Real world Miss Congeniality
Beauty queen busts the pageant myths

Last updated 2-12-09 at 12:19 p.m.
Thi-Le Vo

By Thi-Le Vo
Northwest Asian Weekly

Four-inch heels really do bond women together. I know that sounds trite, but let me explain.

I was a con-testant in the Miss Vietnam Washington 2009 pageant. It was there that I realized my perceptions about pageants to be wrong. Coming into the pageant, I did not expect many contestants to be friendly or down-to-earth. More importantly, I did not expect to make any lasting friendships. But after we shared painful hours practicing in those heels, we were all a little closer because we understood the pain.

The contestants
Each weekend, we would meet up in the afternoon to practice our dance, our walk, and our Vietnamese. I was astonished to learn that I was in such a talented group. The careers of the contestants varied, from pharmacists to medical students to professors. There was a black-belt martial artist, a contestant who met Hillary Clinton, and another who won a hot-dog eating contest.

Before this experience, I didn’t really have any girlfriends. I was hesitant to open up because of negative experiences in the past.
One night, after the second practice, I went out with two of the contestants, and we engaged in genuine, fun conversation. Our first bonding experience was — believe it or not — at a dance club, talking about the representations of ethnic minorities and how we felt about them.

The pageant
A couple days before the pageant, people repeatedly asked me two questions — “Are you excited?” and “Are you nervous?” Although I did not feel nervous in the beginning, the constant questions made me nervous.

Pageant day was a lot more hectic than I expected. The pageant was supposed to start at 3 p.m., but two of the contestants were stuck in traffic coming from Tacoma.

Just minutes after one of the committee members finally declared, “We will just have start without them,” the two contestants amazingly showed up.

Behind the scenes, girls ran left and right, putting on new outfits. There were three outfits to change into, and we had about 10 minutes between each change. After all of the contestants had on their ao dai (a Vietnamese dress), the top 10 contestants were announced. These top 10 had to answer a question about a hobby or talent they had written on their application.

Based on the answer, the top five contestants were chosen and had to answer an impromptu question that all the contestants had written beforehand. I was lucky enough to make it into the top five.

Ironically, I received my own question, which was, “If you were faced with a decision to take one life in order to save a million, what would you do and why?”

You would think I’d know how to answer my own question, but I didn’t.

I wasn’t the person who actually thought of that question — my friend did. I wrote down his question, assuming it wouldn’t be chosen as one of the 10 possible questions.

As soon as I heard my question, I was in shock. I asked the host to repeat the question to make sure I had heard it right. My mind went utterly blank.

And I could not articulate. I don’t exactly remember what I said, but I know I used the word “kill” in my answer about a billion times. Kill this, kill that, kill people — it was horrible.

I did not win. My answer did me in.

But I am still honored to be the youngest contestant to be in the top five. I walked away with more just placing fourth — I gained new friends and a good life lesson: Don’t write down a question that you, yourself, cannot answer.

I became more in touch with my Vietnamese culture and found that pageants take dedication and hard work, especially when it involves walking in heels for 11 hours straight.

I was overjoyed when I saw my family and friends supporting me with their hugs and smiles. I am glad that my answer made them laugh. A memory that will stay with me forever was when I was walking on stage and my grandmother walked to the front to give me flowers. I was not expecting to become emotional, but it made my eyes water. I could tell how proud she was of me.

I am also happy that my charity, Operation Smile, was able to receive $500. My involvement with this pageant allowed two children to no longer be inhibited by their cleft lip or cleft palate because they can have a beautiful smile and a healthy, confident life ahead of them. (end)

Thi-Le Vo can be reached at

Local beauty rakes in online votes in international contest
14:39′ 28/10/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese beauty Cao Thuy Duong, who is among 67 contestants competing at the 2008 Miss International Pageant in Japan, is now leading in an online vote for the pageant’s International Image Award.

Vietnamese beauty Cao Thuy Duong is leading in an online vote for the International Image Award.

According to the website, as of 3pm yesterday, Duong has 4,288 votes, 41 per cent of the total, while Miss Columbia is in second place with 1,320 votes and Miss Zambia is in third place with 1,167 votes. The voting, now in the semi-final round, runs through November 1. The top 15 finalists, which will be announced on Sunday, will re-enter the competition on equal ground for the final round of voting.

Together with other Miss International contestants, Duong was present at a pageant function held in Kyoto last Saturday.

Wearing an innovative ao dai (traditional dress) by designer David Minh Duc, Duong said, “Hello everyone. My name is Cao Thuy Duong. I’m proud to come from Viet Nam — a peaceful country, which also loves peace. I do hope all of you will visit my country to experience the friendliness of the Vietnamese people as well as our natural landscape.”

Duong is also among the top 20 favourite beauties on the website, according to a list updated last Saturday.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

Model Pham Thi Ngoc Ha will represent Vietnam at the 20th Miss Model of the World contest

Model Pham Thi Ngoc Ha will represent Vietnam at the 20th Miss Model of the World contest for this year to be held from November 4 to 23 in China�s Shenzhen City.

Ha, who is 1.74 m tall and boasts a 88 � 61 � 91 (cm) figure, was the Miss Ao Dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) winner of the Miss Tourism Vietnam 2008 contest in which she finished among the top ten.

The 24-year-old started her career as a model in 2005 and has taken part in several major fashion shows including Fashion Week, Dep Fashion Show and Vietnam Grandpix Collection.

She is also the emcee for several TV game shows such as My Rec on VTV6 and Best Choice on Hanoi Television.

Ha will compete with 69 contestants from other countries and territories for the crown in the final round of this year�s contest, held at The Window of the World Theater on November 22.

Founded in 1988 in Turkey by the contest�s president Qevik Suha Alpayli, the Miss Model of the World is one of the first and most prestigious events for international models.

For more information, please visit

Impeccable style

High School students wearing ao dai, the Vietnamese national costume. — AP Photo

I have visited Vietnam on many occasions and one of the most beautiful sights is being greeted by Vietnamese women wearing traditional white tunics or ao dai, Vietnam’s national dress.

On the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Min City, high school girls ride bicycles with impeccable style, wearing the elegant ao dai uniforms in what must be one of the world’s most graceful school uniforms. Others also wear conical hats.

I wish we could learn a thing or two from Vietnam. Leg power saves energy and it is pollution free. Are our Malaysian ladies (and men) willing to take up the challenge?

For this to happen, the city road system must be friendly to cyclists.

Pola Singh

17:18′ 17/11/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Duong Truong Thien Ly arrived at the OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday morning, one of the latest contestants coming to this country for the Miss World Pageant.

Wearing a blue ao dai and palm-leaf conical hat, Thien Ly attracted the eyes of many passengers at the airport. She looked very cheerful after an 11-hour flight.

The appearance of Thien Ly and some other contestants warmed up the OR Tambo Airport. Contestants were warmly welcomed by the organizing board and brought to Sandton Sun Hotel in the centre of Johannesburg, one of the best hotels in South Africa.

The Vietnamese contestant shares a room with Miss Thailand.

Thien Ly brought four suitcases of costumes, designed by Cong Tri and Sy Hoang, to South Africa.

Last night contestants met with the Chairwoman of Miss World Organization, Julia Morley. Today they will be shot for an introduction video clip, practice at Convention Center and attend a night party.

(Source: VNE)

Five records to be recognized at Hanoi Flower Street Festival
13:17′ 30/12/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – The five national records made during the Hanoi Flower Street Festival 2009 will be announced at the King Ly Thai To statue, Hanoi, at 7:00pm, December 31.

The wood-made fan and the pottery-made street.

The HCM City-based Vietnam Record Book Centre or Vietkings said the organizing board and craftsmen who participate in the Hanoi Flower Street Festival have registered five records including: the largest pair of flower-made dragons, the longest Bat Trang pottery-made street, the largest wood fan, the first collection of ao dai which are made of natural materials, and the largest flower gate in Vietnam.

Vietkings’ consultant and editing council have carefully researched the five records and officially recognized them as new national records.

The largest pair of flower-made dragons (15m long, 4.5m high) will be placed in the centre of the flower street, at the foot of the King Ly Thai To statue. The product is made from 10,000 branches of flowers from Da Lat city.

The ao dai collection made of natural materials.

The largest wood fan (9m wide, 4.5m long) is made by artisans Duong Van Mo and Phi Quang Bo from Chang Son fan village, Thach That district, Hanoi. The fan is made of fir, teak wood, rattan, silk, and decorated by Hang Trong folk paintings.

The pottery-made street includes 200 models of ancient houses of Hanoi. The product is made by craftsman Nguyen Ngoc Tuan from Bat Trang Pottery Village, Hanoi. The street is 50m long, made with 2 tonnes of clay. The highest houses are 0.8m and the lowest ones are 0.3m.

The flower gate is12.6m long, 5.6m high and 0.95m wide.

The collection of ao dai made by natural materials includes 10 ao dai made by dried flowers, leaves, resin, and rubber latex. This is a product of artisan Nguyen Manh Hung. Hung made the collection in three months.

V. T

00:10′ 20/01/2009 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Dinh Kieu Hanh, 21, defeated fourteen contestants in the final round of the Miss Ao Dai North California on Saturday in San Jose.

The first runner-up is Pham Tran Xuan Dao, 22, and the second runner-up is Le Bich Ngoc, 24.

Miss Ao Dai will represent the Vietnamese community in California to participate in charity activities.

In the last two years, the winners of Miss Ao Dai North California have returned to Vietnam to help children in orphanages.

The beauty contest is an annual event of the Vietnamese community in California. The recent contest is the 23rd of its kind.

Contestants in the qualifier round.

Contestants of the final round.

Miss Ao Dai North California 2008 Linda Tran.

The second runner-up of Miss Ao Dai North California 2008.

Miss Ao Dai North California 2009 Dinh Kieu Hanh.

(Source: VNE)