The Colors of Tet
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 41 of 62 › view all entries
Banners, flowers, and billboards brightened the Tet holiday season. Vietnamese flags - red with a single, centered yellow star - flew on balconies of residential buildings and on the fronts of many shops and businesses. Those flags bordering major streets and traffic circles alternated with others, also red, bearing the Soviet-era hammer and sickle. Red banners with yellow lettering spanned wide streets offering new year wishes or quotes by Ho Chi Minh. Colorful plastic sheeted propaganda billboards fluttered in breeze, anchored throughout town and along the beach walkways.
Back-street sidewalk venders displayed neatly stacked piles of green watermelon, coconuts, and sugar cane. One vacant corner lot was transformed into a busy flower market. Resembling a U.
The Tet holiday was not always a colorful, festive time. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive of 1968 when the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War took place. Ken was in the middle of it. The first of this month marked the day that he suffered serious shrapnel wounds and was evacuated from the Siege at Khe Sanh. I'll never forget his telling that, as small-arms fire peppered his medevac helicopter, morphine did not ease the pain; instead, made him numb to impending death - and accepting the fate.
As families return to homes and jobs, worldwide, the streets of Nha Trang are becoming less crowded. The push-carts of colorful balloons, streamers, and small toys have dwindled. The market places hustle with activity and with the bakery finally re-opened, sliced sandwich bread is back. Once again the corner lot is abandoned and most of the road-side flags and banners have come down. But many of the billboards remain, often referring to events of 1968.