Finally, this evening, not only do I get a break from AIS and from HCMC, I return home for Christmas for the first time since 2001. The last five of Jesus's birthdays have been spent abroad, in various locations, and here for the sake of god knows what, I will recall them briefly.
2002 - Sydney, Australia
Fresh out of University, traveling the world with three friends, Sydney is the stereotypical British backpackers Christmas - you can tell that by the 20,000 other people in Union Jack swimming trunks, and that's not even mentioning the Irish population around Bondi. Christmas Eve we hit the town in Kings Cross, Syndey's notorious backpacker/red light district (strange how those two always go together...). Here's a pic from that hazy night.
Yes, that's me in the middle being strangled by a Vodka drink. Xmas Day and it was off to the beach -- not joining the barmy army down at Bondi for the predictable embarrassment of a nation (the Brits abroad), we opted for a much more low key affair at nearby Bronte Beach.
2003 - Seoul, South Korea
The picture has nothing to do with Christmas, so tough. But it is in Seoul.
After getting the train into Seoul, this was a much frostier affair where Christmas Eve was spent fruitlessly looking for a dorm room on the campus of a huge city University (our accommodation via a friend) -- eventually giving up at 10.30pm and heading to the bars of Hongdae. Rolling out of the clubs at 4.00am we were lucky to be saved from sleeping under a bridge by a friend, who invited us back to her house. We enjoyed a traditional Christmas breakfast of rice, soup, fish and kimchi, sat cross-legged on the floor.
2004 - Koh Lanta, Thailand
Christmas here was uneventful, a holiday where I followed my family's Explore package holiday around. Unfortunately, Boxing Day was the most memorable for us, it was the morning of the 2004 Boxing Day Asian Tsunami, but that is another story altogether.
2005 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
This time the parents visited Vietnam, and Chi entertained us at her mother's house with a wonderful Christmas dinner.
2006 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This picture was taken inside the KLCC.
KL was alive and kicking on Xmas Eve, with what seemed like a million people thronging the city center around the Bukit Bintang area. Streamers, silly string and foam were flying through the air, rowdy groups of teenagers spraying passers by, and everyone was in the spirit. In the festive melee poor old Chi and I got separated -- she turned up three hours later at the hotel, around 1am...! Still in one piece however.
2007 - Bournemouth, England