Foreigners eat up Vietnam's Tet atmosphere

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Tomizawa Mamoru and his Japanese family have been making Vietnamese traditional Tet foods including banh tet and thit kho Tau every year since they settled in Ho Chi Minh City in 2001.

Many foreigners like Mamoru have fallen in love with the traditional holiday since moving here.

Mamoru came to Vietnam in 1995 to look for a job when the Japanese economy hit a slump. He ended up opening the Overland Club on Huynh Khuong Ninh in District 1 to teach Vietnamese cuisine and pottery to foreigners.

In preparation for the Lunar New Year holiday, Mamoru’s wife Yuki has made banh Tet (glutinous rice cakes), the traditional Tet food in the south, alongside thit kho Tau (braised pork and boiled eggs with coconut juice).

Mamoru said Ho Chi Minh City during Tet is peaceful. It is not busy, noisy or crowded like it normally is, he said. “I like that atmosphere.”

His family plans to visit pagodas and flower streets including Nguyen Hue on the first day of the lunar year, which is Sunday this year.

During the Lunar New Year holiday in Japan, people make Mochi, a traditional cake that looks like Vietnam’s banh day (round glutinous rice cake) and give Tet money to children, according to the couple.

Hari Chathrattil, a HCMC-based newspaper editor from India who has worked in Vietnam more than 10 years, said celebrating Vietnamese Tet has become a part of his life, especially since marrying a Vietnamese woman.

With many Tet experiences in Hanoi, Chathrattil said he really loves the holiday it has “the peace and charm that no one can resist.”

Reported by Kim - Nguyen Mi

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