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Happy New Year / Gung hei fat choi

Happy New Year / Gung hei fat choi

Miss R and I have somehow managed to achieve the very tricky feat of “celebrating” the New Year in two different countries, both of which aren’t really that bothered with the respective version of the New Year celebrations.

We saw in 1 January 2006 – the Western New Year, if you will – with twenty-odd cousins and friends on the rooftop bar of the Majestic Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam. While they had organised a special “New Year celebration” for non-native-Vietnamese folk (for the outrageous sum of US$35 per person), it gradually became clear that they had no real idea what you were meant to do.

The entertainment consisted of a house band (average age of sixty) playing all sorts of bizarre songs with the singer doing his best to sing songs that were clearly not in his native language (although to be fair his English singing is far better than my Vietnamese singing. Or my English singing, for that matter) and the ultimate came when he launched into the teen-rebellion anthem Born To Be Wild – complete with Black-Panther-style salute.

Accompanying the band were a group of five Vietnamese dancers who performed some kind of dance while the band played mostly Western songs. The silly thing is that when I clambered up and down balconies later to take pictures of Saigon celebrating the Western New Year, I totally failed to notice that my backside was pressed against their changing room, where they were changing costumes.

The masses gathering at the Saigon riverfront on New Years' EveWhile us tourists were up on the rooftop bar gamefully getting into the spirit of the New Year – down below, it seemed the whole of Saigon had all massed on their motorcycles onto the riverside for no apparent reason. There was a seething mass of people – but there were no fireworks, nothing to look at. Not even a clock. The only sign that midnight was upon us was when an LED clock at the hotel suddenly lit up, and started counting down from ten to one. And thus it was 2006, to the tune of the hitherto unknown Abba song Happy New Year – complete with screeching vocal, which I then sang every time I was bored for the next ten days.

Lunar / Asian / Chinese New Year

This weekend saw the beginning of the Year of the Dog. Thus while we were in Asia for the Western New Year, Miss R and I found ourselves with my sisters and their partners “celebrating” the Chinese New Year in … Milton Keynes.

However, since the point of the Chinese New Year is to celebrate and spend time with your loved ones and family, we kinda upheld the tradition. Although in lieu of fireworks, discos and dancing dragons, we instead compared photos from our Vietnam / Cambodia / Hong Kong trip, swapped some gossip, and ended up watching some home videos from our Christmas celebrations circa 1993. Rather depressing – did I really think I was going to pull with long hair, and huge round glasses?

We did, of course, go out for a good Chinese dinner. Some things are just sacrosanct.


  • I haven't done a damn thing for Chinese New Year this year. I usually at least buy myself some Asian sweets. Well, there's time yet. Maybe I can get some candied lotus. 😀

  • Arcane Thrust

    I spent the majority of Chinese New Year underneath Trafalgar Square attempting to map the geonome of the colour red. Instead, all I managed to do was turn a badger into a cadbury flake. Most annoying.

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