Some brief recollections about my fourth Tet in Vietnam…
I got a few days off from work before the lunar new year and shot up to HCMC with friends for a couple days of fun and seeing old friends and eating pizza (which I’d been without for like five months and really craving). However, as I learned the morning after eating a greasy Pizza Hut pizza that your stomach really needs to be conditioned first and had a nice stomach ache.
After a couple days of madness and fast food in the big city five of us found seats on a bus back to The LX. Tyler and I had an invitation from the vice-chairman of the province to come visit his house, and we made it back in time for me to take a shower before heading out to his house for a nice evening of seeing some old friends and students and sipping beers and a special kind of dark purple rice wine from some central province that I can’t seem to remember the name of.
For the lunar new year’s eve they shoot off fireworks in LX, and I’d made arrangements to meet up with some of my former students to find a good vantage point to view them.
At our agreed vantage point in downtown LX, we had a nice view of the streets that were absolutely packed with motorbikes to the point where they couldn’t move, much less cars. There were even a couple ambulances stuck in the mess that could barely move even with the help of the police.
(note the taxi stuck in the middle and unable to move)
But finally, about 10:20 p.m., we got to see what we were waiting for. The fireworks began blasting off of the roof of the Dong Xuyen Hotel, one of the tallest buildings in LX. And they kept blasting and going. At one point we thought they were finished, even though it didn’t really seem like a finale, and then they started up again…
The first day of the lunar new year I went to visit an old friend who was on duty because he works for the government, this led to eventually going back to his house and meeting other friends, some old for me and some new. After that, I was invited to a quick coffee but after a short time was called away again to another friend’s house for a few more beers before turning in.
The second day of the year of the golden buffalo was nice and relaxing and I was feeling lazy but was eventually convinced to go sing karaoke with a former student and a former colleague that I’d never gotten to know well. The place had a very nice selection of English songs and after singing for a couple hours we went and had a dish that I hadn’t had for ages: beef grilled on a roofing tile. It might sound slightly weird if you aren’t familiar with it, but for those of you who’ve had it, you know what I mean…
The third day of the lunar new year Tyler was back in LX with his fiancee responding to an invitation from the vice-rector of An Giang University. I arrived at 9 a.m. and was greeted by a bottle of brandy which descended into visiting two more friends’ houses, including a Mr. Trang, one of my oldest friends in LX. He and his wife have a new two-month old baby, and he was joyous.
Our final activity for the day was more singing of karaoke, and I got back to my room slightly after midnight.
For the past few days I’ve been taking it nice and easy and I’m back to work tomorrow.
In final conclusion: Happy New Year!
Now playing: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues