Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Ho Ho from Ho Chi Minh City

We ventured out last night to join the festivities in this frantic metropolis. The city core is aglow with lights and decorations and it seems that all 8 million citizens were out on the streets to party.

Our hotel, The Continental, an old dowager built in1880, is located near the main streets of the financial district, the Opera House and all the upscale shops, Louis Vuitton,  etc. The avenues are alight overhead, shops and businesses all seem to be competing for the "most garish"award. Most decorations are plastic and all the " snow" and "icicles" are Styrofoam.

Street vendors were sellng everything from crepes to whirly gigs with lights and annoying noises. Many of the kids were dresed up in some kind of Santa outfit and everyone wanted his or her picture taken beside Santa ...including us!!!

The excitement actually started to accelerate a couple of days ago, as Vietnam was building its medal count at the Ocean Games. They stood second to Thailand, with both men's and women's soccer yet to be finalized. We saw bits of the women's game against Thailand and the men's against Malaysia....simply because we couldn't get away from the TV screens! One entertained about forty people, on the sidewalk outside a closed dress shop, the extention cord snaking under the locked door  An amusing site was a TV crew sitting outside their truck on little red stools, watching a small monitor on the sidewalk! In the restaurant where we had dinner in our hotel, billed as "Italian" ( another bizarre story) the wait staff of seven people for our table, the only one occupied, kept running to the bar next door everytime they heard a shout from the drinking fans.

The final score was Malaysia 1 Vietnam 0, but still the distinctive red flags with gold star were held aloft  on motorbikes and hundreds wore their flag colored t-shirts in solidaity. Along with the Santa costumes, lights and decorations the lucky color red ignited the crowd. A great party!


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