|Nothing says "You Are Now Entering An Asian Festival" than a collection of hanging rice patty hats.|
Or also Chinese Lunar New Year. Before I go into the details of the terrifying entity that is the Tet festival, let me give you some background information. The Vietnamese New Year (Tet) fell on Sunday, February 10th this year (aka yesterday). Now in celebration for Asian New Year as I call it, we Viets practice certain traditions like go to temple, play this gambling dice game, eat a lot, and get our fortunes told for the upcoming year.
There's a lot of gold and red colors, a lot of girls in the traditional Vietnamese dress, the ao dai, and people just being Asian. In years past my mom had taken me to small centers where Vietnamese people would gather and sell banh mi and pho and cha gio and girls would do this dance in their dresses and rice patty hats. Last year I took all my friends out to eat Asian food and gave them each a little red envelope with money in it (also a blessed tradition for us youngsters in need of money).
I had never actually been to a Tet festival, however. This was the real deal. I mean it is in the middle of Little Saigon in Orange County. When I agreed to go with my cousin and her boyfriend, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. I don't think you understand– I come from North Carolina, where I was usually the only diversity in my class and the Asian population was only 1%. I felt more of a culture shock in Little Saigon than when I first moved to Los Angeles. Hell, it was more of a culture shock when I visited Australia for three weeks.
Picture this: hundreds of Asians on some random high school's field that got turned into a carnival. Yes, this festival was CIRCUS THEMED...because naturally Vietnamese culture and the circus life go together. Seriously, what is the connection? I don't get it. There was a ferris wheel and a booth selling bubble tea and Pokemon t-shirts right next to each other. I started getting a headache from my surroundings just approaching the ticket booth. If anything I only learned how appallingly bad my Vietnamese has become. Here were some thoughts that crossed my mind throughout the day:
Are those rice patty hats hanging above the entrance?
Is this real life?
Where is the food?
Welp, those kids are dressed like dragons...
Is that Mulan?
Seriously, where is the food?
Oh, here it is...since when are hamburgers, fries and popcorn chicken Vietnamese?
This is a twinkie festival (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).
There is a vendor that is just literally selling cooked ramen.
Do I have to talk to these people in Vietnamese?
Okay, now that I've got the food, where are we going to sit?
Omg, these people are sitting on the ground in the Asian squat!!!
I should have brought some newspapers to put our food on too...we're terrible Asians.
Hmm...the "Cultural Center" sounds cool, let's go there.
|The infamous "Cultural Center," where all the seats were tied together to prevent people from stealing them. I think some girls were on stages dancing with fans.|
I can't believe I'm watching kids do karate with sticks on stage.
It's like mini Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
WHY is this festival circus themed?!
Awesome– this man can read my fortune for a small donation!
...I have no idea what he's saying. Speak slower!
Sweet Buddha, there is a chicken coop here.
Everyone looks alike.
Well, it's obvious that women aren't allowed in this game.
Where did my cousin go? Oh, right behind the Asian Danny Zuko.
This place is giving me a migraine.
You can tell who's white in the crowd because they tower over everyone else.
Am I being racist? Probably.
Can we get the hell out of here?
Thankfully, we salvaged what was remaining of the New Year by getting sloshed at a local dive bar near Hollywood. And look on the bright side– it was a cultural experience (one that I probably will never attend again), and it is a chance to start the year off to a fresh new start again in case January got off on the wrong foot.
|This had be dying laughing. It says "Fried Chicken" in Vietnamese. You know you're in Little Saigon when...|