Tet celebrations, HCMC

Trip Start Aug 08, 2004
Trip End Aug 2005

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Happy New Year! The journey back to Vietnam was long, if uneventful. It felt like a homecoming of sorts. The second we crossed the border, I had to restrain myself from hugging the first lady I saw wearing a conical hat. Maybe I only had 2 dollars left in the money belt, but I had emerged victoriously from Cambodia. The paved roads made it feel like we were riding on air, all the way back to HCMC.

The atmosphere in the city was electric in anticipation for Tet. While Mellisa went off in search of an open Western Union office, I wandered around the streets near the hotel. We met up with Todd (another WorldTeacher) and his friend Julia (who works in Saigon), at an outdoor concert downtown. Fireworks went off at midnight and thousands of people filed into the streets to watch. The happiness in the air was palpable. After the fireworks, we visited a nearby pagoda with Julia's friend Ngyuen to light some incense, a post-fireworks Vietnamese tradition. I will never forget coming out of the pagoda and the sight of being confronted with a solid moving wall of motorbike traffic, which stretched as far as the eye could see.

Our plan was to catch a bus at 7am in the morning, so we figured, better to just stay up all night. Which is how I ended up at 4am sitting at a plastic table in a sidewalk café drinking Tiger beer with a collection of completely random people. Mellisa (of course), Todd and Julia and their friends, some Vietnamese-American guys who were back visiting their families for New Year's. At 5am, as we sat on the sidewalk gnawing on ears of steamed corn (there was no pizza, ok?), who should come strolling along but Kiel, one of the Stanford kids who teaches in Hunan. I tell you, it's a small world.

I'm sure this entry has bored you to tears. Thanks for playing...I just want to wish everyone a happy (lunar) new year and have I mentioned? I'm off to the beach! Chuc Mung Nam Moi!
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