Cruise ship Aida Bella brings nearly 2,000 European visitors on last day of lunar year

Friday, 09/02/2024 23:04
According to VNA, cruise ship Aida Bella docked at Phu Quoc island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, bringing 1,979 European tourists to the “pearl island” on February 9, or the last day of the lunar year.
Cruise ship Aida Bella docks at Phu Quoc island on February 9 (Photo: VNA) 

The group are scheduled to explore Phu Quoc night market, Vinwonders entertainment complex, and Vinpearl Safari, take cable cars to Hon Thom island, and visit Hon (kissing) bridge.

They will also enjoy the best beaches of Phu Quoc and small islands, visit traditional craft villages, and try local dishes before leaving the island at night on the same day.

Earlier on February 2, Italian-flagged cruise ship Costa Serena also carried 1,100 foreign tourists to Phu Quoc.

Bui Quoc Thai, Director of the Kien Giang Department of Tourism, said that since the beginning of this year, especially on the threshold of the Lunar New Year (Tet) holidays, Phu Quoc has welcomed a large number of foreign tourists, signaling a good year for the local tourism sector.

So far this year, the famous tourist destination has served more than 502,000 travelers, including 82,615 foreigners, up 6.1% year on year, earning about 1.76 trillion VND (72.05 million USD).

Thua Thien-Hue lures tourists with Tet experience tours

Tours offering foreign tourists with brand-new experience of local life during the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival have become special products of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue in recent days.

Foreign tourists experience making Chung cake (Photo: VNA) 

At Tram Homestay in Hue city, the owner's family and a group of foreigners were making Chung (glutinous rice) cake and prepare for Tet like a big family.

Anton Schoderboeck from Australia said that he is strongly impressed at the sophisticated steps to make a Chung cake, adding that he had lots of fun joining the process.

The owner of the homestay, Dinh Thi Phuong Thy, said that she has planned various activities for visitors, especially foreigners, to experience traditional Tet practices such as making Chung cake and writing calligraphy. All the 300 Chung cakes made on this occasion will be delivered to the needy in the locality, she said.

Foreign tourists enjoy calligraphy art (Photo: VNA) 

This year, the ancient capital city of Hue expects a bright year for its tourism sector, as it has been voted as a world leading cultural destination and one of the must-visit destinations in Asia.

During this Tet holidays, local travel firms have designed unique cultural products drawing great attention from tourists, including tours to explore Tet at local families, during which tourists will join the families in preparing for Tet, going to traditional markets to buy Tet stuff and decorate houses before Tet.

In the first month of 2024, Thua Thien-Hue enjoyed a surge of 25% in the number of tourists over the same time last year.

The local tourism sector expects a bustling season during the traditional New Year holidays.

Director of the Provincial Tourism Department Nguyen Van Phuc said that local resorts and hotels have been booked by 65%. Local relic sites are likely to welcome about 100 visitors each day during Tet from February 7-15, with foreigners accounting for 55%, he said.

Cuban doctors celebrate Vietnamese Tet

For Cuban doctors the experience of celebrating the Lunar New Year, known locally as Tet, provokes interesting emotions, with the festive period reminding them of their homeland, reported VOV.

Cuban doctors celebrate Vietnamese Tet 

Cuban doctors at the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital in central Quang Binh province celebrate Vietnamese Tet.

The Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital in central Quang Binh province is a facility that Cuban leader Fidel Castro pledged to help Vietnam during his historical trip to the liberated area in South Vietnam in September, 1973. Indeed, it is regarded as a ‘gem’ of the friendship between the two countries.

At the height of the anti-US resistance war, Castro became the first foreign leader to set foot on one of the fiercest battlefields at the time, visiting Quang Binh province and the newly-liberated area in Quang Tri.

He was very touched when witnessing the hardship and dramatic losses that the Vietnamese people had been suffering. This led him to decide to help the nation build a modern hospital in Dong Hoi of Quang Binh province to serve local people and soldiers returning from southern battle fields.

Eight months after this historic trip, the construction of the Vietnam – Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital began with the participation of more than 100 experts and workers, together with machines, equipment, and food transported all the way from Cuba.

After seven years of construction, the hospital was inaugurated on September 9, 1981. With 462 beds, 19 departments, and very modern equipment for the time, the hospital has served as a spearhead in the provincial health care system ever since.

Currently, Cuba continues to dispatch many doctors and medical experts to work alongside the Vietnamese medical team, working at this hospital day and night to examine and treat thousands of patients. Dr. Alfredo Garcia Mirete is an oncologist who has many interesting feelings about Tet.

Dr. Alfredo said that perhaps Tet is the most important day for Vietnamese people, meaning that the atmosphere is both very busy and bustling. He also loves Vietnamese women even more during these festive days.

Before Tet, he had seen many women working day and night in order to go to the market, clean the house, and shop for all sorts of things to prepare for welcoming guests on Tet.

Dr. Alfredo has worked for four years at the Vietnam - Cuba Friendship Hospital. On the days leading up to Tet, he and his colleagues go to the market and everyone helps him to buy banh chung (square cake), prepare traditional dishes such as ginger jam, pickles, and especially decorate the Vietnamese Tet space with peaches, apricot, and kumquat branches.

He remembers that the first year he celebrated Tet in Vietnam, his colleagues at the hospital bought him colourful decorative tureens that were very pleasing to the eye.

He understood that these tureens record the wishes of Vietnamese people sending good things to everyone such as good health and good fortune.

After Tet, Cuban doctors took down the hanging tureens and carefully stored them in cabinets, occasionally bringing them out to look at them. Over the following years, Cuban doctors also bought apricot and peach branches and decorated them to make the Tet atmosphere even more colourful and cheerful.

The Cuban doctor enjoys talking about Vietnamese Tet culture, saying that, "I see that many people have started preparing for Tet and it is a very wonderful culture. Most importantly, Vietnamese people respect and remember their ancestors on Tet, which is very wonderful and unlike Cuban culture. In the days near Tet, I walked around many streets, went to the market to shop and saw people go to the market to shop a lot."

The first year when Prof. Dr. Jesus De Los Santos Reno Cespedes came to Vietnam to work at the Oncology Department under the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital, he went to the Tet market in Quang Binh.

When he was standing in front of Dong Hoi market gate, a local girl came to give him a small kumquat tree. Even though he didn't know Vietnamese, he understood that this was a gift that the little girl had given him for Tet. When he understood the meaning of playing with kumquat trees on Tet, he became even more grateful for the gift.

After Tet of that year, Dr. Jesus planted the kumquat tree in the hospital compound and it is now blooming and bearing fruit.

The Cuban doctor said that, unlike in Cuban culture, on the first days of the new year Vietnamese people hold parties at home and then visit each other over the following days to wish each other a happy new year. Dr. Jesus seemed excited when he said that on Tet, many Vietnamese colleagues invited him to their house for Tet celebrations.

“During Tet, I was invited by my colleagues at the Vietnam - Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital to come home, attend a party and I feel the warm atmosphere of a Vietnamese house. I remember most clearly last year's Tet, when my colleagues and my family went to look for bamboo trees to plant bamboo trees, and then hung the flags of the two countries in the specialist housing area on the hospital campus,” said Dr. Jesus.

In front of the Cuban doctors' public house area, Cuban doctors placed potted plants beautifully decorated with rows of multicoloured lights. People organise a year-end party with banh chung, pickled onions, frozen meat, pork sausage, and chicken.

Dr. Nguyen Pham Tuan of the Vietnam - Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital has been closely associated with Cuban doctors working at this hospital for many years. Every year on Tet, Dr. Tuan pays New Year visits to his Cuban colleagues.

“In the days leading up to Tet, we always try to get closer to the Cuban doctors because at that time the feeling of missing our loved ones and missing our homeland is even more intense. We try to make up for Cuban doctors by organizing a year-end dinner for everyone to enjoy family warmness, decorating room and placing apricot and kumquat trees so they could feel the Vietnamese Tet.

Hospital leaders also pay New Year visits and give New Year wishes and lucky money to Cuban doctors. Over the past five to six years, it seems that Cuban doctors have integrated with Vietnamese culture," Dr. Tuan shared.

Since the day Vietnam - Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital welcomed Cuban medical experts to work and provide medical support, thousands of patients in Quang Binh province have been saved in dangerous situations.

The job of the Cuban doctors is to support medical professionals at the hospital in rescuing patients in cases that require high technology. The site is therefore a noble symbol of the time-honoured friendship of the two countries both in the past and at present.

Dr. Tran Thi Son Tra, deputy director of Vietnam - Cuba Friendship Dong Hoi Hospital, said that Cuban experts also consider Vietnamese Tet as their special occasion. Cuban people are very friendly, meaning that when being invited to savour traditional Vietnamese dishes during Tet, they feel very excited and want to sample them such as banh chung, frozen meat, or spring rolls.

Traditional Tet dishes introduced to int’l friends in New York

As the Lunar New Year (Tet) is just around the corner, the Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the United Nations in New York held an event on February 7 to introduce traditional Tet dishes of Vietnam and celebrate the recognition of the Lunar New Year as a UN floating holiday, reported VNA.

Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang (first, left) and his spouse prepare and introduce traditional Tet dishes of Vietnam to the guests at the event on February 7. 

The banquet was attended by a number of diplomats in New York, including ambassadors and chargés d’affaires of all missions of the member and observer countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Vietnamese National Assembly delegation attending a joint Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) - UN hearing, and the ASEAN Chair’s special envoy Myanmar.

Highlighting the importance of Tet in the traditional culture of Vietnam and many Asian countries, Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, expressed his hope that in the Year of the Dragon 2024, member states of the UN, especially the ASEAN Committee in New York, will continue strengthening cooperation and solidarity and jointly seek solutions to global challenges, thus contributing a world of peace, stability, and sustainable development.

At the event, the ambassador, his spouse, and staff members of the Vietnamese mission prepared and offered the country’s traditional and typical Tet dishes to the guests.

On December 22, 2023, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the Lunar New Year as a UN floating holiday. The resolution says this is a holiday in many member states and also encourages UN agencies not to hold meetings on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

The recognition came as a result of the campaigning coordination at the UN. Vietnam was one of the 12 countries submitting the joint proposal on this regard to UN leaders in August 2023 and also actively campaigned for the recognition./.

Compiled by BTA