Published: January 7th 2009January 7th 2009
Happy New Year 2009
outside the bar with other teachers and students
Happy New Year from Vietnam
So we have said goodbye to 2008 and spent the last few days getting to know 2009. New Year in Vietnam was a little odd. 1st January is an official holiday here so there was some preparation running up to the event. Most of this involved the Abba song "Happy New Year". They played it everywhere. Constantly. You couldn't go to the supermarket or past a shop or even past a car without hearing it. On New Year's Day it was playing out of speakers in the street. I have never heard so much Abba.
On 31st December we were working. We teach in the evenings so it was relatively late when we got out. We met some other teachers and students from Apollo and some from a rival school, VATC, at a nearby bar. This is another bia hoi
bar, where they serve incredibly cheap fresh beer to you as you sit at small plastic tables and chairs that I'm sure are designed to be kids patio furniture. I expect you remember our tale of the last one we found with the bucket toilet? Well, this new one has
a real toilet, in a walled room, so it's one step up. It also sells pints of beer. In big stein mugs, German style. A pint of this fresh beer comes to all of 20p. The bar also serves food - big plates of chips and noodles which really hit the spot. Perfect.
Midnight came and we all piled into the street to sing Auld Lang Syne very loudly. We seemed to be the only ones really celebrating. It turns out that the Vietnamese celebrate the turning of the New Year on New Years Day with big family meals, and they don't do a great deal on New Years eve. But then, they have lunar new year coming up in 3 weeks - Tet - which is a huge deal here, so perhaps they are just saving themselves for that.
After the bar closed, as it did very early as most bars in Vietnam do, we got take-away beer. This involved the bar filling up a 5 litre water container with beer from the keg. We took this back to the flats where we live for a bit more celebrating.
So, while we were celebrating the Christmas and New Year period, Vietnam put most of their energy celebrating a different event. The AFF Suzuki cup is a football tournament between the South East Asian nations. This year eight teams qualified: Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Laos. Thailand and Vietnam got the the final, which was played in two legs, one in Bangkok and one in Hanoi. Vietnam beat Thailand 2-1 in the first leg. In the second, they drew 1-1, meaning that Vietnam won the cup.
In all our years of living in England, we have never won a football cup. The last time we won one was in 1966. That's before either of us were born. We didn't even qualify for the 2008 European cup. And this is a game that was formally invented in England.
In 2008 we lived in Spain and Spain won the European cup. They celebrated by parading on foot through the streets of Madrid dressed in yellow and red and draped in Spanish flags. Later they jumped in the fountains. The beeping of horns and the cheering went on all night.
in 2008 we moved in Vietnam, and shortly afterwards Vietnam won the AFF Suzuki cup. In Haiphong they celebrated by riding around and around on their mopeds, waving giant flags on sticks, cheering and beeping their horns even more than normal. This went on all night. Round and round and round and round. We were watching to see if anyone fell off, which they must have done, but just not where we were. It made crossing the road even more challenging than normal, like some sort of extreme Frogger game.
There are more photos below