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Happy year of the horse

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buying peach blossoms

We arrived back from Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc last week to a Hanoi totally decked out for Tet – the Vietnamese new year. Today is the first official day of the week long holiday. The stalls at the Tet market are full of new year treats and decorations. Paper money, offerings, and joss sticks are sold for prayer to ancestors and bring good luck and wealth in the next life. People are buying candied fruits and strange foods like blackened birds and traditional Tet sticky rice in banana leaf. The streets are lined with lights and decorations and everyone is buying tress, blossoms, orchids and flowers. Not wanting to be left out, I have purchased a cumquat tree (which signifies good luck for the year ahead) and some peach blossoms which are hung with the traditional red decorations. We even gave li xi – red envelopes with money (in our case fake money) – at our weekend dinner party. Here are a few photos from around town:

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tents are lined with orchids for sale at the flower market

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decorations to hang on the tree and offerings to be burnt or taken to the temples

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streets lined with Tet specialties

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at the Tet market

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A Tet special – blackened birds served in cans, yes they are feet sticking out the top

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The cumquat tree which will reside on the balcony

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Our housekeeper added the tinsel

By the way… I am aware I have already broken one of my new years resolutions to write on my blog every week, but I figure since the Vietnamese new year is only just starting I have another chance!

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Chúc mừng năm mới (Happy New Year)

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After a lovely holiday home in Australia I have now returned to Hanoi refreshed and ready for 2014. We’ve been here about nine months now and really starting to feel like we know the place, somewhat. Sights such as the guy on a scooter with a ten foot spiky pole or the barefoot handyman clinging onto a tall tree branch while trying to saw off the branch directly above his head (and smoking) still baffle me a little.

This morning I went for a short per-breakfast walk to the small park near my house. After a rather painful massage on Saturday I now have a sore back (I actually already had a sore back but the massage seemed to make it much worse) I thought a gentle morning stroll would improve things. I enjoy morning walks but don’t usually partake in them over here as it is generally accompanied by this:

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However I was greeted at the park by a group of people who obviously thought an early Monday morning dance is the best way to start the week – and I have to say they looked much happier than those stuck in the traffic above.

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So believe it or not the weather is actually quite cool here these days and we’ve even turned on the heater once or twice. Although, despite what many down jacket-hat-and-gloves sporting Hanoian’s think – it is only about 20 degrees C not zero. Nevertheless, it is nice to experience Hanoi in a different season and also makes for much more enjoyable running weather – or, perhaps more accurately, a short once-a-week jog.

So today starts one of my new year resolutions (along with improving patience and being more organized/productive with my work)  which is to make an effort to write on my blog more – I’ll be honest upfront and admit that it’s probably not going to happen but at least I have good intentions. So stay tuned for a Saigon posting next week (which is where we’ll be). In the meantime, I now have a website which is rather exciting (for me I mean, not really anyone else) and if you’re interested you can read some of my articles which have been published over the past few months: www.katielaurenjacobs.com