Bret and his wife

Living in Vietnam for eight years, Bret Fishleigh from the U.S. has celebrated the Vietnamese Tet several times in Hanoi and Hai Phong. During Tet holidays, Bret enjoys going to the homes of his Vietnamese friends and co-workers and having lunch or dinner with them. All of them gave memorable experiences to the young man. He said that the first Tet he spent in Vietnam was the most memorable. “That time, I celebrated New Year with my landlord’s family in Hanoi. Everyone was really friendly, and I got the chance to meet people young and old from different parts of northern Vietnam. It was really enjoyable and interesting to experience that kind of culture.”

He recalled another memorable time when he visited a friend’s family in Hai Phong on the occasion of the Lunar New Year Festival. “We walked around the city’s downtown, a lot of people were out and about, and the atmosphere was really festive. It was a really fun time. Nobody is worried about working so everyone is relaxed,” said Bret.

Bret shared that he likes the peach blossom decorations during the Vietnamese people’s Tet. He also likes how the vibe and atmosphere in Hanoi is slower and more relaxed on the first days of Lunar year and how people, the government, and businesses make efforts and prioritize the holiday. "In my country, it can be quite difficult to get time off for holidays, so people often don’t get to spend very much time with their families and friends. On January 1, younger people may go out to bars and restaurants, and older people may stay at home and have a few friends come over for a small party,” said Bret.

Coming to Vietnam with the idea to live, travel, and work outside of the U.S., Bret fell in love with and decided to stay long in the S-shaped country. Vietnam is no longer a temporary destination, it now becomes his second homeland which gave him a lot of interesting cultural experiences. More specially, Vietnam is the country where his beautiful newly-wed wife was born and brought up. 

Mr. Gerrit and his wife Ineke in a visit to Hang Ma street

Unlike Bret, Mr. Gerrit and his wife Ineke from Holland came to Vietnam to re-experience the Vietnamese people's cultural customs during the Tet, which they had missed more than ten years ago. “We once came to Vietnam’s Mui Ne on the occasion of the Lunar New Year holidays, but we did not have an opportunity to taste the Vietnamese people’s traditional cuisine and take a spring trip with streams of festive people due to the limited time. But we have it now. We will experience all of them this time,” Gerrit excitedly said.  

Ms Ineke said that she heard about the Chung cake (traditional Vietnamese glutinous rice cake) and really wanted to taste it. “In my country, everyone has Olie bollen (fried doughnut balls made from flour, eggs, apple, milk, and yeast) to wish for a happy and prosperous new year. Olie bollen in the Dutch people's culture is as important as the Chung cake in the Vietnamese culture. It is indispensable treat in the Dutch people’s meal on the new year,” Ineke said.

While visiting Hang Ma street, Ineke could not hold back her emotion and said, “I love the nice bustling streets in Hanoi. The streets are full of colorful lanterns and decorations. I love it.”

Sealgi Heo and Suwan Park love exploring the culture of Vietnam

For two young visitors from the Republic of Korea, Sealgi Heo and Suwan Park, the short trip to the capital city of Vietnam gave them some of the most wonderful experiences ever. "This is the first time that I have experienced a Vietnamese Tet market and tasted different kinds of food," Suwan Park said.

While visiting the Tet market on Hang Luoc street, the two Korean visitors paid special attention to traditional trees and kept asking shop owners about the origin and significance of them.

"We envy Vietnam. The Vietnamese people have different kinds of flowers, plants, and trees to decorate their houses on new year, while ours do not have any special flowers for the special occasion. Regarding cuisine, the Korean people have Dduk Guk rice cake soup on the new year,” said Suwan Park.

It is evident that foreigners are interested and attracted by the festive atmosphere in Hanoi before Tet and the beautiful cultural traditions of the Vietnamese people. Answering questions about their future plans, all of them said that they would like to have more Tet experiences during the biggest festival of Vietnam.

Translated by Tran Hoai