The Hanoitimes - When Tet (Lunar New Year) rolls around, ships begin to make the trip across the sea, bringing along with them necessities and spring warmth from the mainland to soldiers stationed on the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
More than 1,000 tonnes of gifts from Vietnamese induviduals and organisations nationwide were loaded onto four ships at the headquarters of Navy Zone 4 two days before the departure of the ships.
The gifts include groceries like dried vermicelli, bamboo shoots, sticky rice, candies, cookies and especially leaves to wrap traditional banh chung (square glutinous rice cakes).
The giftshave been sent to soldiers on the Truong Sa Islands.
Soldiers on the islands have also received kumquat trees – gifts from the north of the country – to decorate ancestral altars this Tet holiday.
"It is the first time that fresh flowers and kumquat have been transported to the islands, which will make the soldiers feel as if they are welcoming Tet at home on the mainland," said Nguyen Van Thinh, a senior officer of Navy Zone 4.
"We hope to bring the warmth and affection from the mainland to the islands so that every soldier will have more motivation to fulfill their duties of protecting the national sovereignty whenever spring comes," he added.
Additionally, beef, ostrich meat and more than 2,000 chung cakes from the Youth for the National Islands club were sent to soldiers.
Despite countless difficulties and shortages, the lives of soldiers on Truong Sa archipelago have gradually been improving.
Soldiers have also made chung cakes from the leaves of almond trees, a typical tree on the islands.
According to Le Duy Hien, a lieutenant stationed on Sinh Ton island, such activity has become a tradition on the island that dates back to the days when transportation was limited.
He said the cakes wrapped in almond leaves have a greener colour and a lightly bitter taste. "They are very delicious and have the typical taste of the Truong Sa archipelago that cannot be found elsewhere," he told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Soldiers were recently provided with more TV sets that receive satellite waves and a more wide-spread telephone network, so they have been able to access more updated information on the economy, politics, cultural activities and sports in both Vietnam and abroad.