Tag Archives: Christmas

So this is Christmas…

25 Dec

One of my favorite Christmas carols is Little Drummer Boy.  The bob seeger version gets me every time.  Brings me back to past Christmases with family — hanging up ornaments that my brother and I made when we were 5, opening presents together, sharing food and drink, laughing, talking, more food.

Last night, while walking back to my hotel, one of the bars had that carol playing loudly and for a moment, I was transported back to cold New York — back to my father’s house or my mother’s house (hard to be transported to two places at the same time…  but I managed) – imagining my brothers and I hanging out, or all 16+ of us fitting around the table for the Christmas feast.  It made me smile…  and then I was almost run over by a moped.

Being abroad, solo, is a bit strange for Christmas.  First, there is the fact that I am in a predominantly Buddhist country.  Then there is the fact that I do not speak the same language as the people here.  Then, there is the fact that the biggest manifestation of the Christmas spirit around here is commerical — all the big stores have christmas displays — and not being a shopper (even when I am not trying to live on 30$/day) leaves me feeling pretty disconnected from that.  Then there is the fact that I am by myself when Christmas, to me, means lots of aunts running around trying to get the Christmas meal on the table (i.e. – nothing solo about it!).  So — all in all — it is hard to feel a connection to this day — other than I know that back in cold snowy New York (ok, even if it is not cold and snowy there — it is in my mind) – my friends and family are celebrating and my aunts (and uncles) will still be running around to get the meal on the table for all 16+ people!

I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s right now — i feel truly blessed and grateful for this journey that I am on — and know that so few people are able to make the same type of choices as I have been able to.  However, having said that, it would be nice to magically (and for free!) be able to zip home for a quick visit, eat some good food, have some good ipas, visit with friends and family really quick — and then get back to my adventure!  but until then I remain grateful to wifi, skype, spring rolls and other travelers.

No matter how you celebrate the day (with family, eating chinese food, going to the movies) – I hope it is a wonderful day for you and your loved ones.  Enjoy, laugh, be grateful and eat and drink well!

Much love — Aurora

Merry merry happy happy

25 Dec

If I thought saigon was crazy last night….  tonight there is wall to wall traffic and people everywhere.  Lots and lots of folks taking pictures of their kid, who are all decked out in christmas wear, in front of the store displays.

interesting combo….

christmas eve, saigon style

Here are some of the highlights (or moments) of my day….

  • exercising early in the morning at a nearby park — which was SO crowded.  Saigon likes their exercise!  there are even permanent machines in the park!  people playing badminton, an aerobics class with fun music and old ladies, runners, walkers, people of all ages.  it was great!
  • visited the Renification Palace – which is where the tanks came through in 1975 and took over S.Vietnam and hoisted the current flag.  It is pretty well preserved and pretty interesting to learn more about the conflict
  • visited the war museum – which has a big exhibit on Agent Orange.  It is terrible what was done to this country.  There were a lot of pictures of people impacted by Agent Orange — and it is still a problem here.  On display was a beautiful  letter that a young girl, who is disabled by Agent Orange,  wrote to President Obama asking him to think of young children everywhere who need help.  The most depressing part of it, for me, was that the companies who knowingly sold and manufactured Agent Orange have barely shouldered the blame and impact.  While visiting the museum, I could not help but think of Iraq and Afghanistan…..

paintings by children at the war museum

  • when I came back to my guesthouse tonight, I got talking to a guy that was in the lobby.  Turns out he is from long island, but lives abroad (currently in Hong kong) and is here traveling.  While we had a beer and toasted christmas eve, the women who work in the hotel invited us to join them for some food — some watermelon, some fish and beef meatballs and eggs.  And not just ordinary eggs — but BABY BIRD eggs….  no joke.  when I said that I did not want to try it, the girl said “well, you eat big bird chickens, why not baby bird chicken?”  Good question.

baby bird

This is not the first Christmas I have been away from my family, but it is the first Christmas that I am alone.  I move between feeling kind of lonely and a little melancholy to not even noticing that it is Christmas, as it is hot, busy, crowded and not my culture/language/community.  But, I also have been having a tough time trying to figure out what to do with my time.  An old friend is joining me on the 29th, so we have been emailing back and forth to figure out where to meet and where we want to go — but I have finally decided to stay in HCMC and head to the mekong delta on the 26th.  Not that there is so much to do here, but at least I can get myself all figured out and leave with a plan.

Ok — more from me later.  lots of love — aurora