The Vietnamese prepared for the celebration of their lunar New Year, or Tet, on Wednesday (28 January) with the country at peace for the first time for over 20 years.
GV Nguyen Hue street in Saigon.
SV Model dragon on top of lorry going down street.
CU People walking and traffic in street.
SV PAN AND CUS Flower market. (2 shots)
CU Shoppers browsing through market. (2 shots)
CU Child picking up loose flowers.
SV Man driving scatter with plant on back.
SV AND CU Water melons unloaded from lorry. (2 shots)
SV PAN FROM Loads of pineapples arriving PAN TO watermelons on display.
CU PAN INT. House as head of family presents water-melon to mother who decorates altar.
UC Wife decorating altar.
SV AND CU Head of family in front of picture of Ho Chi Minh. (2 shots)
SV AND CU Mother praying in front of altar. (3 shots)
Initials VS 20.25 VS 20.45
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Background: The Vietnamese prepared for the celebration of their lunar New Year, or Tet, on Wednesday (28 January) with the country at peace for the first time for over 20 years.
Instead of a time for celebration, the New Year had been a time of tension, especially since the bloody Viet Cong offensive in 1968, in which Communist troops nearly captured Saigon.
As a result the former South Vietnamese government stepped up security over the new year period leaving an air of tension over the city.
People wishing to travel to see relatives in the provinces ran the risk of ambush and violent death.
But since the takeover of Saigon in April 1975, the gradual return to normal life by the war-weary people means Tet this year will take on almost a new meaning.
The Saigon markets are full of people buying flowers and gifts and the traditional Tet food, watermelons.
This time they are not watched by armed troops, and the threat of war has gone.
SYNOPSIS: For the first time for as long as many Vietnamese, especially from the south, can remember, preparations for this year's lunar New Year, or Tet, are without the threat of war or attack.
This time of celebrations had been particularly tense since the bloody Communist offensive in nineteenth sixty eight, when the Viet Cong nearly captured Saigon.
As a result of the nineteen-sixty-eight Viet Cong attack, in which thousands died in the fighting, the former South Vietnamese government stepped up security, during Tet and the people went about their preparations under the eyes of armed soldiers, adding to the tension and constant fear of violence.
But after the takeover of Saigon in April last year, and the gradual return to normal under one government, people prepared for this year's celebration with renewed enthusiasm.
Shoppers bought flowers and gifts, and plenty of the traditional Tet food -- watermelons
Tet, like Christmas in Christian communities is mainly an occasion for the children, all of whom would be too young to have known a new year without fear of war.
This is the home of Doctor Tran Cuu Kieng, who for thirty years tended sick and wounded National Liberation Front soldiers in the Vietnamese jungles. This is his first Tet, reunited with his family in Saigon, since he left to fight with the Communists.
Here his wife prepares the family's ancestral altar for the Tet celebrations, which this year fell on January the thirty first.