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Sunday, 23 December 2007

Deck the hotels with miles of tin foil

I found a place that was just too awsome to capture in a single shot. The My Hotel, on or near Cao Ba Quat.

I'd passed it a week ago near the end of the work night out which included Karaoke in a fried chicken shop. I was mesmerised by the sheer shininess of it and had to be dragged away. I'd had several lemonades so was pretty impressed that I managed to find it again. No small thanks to Stephen who responded swiftly to my squeals of "Shit stop the bike, there it is". I jumped off and ran down the street Anneka Rice style while he had to find a way back down a one way system to pick me up once I satiated myself.

My Hotel

One third of the frontage, here you can see the compulsory Creepy Santa, this one gets extra points for having no hands, just streams of tinsel spewing from his cuffs.

My Hotel 2

Inflatable snowman atop the stairs covered in aluminium foil, visitors can still get into the hotel but no more than two abreast. Even the entry and exit to the underground parking is lined in tin foil.

Christmas Crib

Finally, Baby Jesus in tinfoil nestled in a manger lined with tinsel. It doesn't get any more Christmassy than this.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Dam Sen Park, Saigon

What to do on a weekend, shopping loses it's charm for me pretty quickly so the obvious option is to get out and see the sights. We haven't "done" the reunification palace or Cu Chi tunnels yet. We're saving those in the vain hope that someone will come and visit us some day. So we went to Dam Sen Park in District 11, HCMC.

It's a kitsch family park, there's a water park too, places to eat, an Ice Lantern, a Dinosaur Land, odd statues, orchids, a monorail, very tacky topiary, and a big lake in the middle.

Welcome Dragon

An interesting use of crockery, in the UK this would be smashed to pieces within minutes of it being installed.

Crockery Art

Pink on Pink

This was taken in the garden area outside one of the floating restaurants (also a dragon made out of plates and spoons). Dam Sen is a popular place for weddings and pre-wedding pictures. In Vietnam the official pictures are taken before the day of the wedding and often in several outfits.

Speaking of weddings, I spotted these being prepared at the tradesman's entrance to the restaurant.

Piggies on parade

Piglet parade

No steak pie and prawn cocktail here.

Aside from spying on other people's wedding preparations other attractions include the Ice Palace. A giant freezer full of replicas of famous buildings rendered in ice and illuminated from within. Visitors are provided with puffa jackets to keep out the cold and they're sorely needed. It took ten minutes for my camera to return to outside temperature and the condensation to clear from it.

Great Ice Wall of China

The Great Wall of China I think, followed by the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal in ice

And here's Santa atop the Ice Lantern centre wearing one of the orange puffa jackets.

Orange Santa

Topiary in Dam Sen Park

Topiary is ever popular.

Bottle Dragon
And dragons made out of little glass bottles filled with green water.

Concrete carriage

And unidentifiable concrete animals pulling carriages.

We're going back at night, they light everything up.

I just heard it was minus 7 in Edinburgh last night. I'm putting on the sunblock and going out to take more Christmas pictures.

Friday, 14 December 2007

You better watch out

Santa Claus has hit town in a big way.
Dress your child like Santa month

It's "Dress your child like Santa and take pictures of them in front of the Christmas displays around town month". This is outside the Tax Shopping Centre at the top of Le Loi. Benches are set up and photo opportunities abound to capture your family in front of a seasonal backdrop.
Still Live

But to some nothing says "Christmas" quite as well as a backdrop of a projected new high rise development.
Christmas portraits

The developers also seem to be sponsoring the not very realistic log fire inside the shopping centre, also a popular photo spot but you can have enough of a good thing so I haven't posted any here.

Meanwhile other attractions have not been left behind. Gucci does it with stylish blue lights and nodding white reindeer.

Have yourself a Gucci little Christmas

Oh deer

And in Dam Sen park the Santas travel in packs.

They travel in packs

Or languish forgotten from previous displays.
Dam Sen Santa

Sunday, 9 December 2007

View from the balcony

Houses in HCMC are generally built close together, consequently our blacony, which is at the side of the building, only has a view of the wall of the house that's being built next door.

That doesn't mean there's never anything to see.

Yesterday this appeared:


Followed by:


And finally the entire package:


Sunday, 2 December 2007

Santa Claws

I went for a manicure yesterday and found this Santa Claus themed gem amongst the false nails.

Santa Nails

I was tempted but remained strong and just got mine painted in "Natural". But look at what I COULD have had done.

False Nails

For those interested in this type of thing, I had the full hand and foot package, an hour and a half of up to three people pampering me. A herbal foot bath, foot scraping (painless and necessary for me to get rid of hard skin) foot, leg, hand and arm exfoliation, paraffin wax treatment for all extremities, foot and hand massage including arms and legs, manicure, pedicure and to finish off a neck and back massage and a glass of green tea The damage £12. Both cheaper and more expensive are available and generally the treatment is excellent.

My worst experience so far, having my feet scraped in Hoi An for the first time lying face down on a treatment couch and once finished invited to see the results which they had lined up on the ledge under the mirrors. Three feet of ex foot is not a pretty sight but the beautician seemed very proud of herself, so much so that she dragged Stephen in to have a look at it too.

Oh, and there was a time I was refused treatment when after a leg inspection and much discussion I was told that the "girl who can wax hairy westerners was not at work". Cue quick trip home and out with the bic razor.