This was the 4th TET(Lunar New Year) I celebrated in Vietnam. Its a fun Holiday I've come to understand and appreciate. It's also an opportunity to see the Vietnamese students celebrate their heritage with games, food, songs, dance and plays. As you can see from the photos, some of us dress the part to show our respect and involvement in the day. There are calligraphy drawing stations, student run food stands, build your own dessert stations, throw a sponge at your teacher etc.. its a visual and a gastronomic spectacle. Each year our kids organize this whole event with the help of our Vietnamese teachers. Its an event not to be missed.
It's really exciting to see how the students react to this holiday. Tet is mainly a secular holiday passed down from the traditions of ancient China. This Lunar New Year is the celebration of the Rooster. You can find out what year you match up according to the Chinese Zodiac here . If you want to know more about the holiday, read this article from the Huffington Post. I found it very insightful. This year, I will stay local and travel to the country side with some of my Vietnamese friends. Its nice to get a break from the city. The country side family celebration consists of eating drinking sleeping and playing card games. Its a relaxing way to bring in the new year.
Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis. It can bog you down in the day to day speed of things. It's easy to forget that this is a country of lush forests and pristine coastline. Just 3 hours north of Ho Chi Minh City is Tri An lake. Apparently this hydropower damn supplies a large portion of energy to the city.
Tri An lake makes for a beautiful bike ride. Its relatively flat land, a couple big climbs here and there, but its the air that really captures you. After living in Asia for 5 years, I value fresh air more than anything. If your a serious cyclist you may decide to bike there on your own. I can't imagine how long that would take. But if you appreciate a little down time and join a crew of cyclist with the Bike Shop in Thao Dien, you can really save your energy and enjoy yourself. They organize trips weekly. This one will cost you about 600,000 VND with food and transportation provided. Bike costs is separate. The food will be at a homestay nearby. You can spend the night and do many more activities once there.
Tet is coming! TET is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. I aligns with most of Asia in their Lunar New Year. This whole continent is celebrating at the same time. But each country has its own unique culture and storyline for this holiday. All sorts of delicious snacks like, bánh chưng (see below) are created for this holiday. Teams of dragon performers run around the city banging on drums. There used to be an awesome display of fireworks, but the government recently put a crack down on that. You can read about it in this english version of Vietnamese news online Tuoitrenews.com or Saigoneer
I've been studying vietnamese for a bit over a year now (on an off). I wish I would have started earlier. It really is a fun language to learn (once you get it). Tonal and complicated, words don't sound like words and the letters all sound different from what you think they sound like. To my ear I'll say a word correctly, but a vietnamese person will have no idea what I mean until I guess the tone a few more times. Know the language or not, the vietnamese people are very curious about us foreigners. Particularly in the country side, vietnamese people will ask you a lot of personal questions. This is just their way of showing they are interested in you. The first 3 questions are almost always: :Where are you from? How old are you? Are you married yet? Even in cities you'll be greeted with a smile by a taxi driving lounging on his motorcyle reading the newspaper while having a coffee and smoke. It's an incredible place to live, and the sights never get old. You may become immune to the #stuffonthebacksofbikes , but its always exciting to face the road and watch.
Recently, I have been studying with VLS. They are very professional, welcoming, accommodating and enthusiastic about teaching. As a teacher myself, I find it nice to be on the other end of the table and have a professional teach (try to teach) me. They run field trips and charity programs. They are passionate about what they do. When they asked me to be in a video to promote their school, as embarrassing as I knew it would be, I knew I was helping them with their business. If it can helps them continue the awesome program they are doing,I'll make a video every week.
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