By Robert Bicknell

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January 31, 2007 - Tet

Tet 2007...revenge of the Banh Chung

It just wouldn’t be Tet if I didn’t make my usual banh chung comment, so lets get it over with quickly and move on to other things.

To set the record straight once and for all, banh chung are, wait, let me put my glasses on... "an important part of Vietnamese culture and tradition. Adored by young and old alike, the banh chung is a symbol of Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year."

Yes, I totally agree with the above statement, but I must also point out that if the Three Little Pigs had built their house out of blocks of banh chung instead of screwing around with straw and sticks, the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t have been able to blow it down with a nuclear warhead.


Tet is the beginning of a new year according to the Lunar calendar, but it is more than that. It’s a time of renewal, of rebirth, of growing. It is a time for family gatherings and renewing old acquaintances, something that is vitally important to the preservation of the family unit as more and more people work further from home.

Its also the time for the younger generation to take up a collection of red envelopes (Li Si) full of "lucky money". Having said that, make sure you get to the bank early to get new notes.

Tet offers the prospect that things will be better than the year before. In essence, Tet is a re-boot of the entire system, another chance to get it right.

Tet also offers the single most important thing possible to any living, conscious being...hope and of all the people in the world, besides my editor who is hoping that my attacks on the banh chung are finished for the year, it is generally golfers who depend on hope the most.

Which is totally illogical given the circumstances. Consider. A businessman relies on statistics, cold logic and rational decision making abilities to ensure their company remains successful and they continue to have a job which puts food on the table for the family.

Yet, all these analytical abilities fly straight out the window the moment they pick up a golf club. They ignore the statistical fact that they have never, reached a par five in two shots, yet will stand in the fairway from over 270 yards out and wait for the green to clear. The group behind on the tee also knows the statistics and begins shouting terrible things about the player’s parents.

They hope that this will be the year that they achieve a personal best scoring average without bothering to practice or take a few lessons. They hope that the new set of clubs they bought will solve all their problems and, despite the equipment manufacturers sometimes outrageous claims of being able to turn a weekend hacker into Tiger Woods, they might actually shave off a stroke or two.

Golfers always hope that their ball bounced off a fish and back onto land, or off the tree back into the fairway, or off the OB stake and back into play.

It is illogical, but very human.

A dog will look at someone eating dinner and, despite the fact that the person has never given them so much as a scrap in the past, continue to hope that good will shall triumph in the long run. Dogs are the ultimate optimists and would be superb golfers, if they only had a thumb.

In the past, many expats returned to their own country for Tet, but in recent years we’ve seen more and more people staying in Vietnam as it has truly become a second home to many of us. Therefore, it might be smart to make a booking with your favourite club as the courses might be more full than you expect.

Booking your favourite caddie in advance is also a good idea as many will take time to visit their families in different provinces. However, even with a confirmed caddie booking, don’t be too disappointed if your caddie develops a sudden case of the flu and requires an emergency leave of absence to their home province for a cure consisting of alcohol, banh chung, red envelopes and sympathetic family members.

After all, Tet in Vietnam is really about family.

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

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