CITY DIARY

New Year in Vietnam: What’s next in 2017?

Stivi Cooke

Updated : 01/01/2017 11:03 GMT + 7

Whew... well now that 2016 is finally behind us... is 2017 going to be awesome? I guess that depends on your focus. For me, just being alive is enough to ensure that it’ll be a great year.

The fact that Donald Trump will take office as the next president of the United States makes the ‘Year of the Rooster’ more eerily appropriate than we could ever have imagined. Certainly he’ll be strutting his stuff in Washington, D.C. His actions will have an impact on trade and the economy, that’s for sure; but if he manages to slap China in the face and get away with it... I’ll buy him a beer.

One prediction I plucked from the Internet was that ‘The Year of the Rooster represents a period of hard work and activity, as the rooster is busy from morning to night. His comb is a mark of high intelligence and literary spirit. People born in the year of the cock are considered profound thinkers.’ Personally, I just think roosters are annoying and the most boring thing on the menu.

And what about New Year resolutions? Somehow these weird little plans to improve our weight, health, or wealth often crumble under the pressure of reality, so what’s the point? I’m still only half-way through my list from 2016; while I did manage to lose weight I never saved up enough to buy a Rolls-Royce.

Maybe the best idea for 2017 is to stick to what is working in your life and make it bigger. As my horoscope said, I need to marry my imagination to my ability in order to organize for better results. That’s easy to do, right?

I’m never short on big, fancy plans, just like the Vietnamese. Maybe this year Da Nang will build a triple by-pass looping roadway and tunnel combination that features a water slide and cable car. Or Ho Chi Minh City could ban all vehicles with more than one wheel.

Visas in 2017 should also become less complicated. Maybe we could base the issuance of visas on height and weight this year. Multiple-entry visas will only be issued if you’re over 50 kilos and 1.4 meters tall. 

I also have a great tourism idea for 2017 – why not grant visas to those who visit places that don’t often see tourists? You could get a business visa if you visit the Hai Phoung steel and coal factories. 

Another Year of the Rooster resolution should be to increase creativity and productivity. Tacos and weird burger combinations will be all the rage in 2017, so why not have a tourism promotion featuring the world’s biggest Taco or largest bowl of Pho? I’m also planning to write a guide to buying safe helmets in Vietnam – I think it will be a smash hit. 

Education also needs to be revamped. For 2017, I call upon the Ministry of Education and Training to translate the Finnish education system’s textbooks into Vietnamese – students will no longer be required to take tests, pay for private teachers, and attend extra classes at 7:00 am on Sundays – they might even have some actual time to sleep! 

I think it should also be a law that all Vietnamese tourism websites must be checked for spelling and grammar by native English speakers and issued certificates of proof they’ve undergone this measure. The economic benefits could be huge.

Yeah, we should be bolder roosters too. The next time a factory pollutes the rivers, sea, or local environment, the managers should reach into their own pockets to pay for the local resident’s food until the mess is cleaned up.

To rehabilitate dog thieves, we should make them work – forcing them to clean up canals and roadside litter strewn about by selfish market stall owners.

What else can we do cheerfully in 2017? Well, I’m aiming to study more and upgrade my IELTS teaching skills. Maybe I’ll finally tackle that PhD I’ve been reluctantly putting off. How about substituting a few pub-quiz nights for some studying?

Personally, I’d like to see no more animal poaching, more protection for Vietnam’s marine life and national parks, less super-sized resorts, more kids going to school, and no more war. 

Whichever way 2017 goes – let’s make it a goal to make things better for ourselves and our loved ones. 

So, take out your pen and paper (no smartphones, please) and make a list of goals for the Year of the Rooster – you might just surprise yourself.

May you all have a terrific, stunningly successful, and prosperous 2017!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!