Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween in Vietnam

So Halloween is my all time favorite holiday, and this is the first time I've spent it away from home so I have to write about it here. Of course. Halloween is pretty different in Vietnam, like most countries Halloween is a fairly new tradition. Overall, it's a holiday for children. Adults don't really celebrate it and they think Americans are kind of weird for wanting to.

One thing that's cool is that every place decorates. This is the coolest place I've seen. They have actual pumpkins and dead leaves! But it definitely helps because when you live in a big city where it's still 90 degrees everyday and there are no changing leaves or pumpkins or sweaters or hot doesn't feel like Halloween at all.

Even places like McDonalds are covered in decorations. And they get away with some weird, almost gruesome stuff that would not fly in Christian America. For example, the windows at KFC are covered with bloody hand prints.

 All of our schools especially go all out with pictures and spiderwebs and ghosts everywhere. And speaking of weird, almost gruesome stuff on this wall you can kind of see a bloody little girl on the left here. Which I feel like would be a little much for a children's school in America.

Most of the decorations are pretty creative or homemade. Stores don't sell very much of this stuff and there aren't Halloween stores popping up all over like in America. Children's costumes are kind of the same. Think like 1950's American costumes with just cheap masks and props and some generic costumes (like a lot of rip off Elsa-ish dresses and that kind of thing). And if you want to buy an adult costume, forget about it. Also, Halloween candy is not a thing nor is trick-or-treating. I really miss candy corn. But overall it just isn't quite as commercialized as it is in America, which I guess is kind of cool.

Our schools all have Halloween parties. The kids dress up and they play games and have haunted houses and things (this door leads to a haunted house room). I didn't do anything at my schools, but some of my roommates got to join in the parties and dress up and take pictures. Tuna and Dylan had to dress up as princes. I never get asked to do anything cool ha.

 Stuff that I did for Halloween:
So me and Shoe decorated our room in classic Vietnam style.

With little cutout drawings.

And we also came up with generic, thrown together costumes.

She is a devil and I am an angel. Obviously. We went out to Bui Vien, which is the big tourist party street here in HCMC and where we usually go out. It was completely, totally packed and so crazy. But still, almost no one is dressed up.

But the cool thing about that is, every single Vietnamese person who saw us got excited and took selfies with us and called us beautiful basically every 10 seconds. Or they'd just point excitedly and say "ANGEL" because they were so excited that they knew the English word for what I was. It was very cute.

Some of the many many strangers we took selfies with.

Bui Vien, super packed. Unfortunately at some point Shoe's phone got stolen. And of course she was upset so we decided to go home.

But on the way home we were driving past Bia Set (which I've posted about before) and decided to stop for food. Our favorite waiter was there and done working so he joined us. He doesn't speak any English but with Tuna's limited Vietnamese, and bad google translate, and a lot of hand gestures we always have a good time with him haha.

And eventually he ends up taking us to a karaoke place. These places are so cool, because they're just private rooms with microphones and screens and you just pick whatever song you want on that little touch screen on the left there and people bring you beer or whatever you order. So that's basically how our Halloween ended with us all in a private karaoke room singing Sweet Caroline at 5:30 am.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Vietnam: Week 20 to 25ish (in which I play catch up)

So basically it's been two months since I've really posted anything. So here's some of the stuff you missed. These posts might feel all over the place, but basically they're all in September.

End of August, my roommates Shoe and Tuna visited Minnesota with me. We returned just in time for Vietnamese Independence Day.

From Wikipedia: National Day (Vietnamese: Ngày Quốc Khánh) is a national holiday in Vietnam observed on September 2, commemorating the Vietnam Declaration of Independence from France on September 2, 1945. It is the country's National Day

We crammed ourselves into the corner by the window and watched the fireworks. Fireworks are no where near as popular in Vietnam as they are in America haha. These are the only I've ever seen.

September 15th was the Full Moon Festival (or more commonly known throughout Asia as the Mid-Autumn Festival). In late August these shops started popping up everywhere selling mooncakes and gifts. 

The Full Moon Festival is on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is full and larger than at any other time of the year. It is primarily a holiday for children and the basic story goes "According to ancient manuscripts, the Emperor often wished to visit the Lantern Palace on the Moon. Then, with the help of a magician, he was taken to the Moon and welcomed by a lot of beautiful fairies." (from Vietnam Beauty) Families eat Moon Cake (I tried some, it's okay), and kids wear costumes and make lanterns and there is dancing and whatnot. But because obviously I am not a kid, this wasn't really a holiday I got to participate in.

This is a bad picture but it's all I have. At our schools they have teachers dress in fairy costumes and give out gifts and take pictures with the kids. At some schools they have parties and play games and the kids get candy and presents. One of my roommates got to wear the costume and some of my roommates got to have fun days, but my schedule was the same as always haha.

This was the bizarre celebration happening in my apartment building when I came home.

Generic Mickey Mouse was there for some reason.

For a little while we had a puppy in the house!

Her name was Taxi and she belonged to two roommates, but now she's moved out to live with a friend of a friend. Which is probably good. 9 people plus 3 cats plus 1 dog was a little much maybe.

And I'll end with a pretty Nam picture. No story here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Vietnam: Week 27 (in which we visit Mũi Né again)

You might recall a post I made back in May when we visited Mũi Né. Well this month two new Americans (a friend of my roommate and his friend) moved here also to work in our company and teach English. So we decided to take them with on a trip to the beach again.

Last time we took a sleeper bus, but this time we decided to rent a van (and a driver) to take us. It took him over an hour to even leave our neighborhood though so maybe a bus is the way to go.

Here's my free "pancakes" from our sweet resort breakfast. We stayed at the same place as we did last time, so if you look back on the last post. Well it's the same.

Dylan is my roommate on the left. Take note that he is literally looking directly into the camera in every candid shot. He's a sneaky dude.

Playing drinking games in the hotel.

Now I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Putting broken glass on top of your fence is a common security thing in Vietnam.

Note that Dylan is looking directly at the camera.

Literally always looking.

Note that the tractor thing literally drove down the stairs.

Shoe collecting seashells and Dylan STILL LOOKING DIRECTLY AT THE CAMERA.