Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Lunar New Year (Tết) - 2013 in Saigon.

Mổi năm hoa đào nở 
Lại thấy ông đồ già 
Bày mực tàu giấy đỏ 
Bên phố đông người qua.

Just as the pink cherry blossomed each year
The old scholar was sure to reappear 
With China ink and red paper in scrolls 
Amidst the swelling crowds that surged and rolled.

One of few famous poems that I remember by heart - about the Spring and those images which  related to our traditional New Year - Tết, have faded away. Whenever our Tết is approaching, I always remember this sadly beautiful poem that I learnt in my childhood.   

        A calligrapher in Saigon - a retro image of the old times, preparing his writing as best wishes for New Year.   

Bao nhiêu người thuê viết 
Tấm tắc ngợi khen tài,
Hoa tay thảo những nét 
Như phượng múa rồng bay! 

Nhưng mỗi năm mỗi vắng 
Người thuê viết nay đâu 
Giấy đỏ buồn không thấm
Mực đọng trong nghiên sầu.
So many people paid him handsomely 
For his talent that they admired dearly, 
The flourishes of his accomplished hand
That wrought dragons and phoenixes on end.

Each passing year saw fewer people come. 
Where were they all who paid him so handsome?
Now his paper had lost its crimson red,
His ink dried out in its sad forlorn bed. (*) 
(*) "The calligrapher" by Vũ Đình Liên, translated by L.D. Le. 

            Pink cherry blossomed - a sign of the arrival of Tết, but only in the North. 

          and here you go: Golden Mai (Mai vàng) - a symbol of Spring in the South. 

             Flower market for Lunar New Year right in the heart of Saigon, next to New World Hotel. 

                  Happy with a gorgeous red paper flowers, though it called "paper"but it's real flowers!

           Curious about this flower, never need water, like immortals!         
             Orchids from highland Đà Lạt, a luxury choice for house decoration during Tết. 

                These orchids from a huge flower shop, not far from my place. So beautiful! 

          There was a year that I bought only orchids for house decoration and hope to keep it...

          but failed, the orchids were dying after few months, despite our everyday care. 

          The round-about in front of Bến Thành market - popular spot for many tourists. 

          A flower kiosk in the park before Tết. 

         More people shopping when Tết is closer - a customer bought dried shrimp in Bến Thành market.  
           Quiet in the morning, even during Tết, but... 

            ...when the dark falls, Saigon is ready to dress up for Tết - Lê Lợi boulevard

          Continental hotel where Graham Green wrote his famous novel "The quiet American" in 1950s.  

           Đồng Khởi street - famous with many buildings from the French colonial times... 

          ...starting from the Notre Dame de Saigon to the Saigon river has been lighted up for New Year.   

           Typical Chinese decorations for Lunar New Year in Chinatown. 

              Two little snakes - symbol of 2013! 

           Those golden pigs - a symbol of prosperity are waiting for their customers in the sun.

           Lion heads for lion dance can be another decoration in house - a souvenir shop in Chinatown. 

          Annual flower festival in Nguyen Hue blvd - under preparation - this year is a year of snakes

            Two days later, before the opening, the festival is going to celebrate the 10th year anniversary

           The first Starbucks opened in Saigon just a week before Lunar New Year, people queuing... 

            Kumquat - favorite plant for house decoration in New Year - sign of prosperity.   

          Water melon in a shape of wine bottle - sign of happiness? Water melon is a must fruit for Tết. 

           Even in a shape of golden bullion - a hope for a better prosperous year? 

          The pre-Tet dragon dance in my neighborhood, they will come back on the 1st day of New year! 

Lion dance is a part of our tradition for many celebrations, they bring a good luck! 

            Lucky money envelop - as a wish of the best of luck to receivers, mostly for kids and the youth! 

And very special moment - New Year Eve, it's a time that almost every family, every house set up a table with offerings such as fruits (usually 5 different fruits that we call Ngũ Quả), sweets or traditional sticky rice cake - in front of the welcome the New Year, to pray for the best to family, to loved ones...To me it would be one of the most spiritual moments, at this time I always have mixed feelings : quick flashback to the past, some deep thoughts to the future...

              Symbolic altar with offerings for New Year Eve to pray for the best in the new year. 

                  Best wishes to everyone, who follow my blog over the past first year! Thank you and 
                                                               Happy Snake's Year! 


  1. Hi anh Huu Nguien,

    Your pictures are lovely. I miss Tet and reminisce
    my childhood's memories of red envelops, new clothes, firecrackers and Tet's food. Thanks for taking your time and post up these wonderful pictures.

  2. Thank you! So many things that I would love to capture in my camera during this Tet and to share with everyone...hope will do it soon. Wish you have a great time wherever you are. Cheers

  3. Thank You for your picture. You have so many many great and so beautyful pictures with so many foods and life in Viet Nam.
    Your picture, it makes me remember great foods and time in Viet Nam.

  4. Beautiful pictures and I love your translation on the poem. I'm quite surprised that your blog is not well-known as I think it should be. Love your work and I hope you'll continue introducing Vietnam to foreigners!

    1. Thank you for reading my blog. Every nice comment really encourages me a lot to continue my work. Yours is one of them. Thanks a lot!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...