Today is the first day of the year of the pig. Last night a few of us had a bonfire on the roof of the guesthouse and watched the fireworks. The fireworks started at 10:30, and soon after that, and continuing all night, the text messages came. The system was obviously overloaded and this led to the messages coming all night. From students, colleagues, friends, etc. All wishing me happiness, success, and health in the new year (a few messages also wished that I would find a girlfriend). However, one of my favorite messages was from one of my second-year students, and it went something like this: “Happy lunar new year! I hope you will not feel lonely in our city because we–your students–are always beside you when you need. Good luck, vui ve [happiness].” Messages like this are always a mood elevator for me. I wish anyone who reads this a happy new year of the pig.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with horrible stomach cramps and they’ve stayed with me through most of this morning. The suspected cause: bacon or a kind of Vietnamese bologna from yesterday. Regardless, I was up for breakfast this morning. I was supposed to visit a neighboring province with a friend but had to cancel over breakfast.

I was going home after breakfast and decided to swing by the grand opening of the first big supermarket, or “business center” in Long Xuyen. I had the appearance of near complete pandemonium. The traffic police had were not letting any vehicles drive past the main road. I got as close as I could and saw what appeared to be a ceremonial dragon dance, perhaps to celebrate the opening. I’m sure I won’t be able to get near it for several days now.