Monday, February 1, 2010

Hoh Chi Minh City

Signs of Tet , or Lunar New Year are all over Vietnam, especially in HCMC. They do elaborate lighting displays and hang lanterns across the roads and in trees. I made Jim stand next to this one so you could see the scale of it. There were boxes and boxes of lanterns waiting to be hung. I would love to see these lit up!Wouldn't it be great to see the lantern factory where they are made? Hoi An perhaps?
Our first night in Hoh Chi Minh City sort of took us off guard with the intense heat and humidity. We have not experienced this kind of heat anywhere else during our trip so we had to adjust to it gradually. One way to do that was to visit the bar at the Sheraton for a happy hour drink (it's usually 2 for one), The cooling breezes and the gently swaying palms of the 23rd floor open air bar soothed and cooled us. We had a fantastic view of the Rex Hotel below us, where we went the next night for a drink. This place used to be a watering hole for the journalists and many others during the Vietnam war. Jim's dad worked for the CIA here for 8 years, so everywhere we go, we wonder if it is someplace his dad might have been. There is a lot of nostalgia here for Jim, and he remembers sending letters to his dad here.

This is a gate made especially for Tet, signifying the important elements for the celebration, like watermelons and these packages of rice and ? wrapped in banana leaves. At night they are lit up, too, and provide the locals with great photo ops.
We are able to witness all the stages of preparation, which I find to be so interesting. I still have not figured out where all these pink blossoms ended up, because they were not there the next day. Over some street somewhere. They are also huge-5 feet across, and made of a stretchy synthetic. Not unlike making fairy wings....Yellow mai flowers and pink blossoms are the special flowers for Tet. Really anything yellow or red, and you see small trucks carrying them all across Vietnam.
Well, here is my favorite shot of the lantern hanger. Yes, everyone of the hundreds of lanterns that are placed in trees and along the roads is hung by hand. No big trucks with cherry pickers here. It is almost better for me to see the process than to see it when it is all finished, however there are some streets where the decorations are complete, and they go on for blocks. When they are lighted at night, it is truly magical.


  1. What a story, walking in his father's footsteps.
    The size of those lanterns is amazing, sure you can't send a few back?

  2. Cynthia, I'm catching up on your posts. You must be in Lantern Heaven. Thanks for sharing Jim's story. That's what makes travel so interesting and rewarding.