Well happy year of the horse. It arrived at midnight last night here in Vietnam and we had a front row seat.
Quite by chance we are staying at The Renaissance Hotel right on the river. only let me say because they were doing great rates over the Tet holiday as normally this is a business hotel. It also boasts a rooftop swimming pool and river views.
Little did we know that in the field on the other side of the river from the hotel was where the fireworks to celebrate New year are launched.. It was almost in the room. The show lasted for 15 minutes but the build up in terms of the thousands upon thousands of motor bike riders pilling into the area to watch the fireworks started around 8 p.m. Roads were blocked as were pavements/motor bike parking areas. Walking became almost impossible and we retreated back into the hotel clutching a few supermarket beers.
At midnight all the ships on the river started to sound their hooters, fog horns and whistles and the field opposite erupted.
The show had begun. This was right outside the room window.. The huge crowd in the streets around the hotel started to clap and shout
and we started to oh and ah as well.
The moment the show was over everyone started the mad scrabble to get back to their bikes and head home to family and friends. I had constantly been told that most people leave Saigon for Tet but it looked last night that an equal number arrive into Saigon for the festival. They actually travel with their crash helmets on the train ready to either hop on the back of a friends bike when they arrive or take over a family bike from someone who has gone to the family home elsewhere.
Coming back it from Mui Ne before Christmas it was a little disconcerting to find so many people in the railway carriage wearing their crash helmets. It looked like they knew something about the ride we were about to embark on that we didn’t . How bad was this train going to be we wondered with so many people sitting with helmets on. It seemed an age till most took them off.
This morning it was the turn of dragons at breakfast as a troop of entertainers arrived to dance
They seemed to scare the children more than entertain them but the guests certainly enjoyed the spectical.
you could even feed them apples off the table.
It was not a morning for an hangover though
This guy could bash that drum like crazy and being an atrium the sound echoed and was amplified. It was deafening.
To round off the morning we had to go to Flower Street. It is in fact normally the main street in Saigon and is usually a 4 lane road that dissects the city. However the authorities close it off and put huge flower displays on it for Tet.
Of course the start has to feature the horse
It is an amazing show, flowers as far as the eye can see. Crowds of locals flock to it and have their photos taken, thousands and thousands of photos. Like the Japanese before them the Chinese and the Vietnamese seem to do nothing but take endless photos of each other and themselves. They pose like professional models and pout and preen with the best of them. The latest idea seems to be to jump in the air as the shoot is taken so all up the street all you can see is see people leaping . All very odd.
Of course they dress beautifully and add so much colour to the flowers
Certainly a very different New Year. It is rather nice the flower tradition and the idea of peach tree blossom coming out on New Year’s Eve is quite special.
Still we quickly went back to being western and went to the pub to watch the rugby.