We arrived in Hanoi 10 days ago to be met with the frenzied build up for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Tet is infamous in the west for the 1968 Tet Offensive, one of the changing points of the Vietnam War. But for us and the millions of Vietnamese, it is a stunning festival of happiness, centred on the family. Scooters rule the roads here; as a wave they descend upon the unwary traveller who feels marooned in the middle of a sea of bikes. "Don't ever step back" were the wise words of our Imaginative Traveller tour leader on Day 1 of our 10 day Vietnamese adventure. Wise words indeed; move gently ahead or stop and the mass of mobility will flow around you. The most memorable I am yet to see on a scooter is Dad driving, the 2 year old in a high seat by the handlebars and Mum bottle-feeding the baby. Every second scooter carries a Tet "Happy New Year" Tree, either a pink flowered peach tree or a glorious cumquat tree, vervant green with deep orange fruit. "Chuc Mung Nam Moi", or 'Happy New Year' is on everone's tongue.
This is a wonderful festive season and our group are so lucky to be travelling the length of Vietnam through the New Year festivities. Yes, this causes a few hassles, banks closed, ATMs short of cash and many shops shut, BUT and it is a positive but, the traveller sees Vietnam and its charming people at their very best.
Our group spent two days exploring the delights of Hanoi, learning to dodge the scooters in the narrow alleys of the crumbling old town and also enjoying a great night out on a live aboard boat in Halong Bay. Next stop - the Reunification Express en route to Hue!
Charlie is currently taking our Best of Cambodia & Vietnam tour (in reverese)
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