Tết – Vietnamese New Year and the most celebrated holiday of the year has always been a time for family. No matter where they are Vietnamese head home to spend the last moment of the year and welcome a new year with their loved ones.
Tet holiday on Truong Sa archipelago
But in the Spartly Archipelago (Trường Sa) navy soldiers, charged with the task of safeguarding their homeland’s sovereignty, will not be with their families.
While it’s hard to not feel emotional during this time of the year the young soldiers’ hearts may find warmth in the fact that no effort was spared to make sure that they will have everything they need during the holidays. Two weeks before Tết, supply ships were dispatched to bring them traditional Tết food, gifts, sweet treats as well as the mainland’s heartfelt affection and gratitude for the soldiers’ dedication.
On the islands, cherry blossom branches, yellow apricot and kumquat trees that traveled hundreds of miles from the mainland signal that the end of the year is near and bring with them the joyous spirit of Spring and the holidays.
We would like to salute them. We wish them a year of excellent health and smooth sailing. Chúc Mừng Năm Mới.
- Fun and games: Island soldiers hold activities to celebrate New Year away from home including trivia contests, sing and dance performances.
- Yummy: Soldiers making square rice cakes for Tết on Trường Sa.
- Valiant: A young soldier standing guard at his post looking out to the vast ocean off Trường Sa.
- Having a ball: Sitting together by the fire cooking square rice cake during Tết is a dear memory that all Vietnamese treasure.
- Special shipment: Cargo ship 936 brings Tết necessities to soldiers guarding Vietnamese islands in Trường Sa. A kumquat tree – a typical Tết decoration – can be seen among other supplies.
About Truong Sa
Trường Sa is an island district of Khánh Hòa Province in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam. It was established on the basis of the Spratly Islands, which is also claimed wholly or in part by the Republic of China (Taiwan), the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. According to the 2009 census, the district has a population of 195 people.
Trường Sa District was established on the basis of small coral islands/cays, reefs and banks of the Spratly Islands which is 248 nautical miles away from Cam Ranh. As the islands contains a large number of scattered geographic entities, it is imaginatively divided into eight clusters including Song Tu, Thi Tu, Loai Ta, Nam Yet, Sinh Ton, Trường Sa, Tham Hiem and Binh Nguyen by Vietnam.
The Spratlys are one of the major archipelagos in the South China Sea which complicate governance and economics in this part of Southeast Asia due to their location in strategic shipping lanes. The islands have no indigenous inhabitants, but offer rich fishing grounds and may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves and as such are important to the claimants in their attempts to establish international boundaries. Some of the islands have civilian settlements, but of the approximately 45 islands, cays, reefs and shoals that are occupied, all contain structures that are occupied by military forces from Malaysia, Taiwan (ROC), China (PRC), the Philippines and Vietnam. Additionally, Brunei has claimed an exclusive economic zone in the southeastern part of the Spratlys, which includes the Louisa Reef.
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