During The COVID-19 Pandemic
By: Megan Rees
An Expat in Vietnam During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Back To Normal?
The clamoring sounds of drums and squawking horns filled the street, outside my window. I know what it means: a funeral. I can see the family members and friends of the deceased all wearing white, parading behind this tragic tune. It was a symbol to me, a sign that life in Hanoi, Vietnam, was starting to return to normal, or so I thought.
Tết, is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. It is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. During the New Year festival it is normal to see Hanoi go from a busy, polluted city to a ghost town. It is the time when the Vietnamese pay respects to their ancestors, as well as welcoming the lunar New Year with family members. I love the city at this time of year. Hanoi is vibrant and colorful, every space is decked out in multi-colored lights. People are happy. There are elaborate floral decorations with signs everywhere proclaiming, “Chúc mùng năm mới!” (Happy New Year). Hanoi becomes festive and that warm holiday feeling fills the air.
A Slow Down
Then, the town gets quiet. Everything slows down. The typical commotion is muted. City streets are noticeably subdued and traffic is light. It is a nice break from the usual hustle and bustle sounds of a rapidly developing metropolis. The holiday itself was relaxing. It is typical for families to come together over big meals to welcome the New Year. I had dinner on New Year’s Day with my adopted Vietnamese family; it was great for the world to stop for a while. It was exactly what I needed. But, there was an urgency, I needed to start working again.