Friday, January 27, 2017

Vietnam: Week 42ish (in which we visit Vũng Tàu)

We (me, my friend Tom, and 3 of my roommates) decided to spend the first four days of Tet in Vũng Tàu, a small beach town on the South Peninsula of Vietnam. 

Riding on the bus, less than 2 hours ride from HCMC.

View from the apartment we rented.

On top of the mountain in the back you can see the famous Vũng Tàu Jesus statue. But we didn't visit it on this trip.

Drinking beer on the beach. Vũng Tàu is a much cleaner city than HCMC. There are garbage cans everywhere.

Me and Tuna!

Me and Skyler!

Getting street breakfast.

Exploring a park that is all decked out for Tet.

They're putting up giant chicken statues for the year of the rooster.

We rode up to a lighthouse on top of the hill, which looked over the entire city.

We think this was probably something old and military related? Vũng Tàu used to be an important military base.

Overall, a really chill quiet little town. But it was a nice couple days to just get out of the city and hang out with my roommates. And being able to drive 2 hours in January and go swimming in the ocean is pretty rad.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Vietnam: Week 41 (in which we attend the Tet Teacher's Party)

So basically, Tet is the beginning of the Lunar New Year. And the biggest holiday in Vietnam. Tet holiday technically falls on January 28th this year. But the Tet holiday lasts several weeks and we are currently in the beginning of it.

Our last day of work before the vacation fell on January 18th, and on the 19th we attended a huge party for the teachers of our school (very similar to the Teacher's Day party I attended in November)

The party was held at these totally beautiful gardens, so my friend Skyler and I wandered around the grounds and explored for the first hour or so before we entered the party.

This Tet marks the beginning of the year of the rooster, and you can see a few chickens in the background here as they're setting up for some sort of Tet celebration.

Eventually we entered the area where the party was and receive our "lucky money". 

It's customary during Tet to buy these red envelopes and fill them with money to give to loved ones, and every teacher received an envelope with a surprise amount of money.

All of the teachers who attended the party had to buy tickets to play games. At the party's entrance, each school had a booth set up to play different games and win prizes.

This is a ring toss. With real live ducks. Because there are no animal laws in Vietnam.

Some sort of wrestling/betting game that we couldn't figure out because no one spoke English.

 I didn't take any pictures during the ceremony or dinner, but it was very similar to the Teacher's Day party. A lot of sitting around waiting and a lot of listening to Vietnamese that I couldn't understand. Followed by a delicious dinner and some really beautiful theatrical performances/dances/singing about Tet holiday and Vietnamese tradition. Then followed by a lot of sitting around waiting to go home. A really memorable experience.

And as a bonus, only two days before, my friend Tom moved here from America and we were able to take him out for his first night out in 'Nam with a few other Vietnamese teachers (not pictured but I swear they were there) from our school.