It is not so often you see the old Nordic Vikings so far away from the Arctic Circle, but on March 14, 2009 they arrived in Saigon! Suddenly the Vietnamese city was invaded by around 360 ‘wild’ worriers at the Nordcham Viking Fest 2009, where they celebrated Nordic culture and heritage.
ABBA and wild boars
The afternoon-evening event began with all participants being dressed up in colourful outfits at their arrival at a downtown boat-pier into Saigon River. Dressed as true Vikings, all participants entered three sponsor-decorated boats sailing up the Saigon River. In total 23 companies had this year chosen to sponsor the event.
“Nordcham is very grateful for this support, but we also deliver Viking values, so of course the sponsors get their money’s worth”, says Sigmund Stromme, Chairman of Nordcham.
After a ‘wet’ Carlsberg-sponsored half hour onboard, the Vikings arrived at an open riverside restaurant, of course decorated as Valhalla – home of the old Nordic Gods. At the restaurant a grand Nordic buffet awaited. Roasted wild boar and other Nordic specialities gave the Vikings the needed energy to dance to the music of an ABBA-rehearsed live band – also dressed up as Vikings.
An additional group of lovely Viking-singers made indeed a show for themselves by tremendous singing and stirring up the crowd to chain-like dancing in long formations around the entire restaurant singing “sailing up the river”, as the old Danish song goes.
Then it was time for social activities and competitions like rope skipping and continued in a real Viking-like way. A sponsored stay from the exclusive ‘Evason Six Senses Hideaway Resort’ made up the 1st prize. This year ‘Viking-Ole’ – a Danish businessman and former member of the Board of Nordcham was crowned as the winner to the singing of “Olé-Olé-Olé-Olé” by the cheerful crowd.
It is no coincidence that Nordcham chose the notorious Viking-worriers, who ruled the oceans 1000 years ago, and supposingly found America long before Columbus laid claim hereto in 1492. “Because we are still relative few Nordics in Vietnam, we have a joint Nordic Chamber of Commence. It was of great importance to make something that Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Finns and Icelanders all could relate to”, says Soeren Juelsbak. And for that purpose, the Viking era is perfect according to the Vice Chairman of the chamber.
“This period in our Nordic history unites us all as Nordics as Vikings! – After that era, all the Nordic countries have been “busy” fighting each other, but being Vikings is still something, we all have in common and that comes closest to who we really all are!”
A success to be repeated
“In Nordcham, we thought last year that a Viking Fest would be a fun way to make bring our Nordic members, their Vietnamese employees and key business partners together, giving all the Vietnamese their presumably first taste of real Nordic heritage and Viking-hood. Dressing up at arrival before entering the river-boats, was an essential element, bringing us all immediately at-par and into a cheering spirit, and where also the Carlsberg beers ‘helped’ the togetherness and Viking-spirit”, says the Danish idea-man behind the party, Vice Chairman of Nordcham Soeren Juelsbak. And it seems like the Nordic community in Saigon agrees with him; this year more than 360 people participated in the fest.
“It was a big success like last year, and we definitely plan to keep this new tradition by repeating the Viking Fest in the years to come”, he ads.