by Tao Jun, Bui Long
HANOI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- After Vietnam's Olympic football squad secured the first-ever berth to Asiad semifinals on Monday night, many Vietnamese people and foreigners enjoyed an audio-visual feast across the country, full of red and yellow colors, and bizarre musical instruments.
Right after the Iranian referee blew the last whistle of the quarterfinal game between Vietnam and Syria at the ongoing 2018 Asian Games (Asiad) in Indonesia, tens of thousands of Vietnamese people, mostly youngsters, started to flood main streets in big cities and provinces across Vietnam.
"We will stay overnight to celebrate our victories. We have entered Asiad semifinals for the first time. We have achieved a five-match winning streak with a total of eight goals. We are the only team which has kept a clean sheet so far," Dong Phong, a student at the Hanoi College of Industry and Trade, told Xinhua on Monday night, on his way towards downtown Hanoi with his girlfriend on his modified motorbike.
Vietnamese people often call the act of driving motorized vehicles, mostly motorbikes, along streets to celebrate an important victory, mainly triumphs of the country's national football squad, "di bao", literally meaning "going like a storm."
The red "storm", or plethora of people holding Vietnam's national flags (a big yellow star in the middle of a red rectangle) or wrapping their bodies with the flags or gluing stickers of national flags or red hearts on their cheeks and foreheads, kicked off around 10 p.m (local time) on Monday and intensified through midnight, until finally dissipating early Tuesday morning.
"Generally speaking, people celebrated in a civilized manner. However, around 2 a.m. some fanatical youths raced their motorbikes on the streets. So we had to work until dawn," major Nguyen Tien Cu from the Mobile Police Regiment of Hanoi Police said on Tuesday morning. Besides traffic police officers, more than 500 mobile police officers were deployed in the capital city on Monday night and Tuesday early morning.
When sweeping through the main streets, especially those in Hanoi, central Da Nang city and southern Ho Chi Minh City, the red "storm" not only dyed the streets in red and yellow, but also treated passers-by with a harmony full of high pitches created by the mixture of terrific sounds of human screams, colorful plastic vuvuzelas, motorbike horns and exhausts, loudspeakers, and creative drums and cymbals made from pans, pots, plastic bottles and even gas cylinders.
"Neither drums or cymbals are available in my house. So I'm using this cooking pot as a drum, and a ladle as a drumstick. My daughter uses two lids of two pots as cymbals," banking clerk Nguyen Thu Huyen told Xinhua, when her teen daughter and her were standing in a cabriolet driven by her husband who was pressing its horn on their way downtown before midnight.
In the red "storm", some crazy football fans stood out in the crowd both literally and figuratively.
On Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi, a barebacked young man placed an A-shaped metal ladder in the middle of the street, swiftly climbed up, and excitedly waved a big national flag, shouting "Vietnam!" Immediately, the crowds around the ladder shouted even louder "Champions", and such a chorus echoed around every street corner and road when the "storm" swept through.
Around Sword Lake, an iconic Hanoi scene, some young men and girls stood on moving motorbikes or roofs of cars or pickups, shaking their bodies in unison with electronic music. Notably, the music did not come from fixed loudspeakers in nearby houses or cafes, but from mobile loudspeakers carried by motorbike drivers.
To add to the festive atmosphere, sometimes flares were released, resulting in bright light, thin smoke trails and the simultaneous chanting of "Vietnam, Champion", "Vietnam, Victory." Sometimes, the crowds sang Vietnam's national anthem or popular songs such as "Noi vong tay lon" (Great Circle of Vietnam).
While singing in Vietnamese "From jungled hills to the distant sea, we form a giant circle to unite our country. From far and wide, we now return. With joy, like a sandstorm, to the far horizons. Let's now join hands: A great circle of Vietnam", a young foreign man ran around the lake, high-fiving with local passers-by.
"I dare say Vietnamese are the craziest football fans on Earth. Thanks to football, I can make friends with hundreds of people in just a single day," the man, who identified himself as Cooper, an Australian volunteer teacher of English in Vietnam, told Xinhua.
Also thanks to football, many Vietnamese people made quick money on Monday night. The best selling items were national flags, stickers and headbands bearing the phrase "Vietnam, Champion", four-color vuvuzelas, and bottles of water.
"My daughter is a tailor, so making national flags is a piece of cake for her. Tonight, I have sold 50 large flags and around 100 small flags," Nguyen Thi Hong, an elderly housewife on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi, told Xinhua before midnight on Monday, noting that she sold a large flag with a long bamboo handle for 50,000 Vietnamese dong (nearly 2.2 U.S. dollars), and a small one for 10,000 Vietnamese dong (0.4 U.S. dollars).
Meanwhile, on the walking street of Nguyen Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, a local middle-aged man named Huynh Van Tri said,"Normally I sell handicrafts to tourists. Whenever Vietnam's football team competes at Asiad, I sell plastic vuvuzelas because they sell like hot cakes. This evening I have already sold over 100,000 vuvuzelas at prices between 50,000-60,000 Vietnamese dong (2.2-2.6 U.S. dollars).
Like street vendors, big businesses have also benefited from the football frenzy in Vietnam. National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines have launched new direct flights or added more direct flights between Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City to Jakarta, Indonesia, to serve thousands of local fans. Meanwhile, some Vietnamese travel companies have increased prices of packaged tours to Jakarta by 1-2 million Vietnamese dong (43.5-87 U.S. dollars).
Not only bringing joy to fans, money to street vendors, airlines and travel agencies, the football victory has brought much more to the Vietnamese team itself.
Right after defeating the Syrian team 1-0 in the quarterfinals, the Vietnamese squad received congratulations from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who praised the squad's head coach Park Hang-seo, other coaches and all the players for making history at Asiad.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Ngoc Thien, and national broadcaster Voice of Vietnam decided to award the squad a total of 1 billion Vietnamese dong (over 43,000 U.S. dollars).
"In the semifinal match on Wednesday, Vietnam will play South Korea, the home country of our team's head coach. But we believe we will continue to make history," local architecture Tran Anh Tu told Xinhua on Tuesday afternoon, while sticking images of national flags, the head coach and two local strikers on his car's body in preparation for another red "storm."