Throngs of smiling people were out on the streets of Vientiane on Monday night to bid farewell to the year 2012, greeting one another delightedly and offering best wishes for the coming year.

Perhaps the most popular place to be and be seen was the National Culture Hall, where stages were set up to entertain New Year’s Eve revellers with some lively performances. The air was filled a sense of excitement, and a party atmosphere pervaded the area as locals and foreigners alike gathered in anticipation of a spectacular countdown.

Also present was the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for social and cultural affairs, Mr Asang Laoly, along with other government officials who were there to announce the end of Visit Laos Year 2012.

From 7pm until midnight, the site echoed with the sound of joyful music, including the lamvong and other traditional dances performed by students and musicians from the National School of Performing Arts, while well known rock and pop bands added a livelier beat.

Meanwhile, at Lao-ITECC, the scene was somewhat different and featured a large dinner party where the focus was on tradition. Classical Lao music and fashion were the theme of the night, and those present were elegantly turned out in stylish costumes.

The Mercure hotel offered yet another take on the celebrations, attended mostly by foreigners and some locals, with everyone enjoying both Lao and international music and dances with gusto.

Modern music and dance with a distinctly international flavour was also the theme of celebrations at the Nam Phou Fountain, where those present comprised Lao and foreigners in equal numbers.

But wherever people gathered, their single intention was to have as much fun as possible and welcome in the New Year with a gleeful countdown.

There seemed to be a determination to forget any sorrows that occurred in the past year, and to enjoy renewed hope for better times in the year to come.

Ms May and her friends from Phontong village gathered at Nam Phou to spend some time together as they had not been able to meet up for many weeks because of work commitments.

When talking about the past year and her hopes for 2013, Ms May said life had jogged along as normal in 2012 but she hoped that her job and family life would improve this year and she planned to open a shop selling silk goods.

Mr Jeroen from Holland, who went with his family to the party at the National Culture Hall, said he was impressed with the joyful yet peaceful atmosphere that prevailed despite the huge number of people present.

In 2013, he hoped for prosperity in his personal and family life, that crime would diminish and that there would be no war. He also expressed a wish for people to be less self-centred, and to show more consideration for others, regardless of which country they lived in.

Considering the outlook for Asia and Europe, Mr Jeroen said he thought Asia was on the right track and was doing very well and had fewer problems than Europe because people in this region were very industrious.

When the countdown was over at the National Culture Hall and the excitement had peaked, the crowd remained in party mode and stayed on to dance the night away and make the most of the occasion.

Along with cities the world over, New Year’s Eve parties also took place in the main towns of Laos, notably Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champassak. So let us carry over the sentiment into 2013 and hope that it is indeed a Happy New Year.

Source: Vientiane Times
January 5, 2013