Day 13 – Happy Chinese New Year!

First of all, happy Chinese New Year to all! 2011 is the rabbit year, a lucky year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves, so congratulations and good luck to all those bunnies out there!

Getting ready to celebrate!

This day was very particular for each one of us, given the fact that it was our free day when we landed in Beijing.
Wake up call was at 3:00 AM and already at 4:00 AM we were on our way to Ho Chi Minh Airport. Everybody was very tired, but to our surprise some were still full of energy from the night before. Our flight was leaving at 7:05 AM so we had some time to sleep at the airport. After almost 3 hours of flight we made a “quick” (almost 1 hour) stop in Shenzhen, which resulted to be quite funny by the fact that we were asked to abandon the aircraft with all our belongings in order to pass security, while they were disinfecting the airplane. Apparently this is very common in China when a flight arrives from southern Asia. The Chinese tend to disinfect aircrafts arriving from these regions to prevent any germs and virus from entering the country. Afterwards we had another 3 hours flight until Beijing. When we arrived all noticed the drastic climate change, it was freezing cold! However, it was impressive to see parts of rivers frozen by the cold weather.

Chinese New Year

We were transferred to the Prime Hotel. The hotel was located in the center of Bejing, very near from the Wang Fu Jian district, Bejing’s most famous shopping street. After we checked-in into the hotel, everybody was free to plan their late afternoon. Some stayed sleeping, some went to shop in the center and others to explore and taste some odd delicacies at the special food street, as scorpions, maggots or snakes etc. Others passed their time bargaining for souvenirs at the Chinese market, which was also located in the Wang Fu Jian Street.

Christine Kolp, Corinne Bayer and Eléonore Ost

Day 12 – Chau Doc to Saigon & New Year

Day 12 started with a busride back to Saigon and the students had the rest of the day off. Since we had been in this hotel before, we all felt like coming back home. Some days before, many students had ordered a tailor to come to the hotel. By now on day 12, the suits, shirts & ties were delivered – some were ok, some were not.

The highlight of the day clearly was the new year spectacle.The

streets were jammed. Music at every corner, wild dragon dances and beautifully decorated trees let us feel the magic of Ho Chi Minh City. The park near us was packed with flowers, orange bushes and bonsai trees (a bit like their version of our christmas tree custom), the main street was also filled with flowers, lanterns and sculptures of all different sizes and colours, and there was a general party atmosphere.

The wonderful firework concluded the night and increased our excitement for the following adventures in Beijing.