Christmas and Christmas Eve a la Vietnam

I have returned to what is most likely an empty auditorium; the few readers I did have probably think the show has left town and moved elsewhere but it would be more apt to blame its absence on the NFL season and the general lack of interesting things in my day to day life; life in Vietnam has in its ways become normal. Thanks to my neglect however you should be expecting blogs on Cambodia and Halloween following this one about Christmas Eve and Day.

Way back in early December Linda had decided we would be having a Christmas Eve party, however when we told the apartment building about this they seemed to hastily come up with their own party so that we couldn’t have ours but they did have one so I can’t complain too much. Given that however we were not deterred; the numbers were reduced and only a few people would be able to come over to our apartment!

Linda decided she was going to cook Mexican food for everyone and given thats how she snared me I thought it was an excellent idea. Christmas Eve arrived and I was sent on to do my duties; buy flowers, get a haircut, go and pick up some limes and most importantly avoid the whirling dervish in the kitchen.

Early in the afternoon my friend Luke arrived and we left Linda and Jamie in the kitchen to watch the terrifically rubbish game between the Steelers and the Panthers, I feel for any Carolina supporters, its going to take many a year to sort out that roster, however I digress!

Around 4pm people started to arrive, bringing the alcohol and other goodies for the party. Thanks to a late warning (a few hours beforehand) they all had their secret santa presents, I had only found out that morning, Linda will tell you otherwise but this is my blog and therefore I am right.

Everyone settled into a glass of wine or a nice beer (kudos to Rufus for bringing Erdinger and Czech Budvar) and sat around eating crisps (not chips) and pico de gallo/mango salsa (both home made of course) they also started to discover Linda’s beyond epic home made fudge (a discovery that will be bad for my waistline but good for my mental health going forward).

Then the oven timer went ping and everyone was treat to shredded chicken tacos, vegetarian tacos, chicken enchiladas, cheese enchiladas and chile relleno. These were of course wolfed down mercilessly by all present leaving us rather close to nothing in the way of leftovers the next day, which shows exactly how good Linda’s Mexican cooking is!

Not long after that came time for “White Elephant” an American form of Secret Santa were you have the ability to steal the presents other people have opened among a few other rules I won’t begin to go into. Given the 50,000 dong limit (£1.66) people had excelled themselves in buying all manner of both useful and shit presents, as as any good Secret Santa should be.

The game was going quite timidly for the first while until eight or nine people in it all kicked off and there was theft all over the living room, I ended up with the pink champagne, which was duly put in the freezer to cool down only to be discovered there the next day, slightly exploded and rather frozen the next day. Linda ended up with a terrible pen disguised as lipstick that lights up, she’s impressed with it, which I honestly can’t fathom (I will get hit in the head for this comment).

After that it was time for a cheeky game of ring of fire, first started on the table, where after one card there was both a beer and a wine on the floor. Hastily the table was moved out and everyone relocated to the floor. Everyone quickly got into the game and some excellent banter was had, the highlight being the rule of “you can’t look to your left” which will be introduced to a drinking game near you next time I’m home!

I fell down, down, down....

Toward the end of the game a few people needed a trip to the bathoom to, err, “purge excess spirits” shall we say? One of whom, who shall go nameless, came out of the bathroom exclaiming that she had hit the reset button. Oh dear.

After that the iPod speakers came out and the British contingent, myself, Tom, Luke. T and Rich took over and had a wonderful time with some historical BritPop and Elton John. The Tiny Dancer singalong was a highlight, as were Oasis, Maximo Park and especially I Am The Ressurection by the Stone Roses, as you can see below.

I am the Ressurection and I am the Liiiiiiiiiiiiiight!

From there some people retired and some of us headed into town for a few drinks, despite my becoming somewhat more reserved in this city I still struggle with resisting an extension to the party and we headed into town. Which should have been a 20 minute cab ride at worst – what we didn’t bank on was the Vietnamese interpretation of Christmas Eve which is for as many people as possible to mass in one place and block the roads. 45 minute cab ride. Sobering up. Arse.

We met friends at Lily’s and had a bear and I then joined Tom to join people at the AK Hideaway for a few more drinks until it was most certainly Christmas, at that point I took a Xe Om home and dropped to sleep.

Christmas day was a lovely and chilled out affair, we started by going to pick up Linda’s present, some expensive female lotions and potions of the kind men are ignorant of and then on to pick up mine – new glasses, new frames with fancy schmancy anti-reflective coating, non-glare, featherlight lenses and now once I’ve got used to them they are awesome. The frames are pure thick frame retro geek as I like them but are in a light brown rather than my usual black.

New glasses and a poncy yet great sandwich!

We headed from there to Au Parc and had a lovely breakfast, the turkey and bacon sandwich with mozarella on focaccia was a slightly poncy version of my usual Christmas bacon buttie and not the same but it did the job in its own way. (Note to Mum – I would kill for one of your bacon sarnies right now)

From there we headed to Veggy’s in the hopes of picking up a roast chicken to go with Christmas dinner, we were rather dissapointed when they didn’t have one and balked at the thought of putting up 1.6 million dong (£60) for a roast joint of beef. Instead we treat ourself to a huge Omaga Angus Ribeye steak for the much more reasonable price of 300,000 dong (£12) to go with the veggies and gravy.

The rest of the day was quite the chilled out affair, we sat down and watched Casablanca, which I had never seen and that was pretty good, I can’t see why its always voted as one of the best films ever though it has to be said. Film critics are a pretentious bunch aren’t they?

After that it was time for the roast dinner, Linda cooked to perfection the Ribeye steak and teamed it with mashed potatoes, roasties, brussel sprouts and home made stuffing, all delightfully coated in delightful gravy made from the drippings of the beef. After eating as much as I could fit into my stomach I piled a little bit more in and sat and watched my food baby grow for awhile.

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOMS

From there it was only a matter of time until the eyelids drooped and around 11pm I was knocking out the Z’s like few before me. An absolutely fantastic Christmas, the only bad part of which was being up for work the next morning at 6am. The Vietnamese don’t understand that Boxing day is for leftovers and getting even fatter!

And on that note I shall leave my comeback blog, I will be doing my utmost to get back into the swing of things from now on!

Love and Ribeye

J. Xx

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