Friday, November 30, 2007


Since about a week before US Thanksgiving, Christmas has been coming to Ho Chi Minh City. Strings of lights have appeared here and there across town, maintenance people squat in front of every hotel untangling wires, a silver tree has grown on the top of a building on the far side of Reunification Palace, just visible from our living room window. As the year creeps toward December, things have picked up speed: there's a plastic North Pole toy factory diorama encapsulating the doorway to Saigon Center, large decorated evergreen forests have appeared in a few public parks, and a canopy of lights now stretch from the lobby of our building to the busy street out front. A sequence of shrunken Santa heads dangle like trophies over our reception desk. A large tree has appeared at the entrance to the building's lounge. Christmas garishness was bigger in Hong Kong already, of course, that being an incredibly tacky and festive city anyway. Many buildings fronting on Victoria Harbor sport light displays running along facades dozens of stories tall: presents, tree ornaments, whatever can be fashioned legibly from light bulb resolution. There was a rotating display of large pink space pandas near Jordan Station, hanging upside down in fishbowl helmets, apparently planning to beam presents down around this time of year. Hong Kong's odd. In Saigon, there are more trees and lights and greenery every day. People sell fake trees on the roadside. While I was appreciating our own fake tree, the guys who tend our lounge asked me where I was going for the holiday. I told them it was too expensive, that we would have to stay in Ho Chi Minh City. "Oh," they were surprised, but reassuring: "Christmas is really nice here." Then they added "but no snow." [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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