Christmas Celebrations

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2013

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Monday, December 24, 2012

24-25th Dec – Hanoi Christmas Celebrations

After arriving into our room and calming down a bit, we tried our best to get in contact with Leyla (who was meant to be staying with us) and Kerry and Charlie who we were meant to be organising our Halong Bay tour with. Then there was a knock at the door...and there was Leyla!  How convenient; she said the lady in reception had been very excited that she had turned up!  After further calming down and setting out our Christmas presents, we'd heard from Kerry and Charlie and headed over o near their hostel, Hanoi Backpackers, for some food before we met them.  We found a really nice place that did 30% off foot long sandwiches and settled and ordered before finding out that they were staying at Hanoi Backpackers 2; another 2km away!  So we finished our amazing subs (it had a "chicken garlic pesto sauce" in it) before walking through the twisty, many streets of Hanoi to their hostel.  We had a good long discussion about which tour we were going to book as well as deciding that we were going to come to the Christmas eve carols and Christmas day meal!  We decided on a deluxe tour (not the best, not the budget, not the booze one) for just one night as most tours for the 2nd night spend it on the beach which seemed pointless in the not so amazing weather in north Hanoi!

That evening we returned to the hostel for “carols” apart from the fact that they weren’t really happening... but we made them happen instead.  After ordering some food – I know I talk about food a lot but I got a chicken breast stuffed with cheese, spinach and mushrooms with cheese mash and it was the best food I have had in a long time plus the best mash I have ever had; even Laura (who doesn’t like potatoes in many forms) liked them – the Christmas songs started and of course, what else can you do apart from sing along?  The 6 of us plus Frankie sat at our table singing, and soon dancing away until around 11 when we headed out to the cathedral to maybe see midnight mass...

This was very optimistic as the streets were absolutely covered in people – there must have been 1000s of people out and about, either heading home or also heading to the cathedral with the same idea as us.  We gave each of the 7 of us a number to shout out at a certain busy points to ensure we stayed together and on the way there continued the Christmas spirit by singing Christmas songs at the top of our voices, with the locals taking pictures, making videos and telling us to sing louder because it was 'cute’!  The weirdest Christmas eve ever, but it was amazing!

Christmas day did not disappoint either.  Once we had got dressed we all gathered around our little side table with our presents and “Christmas tree” (a bauble saying “Merry Fucking Christmas” and a plastic plant, and handed out our presents.  We had been buying Sarah Christmas presents as we have been travelling and were finally able to give them to her; a silk scarf and wooden stamp from India, a tea, coffee and hot chocolate pack and coasters from Bali and some cushion covers from Hong Kong.  She was very appreciative of them and very happy!  In return Sarah had got us some things we were missing from home: pretty knickers; imperial leather; haribo; razors.  Laura and I had also got each other presents, some from home, some from travelling.  Laura got me the backpackers game, some earrings and a surprise present later of some personalised stamps for my card making.  I got Laura the next book in a sequence, some nice underwear, some earrings, a joke present to remind her of her horse.

After exchanging gifts we made our way to the backpackers hostel for lunch.  I stayed behind for a bit to buy some shoes as my feet were cold and I didn’t really fancy wearing trainers with skinny jeans.  The problem however, is that in girls shoes the largest size they do is 39... so boys shoes it was.  Finally I found some thin foot Toms in a 40 and done, $12, comfy shoes that I can wear with or without socks.  When I got to the hostel, the drinks were flowing and people were starting to sit for dinner.  We had paid 17 for the afternoon; 3 course meal and unlimited drinks for 5 hours (annoyingly the drinks were only beer or Sangria – do you think they meant to do mulled wine?!).  Our first course was, what we think, pumpkin soup with cream.  It was delicious and reminded me soooooo much of my mum’s carrot soup at home.  For dinner of course we got a roast, and thank God it wasn’t turkey.  We got a chicken leg/breast and a lump of pork belly (which they called suckling pig) – both the meats were lovely.  The veg that came with it was cold but also so tasty: we got beans, butternut squash, potatoes and a questionable one all covered in garlic and a very tasty gravy.  For dessert, which was the best but majorly lacking, we got apple crumble.  I think we could have all eaten about triple the portion size with about 10 times the amount of custard but all in all, a great meal, considering it was in a hostel and being served to about 100 people!

Then all food disappeared and the drink began to flow.  The drinking games started, the singing began and dancing continued from about 1pm to 8pm.  A good effort I think on our behalves as about 75% of the people disappeared within the first few hours!  Laura and I played DJ for a good 2 hours of the dancing session, which was a lot more favourable to the English people who knew a lot more of the music!  Of course, as always, Gangnam style got played and we were all of the seats dancing away.  8 hours of drinking and we all crashed and made our wonky way home!  Once back, Laura and Sarah disappeared to their room and Leyla and I stayed up and watched some Home Alone 2.  I also spoke to the family!  Luckily, the alcohol never really kicked in so this wasn’t as funny as this could have been, but as always the brother and cousins making stupid faces in the skype video made for a funny conversation.  It was really nice to see all my family together on skype, but so weird to think that I wasn’t joining them for Christmas dinner!

The most different Christmas day I think I will ever have in my life!  It was so unplanned, unexpected but so nice to have my travelling family with me as well as soooo many other backpackers in the same position.  I missed my family so much but did have an amazing day!
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mum on

You certainly had a great day considering you were away from the UK. I dont think it could have been better. We certainly missed you sooo much but great to talk to you on skype (what would we do without it) and also for you to talk to the family. You all look so happy and joyful. Love you lots xxxx PS I love all the tinsel, balloons etc. (also Laura's tinsel headdress).

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