Thursday, February 25, 2010


Right before Tet, the Lunar New Year, a couple good friends organized an all day scavenger hunt, to get us all into the spirit of Tet. It was to be teams of two going around the city collecting pictures from a list that would prove difficult, to say the least. Only one team out of 40 completed the task with some shenangans.
We were to take a picture of a live tiger, to commemorate the Year of the Tiger. Since the event took place on the day when the Kitchen Gods give heaven reports of how good each and everyone of us were that past year, we had to document this as well. This came to form thru the burning of effigy or of the releasing of gold fish into a body of water. Also, we had to get a picture of Ong Do, a calligrapher, who this time of year is found all over the city painting black ink onto red canvases words of wisdom for the New Year. There was even a picture that we needed to take with a long haired Vietnamese man, a tourist, a shoe shine boy AND a girl on her Vespa. This was the hardest! But a few teams did manage, one by chance and one by pure group organizational skills. We had to translate a Vietnamese poem about the New Year and record a New Year story told by a native Hanoian. Here are couple of those pictures from our team, which was a threesome, made up of Kim-on the right, for the morning shift and Mandy for the afternoon trip. We decided to ride bikes the entire day.

This took us all over the city. Kim and I rode north over the Long Bien Bridge to look for a picture of Uncle Ho then we went west to the zoo to look for the tiger. But neither trips were successful so we had lunch with Daria, who was leaving for Switzerland-her home, for vacation. Next we rode over to the Temple of Literature for pictures of the Calligraphers. For the spirit of the Kitchen Gods we went back east to Hoan Kiem Lake. Then Kim had to head off for a work party and Mandy rode over to take her place. With Mandy, I rode all over the backpacking section of the Old Quarter looking for room 23, with no avail. Lastly, we heard that somewhere up north there is a place where lovers paint love notes to each other on a long stretch of wall overlooking West Lake. So, we circumnavigate the lake on our bikes in search of the most illusive point of interest on the list-an I love U stencil.  But this too deemed too difficult. 20+ kilometers later we found ourselves at the closing party for this Maratet-marathon Tet, event.

Maratet from Linh Nguyen on Vimeo.

In the end we had eight of the 11 tasks completed, rode 45 kilometers, drank about 4 cups of coffee at various places in the city, saw the zoo for the first time, rode over Long Bien Bridge for the first time and rode around West Lake for the first time....And yes! By the end I was looking forward to Tet-Vietnam's biggest holiday.

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