Tottering Tet Trees!

by aengelson | January 28th, 2011

Well, Tet (the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration) is almost upon us, and that means the Vietnamese are getting busy. Buying presents. Buying heaps of snacks and beer. Getting ready to travel to their home towns to be with family. And buying kumquat trees.

The leafy trees with bright orange fruit (they seem more like mandarin oranges than kumquats, but who’s one  to quibble) are basically Vietnam’s equivalent of the Christmas tree. The live potted trees decorate home and businesses and in the weeks leading up to Tet, you’ll see plenty of the trees speeding around Hanoi. Some make their way via truck, but most are strapped on to the back of motorbikes, and it’s a favorite pastime of mine to see just how enormous a tree can fit on on Honda Wave…

We’re off to Bali for our Tet holiday, I may post some updates as we travel, so stay tuned! Chuc munh nam moi!

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About This Site

Andy Engelson is a writer and editor who lives in Hanoi, Vietnam. He's currently working on a historical novel set in the Northwest United States during World War II. He's also a freelance writer, essayist and member of the Hanoi Writer's Collective. In a former life, he edited Washington Trails magazine for six years and before that was freelance journalist. He likes to hike, travel, and play with his family.

Quotable

Do the barnacle larvae care? Does the lacewing who eats her eggs care? If they do not care, then why am I making all this fuss? If I am a freak, then why don’t I hush?
Our excessive emotions are so patently painful and harmful to us as a species that I can hardly believe that they evolved. Other creatures manage to have effective matings and even stable societies without great emotions, and they have a bonus in that they need not ever mourn. (But some higher animals have emotions that we think are similar to ours: dogs, elephants, otters, and the sea mammals mourn their dead. Why do that to an otter? What creator would be so cruel, not to kill otters, but to let them care?) It would seem that emotions are the curse, not death—emotions that appear to have devolved upon a few freaks as a special curse from Malevolence.
All right then. It is our emotions that are amiss. We are freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state. We can leave the library then, go back to the creek lobotomized, and live on its banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed. You first.
— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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