Calm after the storm

Every year at the end of January or beginning of February, Vietnam is in a chaotic flurry of buying, preparing and tidying up in anticipation of Tet. I hate this time of year and so do most other Expats as the traffic and general feeling of the city is all too stressful.

Yes more than normal.

What I do like is the calm and tranquility that replaces the chaos that was just one week before. This is the first morning of Tet. If you are ever lucky enough to experience it, it would be to experience Hanoi, Vietnam in its true Zen like or Valium induced state. The streets are empty except for the odd straggler here and there. You can hear birds clearly while walking down some of the larger streets in the city like Dai Co Viet. People are in a joyous and festive mood and will let you take photos of them with no problem (big deal for me as the ratio of asking is usually 1/3). All in all, it is really amazing and a joy to experience.

Since most photographers love to take photos or get assignments of the leading up of Tet, I thought why not show the actual first day of Tet and how calm it is and what remained after the chaos has subsided. So I set out at 6 AM and anyone I saw on the street I took a portrait of them. Got to say after 3 hours there were not so many portraits as it was really that quiet.

My first intention was to do this purely with images, but as my time on the street progressed I wanted to capture the sounds I experienced in the hope of helping place you, the audience, next to me in my morning journey. Sorry the sound is not better all I had was my iPhone, but I think it can still put you in the setting

I hope everyone has a great new year. May the year of the dragon bring you luck.

 

Tired and orange – Hanoi flower market during Tet

While this is my 4th Tet in Hanoi, I still enjoy going out to the night flower market just before the New Year. It is usually full of life and action, but this year it had a very different feeling. It was very dark and dirty and the flower sellers all looked very tired. Some of them said that it was a bad year to sell flowers as Hanoi had a hot flash for about 2 weeks before Tet which made most of the flowers bloom prematurely. For a flower seller in Hanoi, this is very bad as their Hanoian customers want their flowers to open up on the first day of Tet as it is considered an omen of good luck for the year. I feel bad for all the flower sellers, when their fight is strong they can haggle you to death, they just didn’t have that spirit in them this year. I missed it.

Keep your chin up all you flower sellers out there, next year will be here before you know it and with a little good luck the weather will be on your side.