Still Rocking It (With Mid-Autumn Madness)

Miss M can no longer be called a baby.

She is a month shy of three, with long straight legs and hair down to the middle of her back. There is no baby-ness about her anymore.

But although she is no longer a rock star baby, she is still definitely a rock star. In Vietnam, at least.

Our excursion to buy a “traditional” paper lantern for the mid-autumn festival proved she’s still got it. She was papped at every turn. And she was pretty gracious about it too.

The Vietnamese baby/toddler-love is so strong that she no longer just gets pinched and squeezed and cooed over. Now she is given gifts. Usually something shiny and plastic.

She loves her presents, of course, even if they break after only a few hours. But I worry about what the preponderance of plastic crap is doing to our planet. I try not to buy cheap plastic stuff but I am at a loss to know what to do when Miss M is given some of it.

Ironically, cheap plastic rubbish is the very reason we set off on a cross-city expedition to buy a “traditional” paper lantern.

I had caved in to toddler pressure and bought Miss M a plastic dragonfly on a stick. Something now marketed as a mid-autumn festival lantern.

Darling Man was less than thrilled about the battery-powered plastic dragonfly, that flashed and flapped its wings and played a loud tweedley rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

He said it was a nasty Chinese import that did not represent the true spirit of Vietnam’s mid-autumn festival. He said children should celebrate what used to be a harvest festival by walking the streets carrying paper lanterns lit by little candles.

So we headed off to District 5, home to Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown, known as Cholon. (Yes, I see the irony too.)

Darling Man stopped many times to ask for directions for the seasonal “lantern street” that springs up in Cholon in the leadup to every mid-autumn festival.

And finally we found it.

We just had to get across this street.

We plunged through the traffic and into lantern street. Which was full of oh-so-traditional plastic crap as well as beautiful paper lanterns.

Because, you know, nothing says mid-autumn festival in Vietnam like …

… satanic plastic rabbits …

… plastic dinosaur bubble-guns …

… grinning Jack-o-lanterns …

… Groucho Marx glasses …

… laser-light sheep-head spinning tops …

… SpongeBob Squarepants on a stick …

… and multi-coloured fluff-covered light sabres …

For the record, we bought three beautiful paper lanterns and one laser-light sheep head. The rest of the plastic junk we ended up with was given to us by Miss M’s adoring fans, who seemed to leap out at us at every turn.

And this is how we looked as we left lantern street. Thank goodness Miss M loved her lanterns!

(The fancy photos from our fancy camera haven’t yet been downloaded, hence the pretty poor quality of pictures in this post. But they were just too funny to keep to myself!)

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8 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. WOw. that’s some major plastic!!
    wandering educators recently posted..The Dreams I Have

  2. I remember my mom teaching us how to make little accordion-style lanterns out of cardboard and tissue paper as kids. Nostalgia!
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Geocaching Vietnam

  3. Jenny says:

    I never thought I would miss that street crossing madness … and the sweltering heat… and the plastic crap… but I do!
    Jenny recently posted..Blog-Interview Nr. 8: Schwerer Fall von Neuseeland-Sucht: Sarah und Julian mit Baby Alejandra

  4. jan says:

    It looks exciting – much better than Cholon when we were there. Love the satanic plastic rabbit.
    jan recently posted..We chose Lan Ha Bay over Halong Bay

  5. Kudos for following tradition and not succumbing to the “cheap plastic crap” culture of consumerism. It is tricky when dealing with gifts to a toddler though.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Seattle Through My Lens

    • Barbara says:

      Well, we did succumb a little bit. I bought a plastic dragonfly thingie that set off this whole escapade. And Darling Man bought the sheep-head top, which lasted all of a day and a half before the winder broke.

      One of our paper lanterns was stolen while Miss M was fishing but the two we have are beautiful momentos of the mid-autumn festival. I just love “my” lantern with the flowers and the butterflies. It looks amazing with a candle inside.

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