From ant eggs to golden cakes: the Tet gifts Vietnamese are forking out in 2017

By VnExpress   January 8, 2017 | 03:27 pm GMT+7

Wondering how to bribe your Vietnamese father-in-law? We've got you covered.

Ant eggs

The hunt for shark fins and bird nest for fancy Tet gifts seems to be over this year, but ant eggs are being hunted for $20-25/kg, according to VTC News.

The nutritious, high-protein delicacy prized in Cambodia and Thailand is now advertised as a medicine in Vietnam, purportedly for treating erectile dysfunction.

No official study on ant eggs has found any evidence to this theory, yet Vietnamese men are purchasing fermented ant eggs in rice wine for $40-130 per 5 liter, stated VTC News.

Ant eggs hunters told VnExpress only eggs from black carpenters or weaver ants are edible. The eggs are rare since they only nest from March to May, but fortunately their eggs can be stored in the fridge year-round.

Families in the central forests of Quang Nam and Binh Dinh have been making a living for several years by foraging for ant nests, despite being hospitalized by their bites.

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Filtering waste and ants from the eggs in Binh Dinh. Photo by VnExpress/Tri Tin

Ancient ochna trees

When branches and blossoms are not enough to show off wealth, Saigonese bring home trunks and roots.

This Tet, decades-old ochna trees, or mai in Vietnamese, are selling for up to $40,000 at Nguyen Nhat Khanh’s garden in Thu Duc District.

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An 80-year-old mai tree stretches to 6 meters and soars up to 7 meters. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

“Roots count. The wider, the more twisted, the rougher the roots are, the more expensive,” Khanh said.

Edible gold-plated cakes

A Japanese cake shop in Ho Chi Minh City took classy consumption to the next level this Tet by appealing to customers with gold-plated cakes.

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A package of gold-plated cakes. Photo by VnExpress/Vien Thong

A Golden Fruit Pound Cake weighs 0.47 kg and is priced at $90-180/package. A store representative said the price is quite reasonable.

The glowing package has already attracted around 100 orders, Danh Thanh, the store’s PR representative proudly said, adding that the cakes imported from France are the most competitive Tet gifts in Ho Chi Minh this year.

Peacocks

Rare birds such as black, long-tailed or nine-toed chickens no longer cut the mustard when it comes to unique Tet gifts.

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Giap and one of his peacocks. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tam

Peacocks, compared to any kind of chicken, are the next level of wealth and luxury for many Hanoians. “Peacocks have tails of coin-like feathers, which appeal to many people as an auspicious feng shui symbol,” said Tran Nhu Giap, a breeder of 500 peacocks in Hanoi.

A male peacock with a two-meter long tail can sell for $600 at Giap’s farm, while buyers usually take a pair, just to suit their feng shui.

Chicken dollars

Lucky money doesn’t have to be expendable. For many collectors, colorful chicken-printed notes are being happily purchased at nine times higher their value. This year, a two U.S. dollar note with a glowing pair of chickens is selling for $18 in Ho Chi Minh city.

Nguyen Van Linh, a money dealer in Phu Nhuan District, told VnExpress: "I imported over 1,000 notes but they are all sold out”.

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Linh showing his chicken-printed two-dollar note. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Apart from chicken-printed notes, Linh said rare notes with auspicious serial numbers can also fetch around $90.

Nguyen Trung Truc, a 33-year-old customer from Ca Mau, said he had already bought 100 of the two-dollar chicken notes, and plans to buy 100 more for lucky money.

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A VND1,000 (4 cents) note worth $90. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

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