Quan ho, a northern Vietnamese folk song tradition, has been chosen by the TIME magazine as one of 16 best experiences from Asia this year and among the six best experiences "for the soul."
The Best of Asia 2010 list published on May 13 referred to quan ho as "traditional ballads of young love and homesick soldiers" which has been struggling for years to live "in the face of pop music and karaoke."
Last year, the singing tradition from Bac Ninh Province was recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage. With many new performing troupes and elders training a new generation of signers, quan ho has been saved from extinction.
The singers have made many attempts to revive their singing, including publishing their contact numbers so anyone can now call for a song. TIME called it the "best request line".
"If a foreigner calls for a song, they can simply say quan ho, and I will sing, we will all sing," Nguyen Thi Quynh, director of the Dang Xa village club (84-1683-520-628), told the magazine.
Hoa Dinh village club (84-95-372-3234) and the Dao Xa village club (84-97-633-5601) will also perform on telephonic demand.
Other best Asian experiences in the annual list include bullfights in South Korea, driving pumboats in Singapore, Derge Parkhang one of the last traditional printing presses in ethnically Tibetan parts of China, Feiyue sneakers from Shanghai, a Cambodian martial art called bokator to defend against lions, and mushrooms from Kunming, China.