Floating under the moonlight to Hanoi's Perfume Pagoda

By Giang Huy   February 21, 2018 | 11:59 am GMT+7

Tens of thousands are getting up in the small hours this year to make the pilgrimage by boat and celebrate the spring festival.

The festival at Huong, or Perfume Pagoda, one of the top destinations of Hanoi, is most-crowded right after Tet as tens of thousands people gather for its spring festival that will last until the third lunar month, or mid-April. To get to the pagoda, people need to take a boat ride along Yen Stream in My Duc District and this year, many people have decided to sail since the first hours of a new day to avoid the heat and the crowd in daylight.

The Perfume Pagoda (Huong) festival is one of the most popular in Hanoi, and tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage after Tet (Lunar New Year) to celebrate the spring festival that will last until the third lunar month, or mid-April. To get to the pagoda, people need to take a boat along Yen Stream in My Duc District, and this year, many people have decided to set sail in the early hours to avoid the heat and crowds.

As an agricultural country with a long history of wet rice cultivation, Vietnamese people in the past allowed themselves to take a break with work for a month since Tet, when they celebrate a new lunar year. Until today, when the country has been more or less industrialized, many people still live up to the saying thang gieng la thang an choi (the first lunar month is the month of partying) and here they are: as many as 50,000 locals gather at piers along Yen Stream to sail to Perfume Pagoda on Tuesday.

As an agricultural country with a long history of rice cultivation, Vietnamese people used to take a month off for Tet to celebrate a new lunar year. Even now as the country becomes ever more industrialized, many people still stick to the saying: “Thang gieng la thang an choi” (the first lunar month is the month for partying). Around 50,000 locals gathered at piers along Yen Stream to sail to the Perfume Pagoda on Tuesday.

By early Wednesday, hundreds of boats have been ready to carry passengers to the pagoda.

In the early hours of Wednesday, hundreds of boats sit ready to carry passengers to the pagoda.

These days, people start to book a ride since 2 a.m. and a huge crowd is common scene by 4:30 a.m. says Hung, a boat rider.

“People are booking boats from 2 a.m., and huge crowds are a common scene by 4:30 a.m.,” said Hung, a rower.

Each boat can carry 15-16 people at most.

Each boat can carry 15-16 people.

Ticket costs VND120,000-150,000 ($5-7) per person depending on the quality of the boat.

Tickets cost VND120,000-150,000 ($5-7) per person, depending on the boat.

It takes around one hour to get to the pagoda and boat riders have to be careful so that they will not hit other boat in the night.

It takes around one hour to get to the pagoda, and rowers have to be careful to avoid hitting other boats in the dark and foggy conditions.

I did not dare to ride a boat at night or early morning like this before but things have got much easier now. Riding a boat this time is more comfortable as there are fewer boats and we can move faster, says Sang, a boat rider who has been carrying passengers on Yen Stream for three years.

“I never used to set out at night or in the early morning, but things have got much easier now. Rowing at this time is actually better as there are fewer boats and I can go faster,” said Sang, a rower who has been carrying passengers on Yen Stream for three years.

Boat riders almost work around the clock during this occasion.

Rowers work nearly around the clock at this time of year.

 
 
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