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Rice Article: Vietnam  

Collector licks competition with rice
Vietnam News, September 27, 2002

HCM CITY - Two silver and three bronze medals are in the mail from Seoul after Vietnamese stamp collectors attended the World Philatelic Collection in the Republic of Korea last month.

Twenty-seven year-old Hoang Anh won bronze at the event for her collection, based around the Vietnamese staple: rice.

Anh says she chose the grain because she has loved it since she was a child.

"Rice is not only Viet Nam's major food crop, but it also goes to the very roots of Vietnamese culture," she says.

Born in the traditional wet-rice growing district of Chau Thanh in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta province of Tien Giang, Anh has always been surrounded by rice.

She likes to contemplate its beauty and hear the traditional songs about the grain - which lead her to collect stamps bearing its image.

Although she has been a philatelist for a decade, she only began collecting rice stamps three years ago.

"I began collecting stamps as a hobby, but I came to realize that it is more than just a form of entertainment," she says.

She joined the HCM City Stamp Association after she arrived in the city to study law, and met experienced collectors who showed her how to collect stamps by swapping them with other members or people on the Internet.

Philatelic experts praised the artistic value of Anh's collection, which not only included diverse images and colours, but also conveyed the different ways rice farmers work in a range of countries.

Anh's collection has five themes, such as preparing the fields, planting seeds, transplanting and rice processing in Viet Nam.

All of her stamps had detailed captions, to help viewers understand more about the subject of her collection.

"Collecting stamps has broadened my general knowledge and taught me virtues such as patience, carefulness and discipline," Anh says.

Anh says she is now moving on to other staples, such as wheat, maize and potatoes.

Three years her junior, Hai Ly loves orchids as much as Anh loves rice. Her collection features hundreds of orchids of all shapes and sizes. Her orchid stamps won her gold at the Viet Nam Philatelic Exhibition 2000.

Ly's entry in the world of philately came by chance. During a visit to the Youth Cultural House, she fell in love with its beautiful sets of stamps and began her own collection.

Like Anh and her rice, Ly has also grown up with an appreciation of orchids.

"There are many stamps featuring orchids in Viet Nam and other countries, so I couldn't possibly put all of them in my collection. I just pick the ones that are typical of each country," Ly says.

The 24-year-old philatelist says collecting helps her learn more about the world, because she has to find out more about the politics, society and culture of every country with a stamp in her collection.

Ly is now working up a collection of stamps based on traditional musical instruments, and the beautiful places of Viet Nam.

Although Vietnamese philatelists have won prizes at previous annual World Philatelic Exhibitions, this was the first time young collectors have won medals at the competition. - VNS

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