I'd jsut come from South Korea when Christmas came. In South Korea, I didn't see much for Christmas decorations as it is not a very important holiday there. I saw one huge display outside of the Central Bus Terminal in Seoul that confused The Nutcracker with Cinderella. It included a large lighted picture display of Cinderella riding in a pumpkin carriage. The display was guarded by 10-foot nutcrackers. That pretty much covers the extent of the Korean Christmas.
So, when I arrived in Hanoi, I was thrilled to see Christmas displays in nearly every shop and restaurant window. They had Christmas trees, Santas, snowmen, and wreaths. Christmas lights twinkled merrily from every tree in the city.
New Years was also a nice surprise. The hosts at Brothers Hotel threw a little party in the back room for all the guests. Seated on mats, about a dozen of us enjoyed eating Vietnamese vegetables, shrimp, noodles, and (unfortunately) intestines cooked in Pho (chicken broth) on a little campstove-like one-burner situated in the middle of the mat. (The one-burner is a typical "kitchen" in Vietnamese homes.) They also plied us with Vodka, which was greatly enjoyed and allowed the mishmash of internationals to communicate with ease. The group included the host family, a French man, a Brazilian man, a Japanese man (whose only English was pick-up lines), a Californian man and his Vietnamese girlfriend, Kris, and me.
It was a nice surprise to have a holiday celebration in Vietnam. Had I stayed in South Korea, I would have had to work the holidays without any special notice of the holidays besides another viewing of "It's a Wonderful Life."
|Gathered around the New Year's feast|
|A super cute display outside of a restaurant in Hoan Kiem|
|Nativity scene outside the local Catholic church|
|Another super cute Christmas display|
|Kris and Santa|
|Frosty and me|