Opinion
2010 begins
  • | dtinews.vn | January 01, 2010 09:28 PM

The end of the decade marks the beginning of a new one. The last 10 years have seen a lot of changes in the world from technology advancements to wars. The global recession, the global recovery, and worldwide political changes have been seen in the last year alone. In Hanoi, the New Year also means celebrating the 1,000 year anniversary of the city.

Hanoi has been a festive city since my arrival in December. With Christmas Eve, the flower market, New Year's Eve, the 1,000 year anniversary and Tet (Lunar New Year) right around the corner, there seems to be no shortage of celebrations here.

After seeing the excitement of Christmas Eve, I was ready to see what New Year's Eve had to offer. I set out with a few friends to check out some places in the city. The weather was cold, rainy and misty. Our first destination: Hoan Kiem Lake. We parked our car as close to the lake as we could get and set out by foot.

The flower market attracted a large crowd around the lake.

The area surrounding the lake was flooded with people. The flower market had attracted crowds so large the previous night, it didn't end up being opened to the general public, so naturally, we were curious to see what all the fuss was about. It was difficult to get a great view of anything as the crowd was dense and constantly moving. Unlike Christmas Eve, it was a generally quiet crowd with none of the noise or celebrating that are landmarks of a Western New Year. Osama Al Obaid, a resident in Vietnam for over 2 years was out enjoying the scene with his wife. He has enjoyed his time in Vietnam and embraced the kindness of the people. He was content to spend the New Year just walking and enjoying all the people and the sights. Despite enjoying the festivities, he seemed to be ready for the holidays to pass, noting with honesty that he had received more SMS's from his Vietnamese and colleagues than he knew what to do with. Perhaps too many SMS's.

There were no shortage of people enjoying the crowds and the spectacle. Many strangers eagerly said hello and wished me a Happy New Year as we maneuvered our way through the mass of people.

Germans Florence and Martin, traveling through Vietnam on holiday told me that New Year's, "Feels a little bit different. Maybe it's not so important here. It's just another day." Like me, they had no plan and were just walking and observing.

After covering substantial ground, we finally reached an exiting point. It was after 11pm at this point, and we wanted to see another part of town. We decided to see how the West Lake crowd was bringing in the New Year. As we drove, traffic was noticeably non-existent, especially compared to a few nights ago on Christmas Eve. As we got closer to the lake, we could see it was eerily quiet for a night of such magnitude. It was almost midnight, and we had to find a place to bring in the New Year together. We pulled into a restaurant with about 3 minutes left until 2010. The 10 or so patrons seemed more curious about our entry than they were interested in the New Year. We quickly ordered some beers and looked at our phones. There was no countdown here, no wild toasts, no couples making-out, no confetti, no jumping up and down and no hugging of strangers that are such staples of a "western" New Year, but there was us, together, happy and in our own little party. Our beers arrived, just after it had already struck midnight. Happy New Year! We had a toast, took a drink, and welcomed 2010.

This was a New Year I'll never forget. It is by far the quietest New Year I have ever experienced, in contrast with the loudest Christmas Eve of my life, both within a matter of days from each other. It's safe to say, I'll never forget either of them. Hanoi is proving to be a fascinating place. 2010, here we go.

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