In London, New Year’s Eve is all about a single night of overpriced and overcrowded bars, drunken idiots and – if you’re lucky – some half-decent fireworks. With the exception of one fantastic night to celebrate the new millennium, I’ve generally avoided New Year’s Eve parties like the plague.
So when I realised that my trip to Vietnam would precede Tết, which is the Vietnamese celebration of the Lunar New Year, I made plans to be out of there well in advance. I had no intention of inflicting a New Year celebration upon myself.
Except that this is no ordinary New Year celebration. It’s actually called Tết Nguyên Đán or Feast of the First Morning (thanks Wikipedia), and Ho Chi Minh City is transformed in the weeks running up to the actual event.
There are yellow flowers and red Vietnamese flags everywhere, and the main street in District 1 is closed off to allow for the erection of some spectacular decorations. It’s exciting to watch this street – which is usually heaving with traffic – being filled with so many intricate temporary structures, all conjured up in a very short space of time.
The city itself gradually empties as people leave for the countryside to visit their families, and on the day before I left, which was also the day before the official celebrations started, the main street was relatively quiet, offering excellent views of the installations.
Here’s a small selection. Chúc mừng năm mới!