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Vietnam Shares Beauty, History

March 13, 1994|BETTY MARTIN

VIETNAM (International Video Network, Video Visits, 54 minutes, 1993) .

Viewers get a rare portrait of Vietnam, a beautiful and intriguing country with much to attract American tourists and veterans, who are met with warmth and enthusiasm.

Maps and a narration filled with myths, legends and ancient and modern history take viewers from the northern capital of Hanoi on the Hong (Red) River Delta, which opens onto the Tonkin Gulf, south to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the Mekong River Delta. Conversations with the people and reminders of the legacy of foreign occupation, along with geographical and climatic conditions, help explain cultural differences between north and south Vietnam.

A tour of Hanoi opens with a Tet holiday festival and images of rice cultivation along the delta. There are scenes of Hanoi University, with a discussion of the influence of Confucius on education; the historic Long Bien Bridge across the Hong River; the Thong Nhat (Metropole) Hotel; the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," where American prisoners of war were held; the opera house; the French Governor's Palace, and the burial site of "Uncle Ho" (Ho Chi Minh) in Ba Dinh Square. Viewers hear the story of his life illustrated with old film clips.

A scenic journey over the cloud-covered Hai Van Pass between Hue and Da Nang in central Vietnam takes viewers to Da Nang's Cham Museum, which houses relics from the 2nd-Century Kingdom of Champa; to Marble Mountain, honeycombed with cave shrines, and to the beautiful Huyen Khong Grotto that served as a field hospital during the war.

A tour of Hue, along the Perfume River, includes pagodas, the Golden Buddha and the Nguyen Dynasty Citadel, a city within a city. Viewers attend a traditional musical show and watch a performance of water puppets.

North of Hue, a series of tunnels called Binh Moc reveal where Vietnamese refugees hid during the war.

In Ho Chi Minh City, viewers see war relics such as artillery and old uniforms and visit Madame Dai's Bibliotheque, an exclusive restaurant housed in her former law office.

The narrator covers such things as Ho Chi Minh City's economy, religion, fashions and artisans and artists. Other stops include Chinatown, the Ben Thanh hotel (formerly the Rex) and the Dong Khoi (formerly the Continental), where foreign guests can stay again.

Tapes are available from International Video Network, 2246 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, Calif. 94583; telephone (800) 669-4486. Price: $24.95 (plus tax and postage).


SCOTLAND (Rand McNally Video Traveler Collection, 37 minutes, 1993).

The role that kilts, Scotch whiskey, bagpipes and golf play in the economy and lifestyle of Scotland are illustrated in this video against a background of beautiful mist-covered lochs, rivers, lush green pastureland and historic cities.

Viewers are introduced to the country by visiting the famous St. Andrew's golf course, one of more than 400 in the land, followed by an interview with a bagpiper and a tour of a small factory in which bagpipes are made.

In Glasgow, city scenes include street musicians playing in George Square, the city center, with its magnificent Victorian buildings. There's a visit to Loch Lomond and side trips to the isles of Skye, with its misty mountains, and Shetland, where Shetland ponies are raised.

A tour of the port town of Berdeen includes colorful scenes of an award-winning garden, a fish market and examples of castles and other buildings made from local granite.

On the way to Inverness the video visits Aberlour on Spey, the home of Walkers Shortbread Bakery; Dufftown, site of Glenfiddich, a Scotch whiskey distillery, and Loch Ness, to hear the story of the elusive monster. On the shores of the loch are the ruins of Urquhart Castle. North of Inverness, there's a stop at Culloden Battlefield, where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated by the British in 1746.

A segment described by a tailor illustrates the art of kilt making and the significance of its accessories.

Rural scenes include the moors and rugged peaks of the north; the lakes, mountains and pastureland of the south Borders area, where sheep and border collies are a common sight, and a visit to a nearby woolen mill.

A tour of Edinburgh includes the castle, the High Kirk of St. Giles, a trip down the Royal Mile that extends from the castle to the Queen's residence at Holyrood House, and scenes along the shopping area of Princes Street.

This is one of International Video Network's Video Visits aimed at the budget-minded viewer. It is available through them at 2242 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, Calif. 94583; tel. (800) 669-4486. Price: $9.95 (plus taxes and postage).

Videos appears monthly.

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