Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

By Quynh Tran    January 21, 2020 | 08:00 pm GMT+7
Saigon’s famous Nguyen Hue walking street has undergone its annual transformation into a floral boulevard for Tet, with giant rats in the forefront.
Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

The Nguyen Hue Flower Street, one of the biggest annual events in Vietnam’s southern metropolis heralding the Lunar New Year, Tet, is nearly ready after half a month of hard work.

This year, the flower street will open to the public from 7 p.m. on Wednesday, two days before the Lunar New Year's Eve, and close on Tuesday next week. The Year of the Rat starts this Saturday.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

The 720-meter flower street stretches from the City Hall on Le Thanh Ton Street to Ton Duc Thang Street by the Saigon River. A day before its opening, the pedestrian street is a patchwork of bright colors.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

A family of cheerful rats welcomes visitors with a music performance. The father rat, three meters tall, leads the music team which includes the 2.5-meter tall mother rat and several little mice with an average height of 1.5 meters.  
According to the owner of the workshop responsible for designing the zodiac animal of this year's flower street, the mascots were inspired by folk culture.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

A big scene on the flower street shows rats participating in traditional boat race on a river of flowers. Boat races are a popular festive activity in southern Vietnam.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

Smiling rats carry banh chung (square sticky rice cake) and banh tet (cylindrical sticky rice cake), traditional Tet dishes, on shoulder poles. One rat does the hoops.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

The famous Dong Ho painting, "The Rat's Wedding," is presented under an arch of chrysanthemums. This is a very popular motif representing Vietnamese folk culture. The art of Dong Ho paintings originated in the eponymous craft village in Bac Ninh Province in northern Vietnam.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

Le Van Ve, 50, works on the "Water forest" scene. This is the first time the flower street will feature a forest and a water curtain to form a miniature ecosystem.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

An 'environment' scene in the making, aiming to highlight the need for recycling and waste treatment, water conservation, and forest protection.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

A five-fruit tray, a traditional Tet offering placed on Vietnamese altars, is put in the center of the flower street. Typically, the five fruits are custard apple, papaya, mango, coconut and fig. The fruit tray represents remembrance of ancestors as well as wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

"I am preparing to present products of a hi-tech flower garden. Many fruits and horticultural products of Da Lat, like strawberries, orchids and carnations will be presented here," said Le Thien Viet Hung, 40, as he arranged pots of strawberry plants. This is the sixth year that Hung has joined the team to decorate the flower street.

Giant rats take pride of place on Saigon’s pride

At the end the flower streets, another family of rats bid farewell to visitors.

Saigon's flower street first opened in 2002. It has since become a part of the country's celebration of its biggest and most important festival.

 
 
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