Tet 2008, The Year of Rat
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 40 of 62 › view all entries
The population of Nha Trang had swollen by thousands for the Tet holiday which commences tonight at midnight. It was after nine when I left the house. Hong Bang, the street at the opposite end of our alley, is not as commercial as Bach Dang and usually makes for a faster commute. But it too was already clotting with crowds making their way toward the beach. The usual traffic of bicycles and motorbikes was greatly enhanced, and slowed, by pedestrians and out-of-town cars. On-coming vehicles with bright lights erased all night vision so pacing behind wider, three-wheeled, rickshaw cyclos through the most congested areas enabled me to reach Wilson's in one piece. The Spot was rather quiet with most of the expats staying home. Most of the travelers were already along the beach.
After a Tiger beer, and another at Checkpoint Charlie's, I braved jamming streets and pedaled to my favored 'sidewalk 7-11' on Tran Phu, across the street from the beach.
While traffic continued to flow, the street narrowed by more and more people shuffling along the beach opposite the nearby Cultural Center.
Suddenly, the loud popping and crackling of fireworks ushered-in the Year of Rat and rained color from dark skies near the Cultural Center. I abandoned my Tiger and crossed the boulevard to work my way in that direction, taking sporadic pictures with my new, still-unfamiliar, Olympus camera. People cheered with each colorful burst that sizzled in the sky. As clusters of fire flashed and burst to stream and sparkle earthward in eerie shapes and colors, I cursed a lengthy digital delay, and an even longer wait to glimpse results. While the city seemed to fade in gray and white smoke, my battery light began to blink red.
When the firework display ended, I pedaled to Checkpoint Charlies and enjoyed a cold Tiger to toast the Rat. Reveling crowds thinned streets rather quickly. Many of the passing motorbike drivers held lengths of green-leafed sugar cane which is said to bring good luck. Perhaps I should have hauled one on this photo safari, or three to make a tri-pod. Overall, seeing the apparent enchantment by such a large crowd, without mishap or unruly disturbances, and hearing their cheers of delight at the fireworks, made for a great night out.