As we bid farewell to the Year of the Buffalo, we eagerly await the approaching Year of the Tiger, hoping that our world will continue to improve and that we never have to experience the pressures of the past year again.
But how was the Year of the Buffalo for you? In numerology, 2021 is considered a lucky year. In the Vietnamese horoscope, the Year of the Buffalo is a year of diligence and patience. Patience was the theme of the year for me. I also think we all needed a little luck to get through it.
My year was certainly a strange year. A mix of wonderful experiences and the lowest of the lows.
Early 2021 brought my very first 3-day cycling adventure, traveling to Vung Tau, La Gi and Phan Thiet.
That was followed by another three-day adventure to Lake Tri An and War Zone D in Dong Nai during Tet vacation. Times were good.
In April, the COVID-19 situation in Ho Chi Minh City had not deteriorated and I was able to arrange a home wedding in Binh Duong for myself and my now-wife. We were lucky, because if we had only waited a few more weeks, we might still be waiting now.
Early May was coming and as I was unable to travel back to my home country, I took a week long vacation to Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An (with my bike, of course). The sites and experiences I got on my first visit to central Vietnam were amazing. Hue and its spectacular history moved me. Da Nang and Ba Na Hills were a delight, and Hoi An has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit.
But shortly after my return to Ho Chi Minh City, things started to look bad. The number of COVID-19 cases exploded and authorities began to isolate certain streets from the rest of the community. It wasn’t long before I got a call that my apartment had been locked down by the police due to a COVID-19 outbreak in my building. This ended my otherwise happy year.
I ended up being isolated in my apartment for about three weeks, not allowed in the hallway or stairs to exercise. My physical health started to deteriorate and I became increasingly frustrated at being locked up at home.
In early June, I was finally allowed to leave my apartment, but that lasted only three days until a citywide social distancing mandate was imposed. That set the tone for the next four to five months. My wife and I were isolated in our apartment, only allowed outside to pick up food or get COVID-19 tests.
With this new insulation my health deteriorated. I found I had severe sinusitis and had to take medication for about five months before finally ending up in the hospital in December for surgery. It was a fitting end to a stressful year.
All that stress, however, set the tone for the excitement of the year ahead. The Year of the Tiger comes with renewed energy and anticipation of a wonderful new year. I’m back on my bike and going on an adventure to the countryside. I am back to my office and in touch with my wonderful colleagues. My vaccination allows me to visit my family and friends. And I’m running again, something I missed so much during the lockdown.
This year will be a year of growth and adventure. I plan to explore new parts of Vietnam until the borders open again and I can visit my family in Australia. I plan to finish my studies a year earlier than planned as I am isolated and have had more time to study. I plan to lose the weight I gained during the social distancing period and start running half marathons again. And I dream of running 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau one day.
The Year of the Tiger has arrived and it’s a time to channel the tiger’s courage to get out there and make a difference in the world. It’s time to take a chance and try something new. And, perhaps most importantly, it is a time to appreciate all that was unavailable during the Year of the Buffalo.
In the Year of the Tiger, so much will be available to us again. Face-to-face groups, such as English clubs, will bring people back to face-to-face communication. Schools and other learning centers are reopening and giving people the chance to experience face-to-face learning again. And one of my favorites, the simple human interaction of meeting new people and shaking their hands or bumping their elbows will be a great everyday experience.
Vietnam has so much to offer, from the friendliness of the locals to the beauty of the countryside and amazing tourist attractions. This year there is something new and exciting for everyone to pursue.
Fortune favors the brave, so I’ll make the most of the Year of the Tiger by taking risks, making changes, and finding adventure at every turn. I know that the fortune in my life will be the people and memories that I will keep in my heart forever.
Enjoy the Year of the Tiger and make it a year of courage – take risks and change your life for the better!
By Ray Kuschert, an Australian living in Ho Chi Minh City. This article was first posted here.