Analysis here) to take a look at who and where you are. Looking at your Achievement Log, and reflecting on your recent life, think about what your friends would consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. From these, think about the opportunities and threats you face.

Make sure that you enjoy a few minutes reflecting on your strengths!

Think about what’s important to you, and where you want to go:

Next, think about the things that are really important to you, and what you want to achieve with your life.

Setting and achieving goals is a key part of this, and real self-confidence comes from this. Goal setting is the process you use to set yourself targets, and measure your successful hitting of those targets. See our article on goal setting to find out how to use this important technique, or use our Life Plan Workbook to think through your own goals in detail (see “Tip” below).

Inform your goal setting with your SWOT Analysis. Set goals that exploit your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, realize your opportunities, and control the threats you face.

And having set the major goals in your life, identify the first step in each. A tip: Make sure it’s a very small step, perhaps taking no more than an hour to complete!

Start managing your mind:

At this stage, you need to start managing your mind. Learn to pick up and defeat the negative self-talk which can destroy your confidence. See our article on rational positive thinking to find out how to do this.

Further useful reading includes our article on imagery – this teaches you how to use and create strong mental images of what you’ll feel and experience as you achieve your major goals – there’s something about doing this that makes even major goals seem achievable!

And then commit yourself to success!

The final part of preparing for the journey is to make a clear and unequivocal promise to yourself that you are absolutely committed to your journey, and that you will do all in your power to achieve it.

If as you’re doing it, you find doubts starting to surface, write them down and challenge them calmly and rationally. If they dissolve under scrutiny, that’s great. However if they are based on genuine risks, make sure you set additional goals to manage these appropriately. For help with evaluating and managing the risks you face, read our Risk Analysis and Management article.

Either way, make that promise!

Tip: Balanced Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is about balance. At one extreme, we have people with low self-confidence. At the other end, we have people who may be over-confident.

If you are under-confident, you’ll avoid taking risks and stretching yourself; and you might not try at all. And if you’re over-confident, you may take on too much risk, stretch yourself beyond your capabilities, and crash badly. You may also find that you’re so optimistic that you don’t try hard enough to truly succeed.

Getting this right is a matter of having the right amount of confidence, founded in reality and on your true ability. With the right amount of self-confidence, you will take informed risks, stretch yourself (but not beyond your abilities) and try hard.

So How Self Confident Are You? Take our short quiz to find out how self-confident you are already, and start looking at specific strategies to improve your confidence level.

Step 2: Setting Out

This is where you start, ever so slowly, moving towards your goal. By doing the right things, and starting with small, easy wins, you’ll put yourself on the path to success – and start building the self-confidence that comes with this.

Build the knowledge you need to succeed:

Looking at your goals, identify the skills you’ll need to achieve them. And then look at how you can acquire these skills confidently and well. Don’t just accept a sketchy, just-good-enough solution – look for a solution, a program or a course that fully equips you to achieve what you want to achieve and, ideally, gives you a certificate or qualification you can be proud of.

Focus on the basics:

When you’re starting, don’t try to do anything clever or elaborate. And don’t reach for perfection – just enjoy doing simple things successfully and well.

Set small goals, and achieve them:

Starting with the very small goals you identified in step 1, get in the habit of setting them, achieving them, and celebrating that achievement. Don’t make goals particularly challenging at this stage, just get into the habit of achieving them and celebrating them. And, little by little, start piling up the successes!

Keep managing your mind:

Stay on top of that positive thinking, keep celebrating and enjoying success, and keep those mental images strong. You can also use a technique like Treasure Mapping to make your visualizations even stronger!

And on the other side, learn to handle failure. Accept that mistakes happen when you’re trying something new. In fact, if you get into the habit of treating mistakes as learning experiences, you can (almost) start to see them in a positive light. After all, there’s a lot to be said for the saying “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger!”

Step 3: Accelerating Towards Success

By this stage, you’ll feel your self-confidence building. You’ll have completed some of the courses you started in step 2, and you’ll have plenty of success to celebrate!

This is the time to start stretching yourself. Make the goals a bit bigger, and the challenges a bit tougher. Increase the size of your commitment. And extend the skills you’ve proven into new, but closely related arenas.

Tip 1:
Keep yourself grounded – this is where people tend to get over-confident and over-stretch themselves. And make sure you don’t start enjoying cleverness for its own sake…

Tip 2:
If you haven’t already looked at it, use our How Self Confident Are You? quiz to find out how self-confident you are, and to identify specific strategies for building self-confidence.

As long as you keep on stretching yourself enough, but not too much, you’ll find your self-confidence building apace. What’s more, you’ll have earned your self-confidence – because you’ll have put in the hard graft necessary to be successful!













Tran Nguyen Ngoc Trang

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AsianTour expands to Vietnam

Carlsberg, one of the largest brewery groups in the world as well as in Vietnam , will title sponsor the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam, a new event which will bring together the best players from the Asian Tour.

The inaugural Carlsberg Masters Vietnam will be staged from November 4-7 at Chi Linh Star Golf and Country Club in Hanoi where Asia ‘s finest will shoot for US$200,000 in total prize money. Carlsberg has signed a three-year contract with the Asian Tour.

“We are delighted to announce Carlsberg’s title sponsorship of a new and exciting event, the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam. Golf in this country is still very much at a developing stage, but it is in a strong growth and this is why we are committed to help the game grow in Vietnam . This new event is going to be the biggest sporting event in Vietnam this year and will put Vietnam on the international golfing map,” said South East Asia Brewery Ltd. General Director Henrik J. Andersen.

“Carlsberg has been an avid supporter of international golf for years and this latest commitment is one which we are very hopeful will create a significant impact on the Asian Tour,” added Andersen.

With the inaugural event slated towards the tail-end of the season, the leading contenders for the Asian Tour Order of Merit crown are expected to converge in Vietnam to boost their chances of finishing as the Asian number one.

The Carlsberg Masters Vietnam will also be supported by the Hilton Hanoi Opera, the Official Hotel, and a number of other co-sponsors yet to be announced.

Chi Linh Star Golf and Country Club Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doan Van An said the club is proud to be associated with the event. “The launch of a new professional tournament in Vietnam is very exciting indeed. It will further boost the popularity of golf in our country and Chi Linh Star is delighted to be a part of this tremendous development.

“It is our ambition to see the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam enjoy a successful start and grow into one of the top events in the region. We will ensure that our golf course is at its best condition for the players in November,” said Doan.

Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han welcomed the new tournament, saying it was a breakthrough development for the players and also for the game in Vietnam .

“It is a tremendous development for the Asian Tour, one which I am confident will boost the popularity of golf in Vietnam and I would like to express our appreciation to Carlsberg and Chi Linh Star Golf and Country Club for sponsoring this new tournament.

“With the launch of the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam, I’m sure we will see more players from the country taking up the game. We are all very excited about the event and our players are fully supportive of this initiative.

“It is wonderful that Carlsberg has committed to a three-year agreement to stage the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam and the Asian Tour will look at ways to help the event grow and assist in the development of local players,” said Han.

To help boost the domestic golf scene, organisers have allocated several spots for local amateur players at the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam. Andersen said this move will help players gain exposure as they could tee up alongside the likes of current Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee, Zhang Liang-wei of China and India’s Jyoti Randhawa.

The first nine holes at Chi Linh Star Golf Club was opened for play in Hanoi November 2003, with the second nine scheduled to be ready in June 2004. It has already received widespread acclaim and another 18 holes are being planned at the site which lies within a beautiful valley and surrounded by rolling forest hills, and nestles beside a large lake.

Check out my Slide Show!

Boost Your Self-Esteem

By Rachel Lochen

Boost your-self esteem

Heathy and happiness

 A healthy self-esteem is necessary when you want to be a positive, healthy person. So what determines how much self-esteem we have? Most of us naturally think that the major factor is how other people view us. And if you let other people’s opinions of you shape who you are, then “most of us” are correct. But, what’s more important is our vision of ourselves. We must like the person we see in the mirror. And whether you like that person or not is, ultimately, your choice. So, try these tips to increase your self-esteem:

    • Do things that you love.
    • Don’t put yourself down.
    • Compliment your strengths.
    • Accepts compliments from others.
    • Be a friend to someone who needs one.
    • Hang out with positive people.