By Tao Jun, Dong
HO CHI MINH CITY, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Yellow and red flowers, fruits and ornamental trees, including unique ones from Vietnam and China, were dominating displays in many markets here on Tet, the Lunar New Year.
In the flower market temporarily formed before Tet, the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, which will wrap up on Feb. 1, yellow kumquats, the little gold gems of the citrus family, apricot blossoms, and marigolds could be seen everywhere in the September 20 Park Ho Chi Minh City.
Pink, red and peach blossoms transported from Vietnam's northern region or China were not the main colors of choice, but were also luring many local buyers.
"Some days ago, I spent over one million Vietnamese dong (some 50 U.S. dollars) buying an apricot tree full of flowers because yellow apricot blossoms are a symbol of Tet in the southern region like peach blossoms are in the northern region," 50-year-old Saigonese accountant, Nguyen Thi Phuong, told Xinhua.
"Now, seeing all the bargains, I want to buy a Chinese red peach tree," she said, pointing to the little low tree with impressive red flowers.
In addition to Chinese red peach trees, some other Chinese ornamental trees were selling like hot cakes, not only in parks in Ho Chi Minh City, but also in other Vietnamese localities, especially in the capital city of Hanoi.
In the flower and ornamental tree market near the traditional silk village of Van Phuc in Hanoi, a species of tree, whose scientific name is Ardisia crenata, but known locally as "kim ngan luong", were on display in large quantities.
Each tree has hundreds of small, shining red fruits hanging loosely around its trunk from the middle section downward.
"Kim ngan luong are Vietnamese words of Chinese origin meaning gold and silver, so it is considered a feng shui tree which is believed to bring prosperity and luck. This species is grown in some Asian countries, but we always import the most beautiful trees from China," the shop's owner Nguyen Van Manhtold Xinhua.
"This Tet, our shop has sold over 100 trees at prices of around 300,000 Vietnamese dong (some 13 U.S. dollars) each," the shop owner said.
The Hanoian man with a weather-beaten face pointed at a young woman who was putting two "kimngan luong" high trees in her car trunk and said: "She works for a state-owned bank and told me that she will offer that pair of trees to her boss on the occasion of Tet."
Besides flowers which are thought to bring luck and prosperity, fruits with unique characteristics were also selling well during Tet.
An ordinary coconut is priced at some 15,000 Vietnamese dong (around 0.6 U.S. dollars), but this Tet, some Vietnamese farmers have succeeded in creating coconuts whose shells have been developed into characters and sold them for about 300,000 Vietnamese dong (13.5 U.S. dollars) each.
"This Tet, I have sold over 2,200 coconut trees with the characters "Tai-Loc" to traders in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. And they can sell them at much higher prices," 31-year-old farmer, Huynh Thanh Tam, from ChauThanh town in the southern Ben Tre province, said.
Tam said he started to make the special coconut trees in 2014. He conducted research himself and used various kinds of molds to create characters on the coconuts' shells.
After dozens of failures over a period of two years, he succeeded at last.
"I choose the two characters 'Tai-Loc' because many Vietnamese people want to have 'Tai" and "Loc', especially on the occasion of Tet," he said. The two Vietnamese characters have Chinese origin and they mean money and perquisite.
Other Vietnamese farmers have managed to grow other kinds of fruits with images or characters on their shells or skins. And the most common image is a rooster because this lunar new year is the year of rooster.
In southern Tien Giang province, the 26-member fruit club in Phu Tan commune, Chau Thanh district has produced 3,300 "Tai-Loc" grapefruits and calabash tree fruits.
"We sell a pair of "Dao tien" (crescentia cujete, more commonly known as the calabash tree that is native to Central and South America) at prices of 0.5-1 million Vietnamese dong (22.4-44.8 U.S. dollars)," said the club's chairman Vo Trung Thanh.
According to another Vietnamese farmer named Vo Hong Quoc, local people often grow "Dao tien" as an ornamental tree or make traditional medicine from the tree.
"Its fruit is round, but this Tet I made them shaped like a gourd with two distinctive parts. Next Tet, I will shape them like gold bars to sell them at higher prices," the 77-year-old man said.