An evening stroll on Christmas Eve in Bien Hoa, Viet Nam

The streets were all lite up.
I was surprised at all the lights. This is a very long street and there were lights like this for at least a couple kilometers.
The staff of a newly opened bar. They were posing under a fake snowfall, but it didn't show up in the photo.
The staff of a newly opened bar. They were posing under a fake snowfall, but it didn’t show up in the photo.

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AH! my favorite meal: stuff-on-a-stick. It was served with a lot of vegetables, including some pickled veggies that reminded me of kimchi.
Ah! my favorite meal: stuff-on-a-stick. It was served with a lot of vegetables, including some pickled veggies that reminded me of Korean kim chi. There are few westerners in Bien Hoa, so if you sit down to eat, you can expect people to come up to you to talk, practice their English. Often, they only know “hello” and “how are you?” But the smiles are genuine.
And this is the woman who deep fried my stuff on a stick.
And this is the woman who deep fried my stuff on a stick. You grab a plate and fill it with whatever she has that you want to eat. Then hand it back to her to fry.
This gentleman made me a fresh nouc mia--sugar cane juice drink.
This young gentleman made me a fresh nouc mia–sugar cane juice drink. The contraption squeezes out the juice from the cane. It’s not very sweet and has a pleasant “green” taste to it.
Clearly the love of white skin and light hair is learned. This young child was very wary of me and finally decided not to sit near me.
Clearly the love of white skin and light hair is learned. This young child was very wary of me and finally decided not to sit near me. She didn’t cry, but some very small children do. I may be the first western foreigner they have ever seen and it’s a shock.
The night market. I thought it might be bigger for Christmas Eve, but it was about the same. It was very busy, though.
The night market. I thought it might be bigger for Christmas Eve, but it was about the same. It was very busy, though.

Merry Christmas from Viet Nam

Many of my friends have asked if they celebrate Christmas here. They do! I didn’t expect some much Western and Christian influence in a Communist country. This is a brief walk around my neighborhood to view decorations. Of course, they are prettier at night with all the lights, but my photographs wouldn’t be. All of these were taken this morning, in an hour’s stroll.

Most of the decorations went up in the last couple days, but this one has been up for at least 10. Santa with a sax, the Holy Family, a red Christmas tree, bows and black plastic representing.....what?
Most of the decorations went up in the last couple days, but this one has been up for at least 10. Santa with a sax, the Holy Family, a red Christmas tree, bows and black plastic representing…..what?

A friend from the interwebs suggested this article as explanation for the Santa with a sax.

“In China, Christmas is associated with Santa Claus as a saxophone player. This tradition stems from the popularity of a jazz-playing animatronic Santa doll mass-produced a few years ago.”

Interesting! I also found this:

“The saxophone is seen as a very Western thing, and Santa Claus is seen as a very Western thing, so it’s almost natural that they go together.”

A hotel lobby. There are several small hotels/guest houses nearby.
A hotel lobby. There are several small hotels/guest houses nearby.

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Interesting combination: A Japanese restaurant with Christmas decorations in Viet Nam.
Interesting combination: A Japanese restaurant with Christmas decorations in Viet Nam.

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A surprising number of Santas with saxophones. Who knew?
A surprising number of Santas with saxophones. Who knew?
It's mostly businesses decorated, not private homes.
It’s mostly businesses decorated, not private homes.
...and all the Santas are white with Western features.
…and all the Santas are white with Western features.
There are huge sheets of foil to represent snow--something few of them have ever seen.
There are huge sheets of foil to represent snow–something few of them have ever seen.
The decorations work better in some places than others....
The decorations work better in some places than others….
No idea what's going on with the decorations here, but it's not working for me.
No idea what’s going on with the decorations here, but it’s not working for me.
Since they have not seen snow, I'm not sure if they know that these are snowflakes.
Since they have not seen snow, I’m not sure if they know that these are snowflakes.
All the Christmas trees are fake. There are no pines here, at least none like we see in the states.
All the Christmas trees are fake. There are no pines here, at least none like we see in the states.
This is a paper mache tree with a Jesus/Mary/Joseph scene in the middle.
This is a paper mache tree with a Jesus/Mary/Joseph scene in the middle.
One of the few trees in a private home that I've seen.
One of the few trees in a private home that I’ve seen.

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