Note: this is coming from my bad memory to remember MY feelings – I highly recommend you talk to an actual person who grew up celebrating this holiday if you want the official lowdown
Well technically it’s day 3 of lunar new year. But around this time last year, I was in Vietnam to celebrate! Well technically it would have been two weeks from now. But I’ll be in Hawaii in two weeks and will forget that I wanted to write about my lunar new year celebrations in Vietnam (locally, this holiday is called Tết)
We landed the day right before new years and so TONS of people away from home were coming back. It was insanity. I’ve never seen so many people before, with the horde of people waiting for loved ones and friends, screaming and waving frantically to find the arrivals. I honestly don’t know how we found Ngoc. Okay I just wanted to remember that because the noise and movement and people mixed with the humidity was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and apparently Tet is one of the few times it gets this crazy.
It seemed like the quintessential Tet food (or at least my favorite) was banh chung. I love this dish. It’s basically sticky rice, mung beans, and pork (i.e. all of my favorite things in one square) cooked in a banana leaf (Katie and I had attempted to make it the year before and it was…. edible….). We ate this with dried pork and pickled vegetables. ALSO pickled onions are really good.
Not pictured: Dried tamarind. I can’t tell the difference between the Vietnamese version vs Mexican vs Filipino, but I like them all.
Also important is having boiled chicken. My favorite second to the banh chung is the egg-pork-sweet-salty dish in the middle. I have no idea what it’s called. But I believe it’s similarly a big Tet food. Also I would like to take this moment to remember how hospitable everyone was and how amazing they are at cooking and hosting people. We stayed with Katie’s family, and they were so thoughtful and fun to be around. I hope to be a cool adult like them one day, too.
Ham Nghi Street!!! This place is gorgeous and it’s common for people to come here with their families to appreciate all the bright and beautiful flowers and decorations. People usually wear bright colors and take pictures with the flowers.
A girl who I accidentally got a picture of when really I just wanted to capture the flowers.
This park. OMG I forgot the name of it. Google said I took this picture at these GPS coordinates: 10.7884556,106.6814583. But anyway, continuing with the festive colors on Ham Nghi street, this park had flowers in addition to art displays, and a tree root contest (OMG I also forgot the name of the tree… But the idea is to get thick, strong roots for a beautiful tree). Katie’s dad actually grows trees like that for fun on his rooftop.
Where was this place???? This is why it’s important to do these memoir things when you get back, not one year later.
Traveling within a travel!
After new years in Vietnam, we left for Thailand. Many people travel with their families to celebrate the new year, so we went on a Vietnamese group tour with other adventure seeking families. I have a lot to say on this trip to Thailand, but for now, just focusing on the lunar new year parts, there were sooooo many celebrations. A lot of Chinese tourists also were in Bangkok for new year, so there were tons of spontaneous (they were totally planned; it was only spontaneous to me not knowing any better) dragon dances. I love the drums.
This picture was from the zoo- but my favorite dance was in our hotel lobby. I was so captivated that I didn’t even take a picture.
So far that’s what I remember about celebrating lunar new year/Tet last year with my great friends and Katie’s amazing family. I think my biggest takeaway is that it’s freaking awesome to celebrate a holiday A) in a country where said holiday is a big deal and B) you aren’t too familiar with the traditions (so you have no idea what to expect). Also (in the unlikely event that I am impregnated), I want to be a cool mom.