George Michael’s "Last Christmas" sung in Vietnamese on the radio.

George Michael songs in general.

A hip hop medley of "Joy to the World"  / "Come All Ye Faithful" / "Macarena" played at all hours of the night in our backpacker hotel.

Authentic "Santas of the "World" at the Hilton, including….

Palestinian Santa


New Zealand Santa


And Bangladeshi Santa


Dance drill teams from ages seven to sixteen years performing awkward yet endearing dance routines with banners and pompoms to Christmas songs we’ve never heard of. And a priest singing "Silent Night" in Vietnamese.


"Christmas caves" set up in store windows and on churches all over Saigon and Vietnam.

Watching Disney Christmas cartoons on Christmas eve at Ciao Italian Cafe with all local patrons.

Kids from two to thirteen dressed in Santa outfits.

Motorcycle-riding adults dressed in Santa outfits.

Eating a reasonable simulation of Christmas dinner at the Press Club with an international group of tourists.

The terrifying experience of crossing avenues wider than New York’s Broadway filled with an absolute wall of thousands of motorcycles and no crosswalks. New York traffic does not prepare you for everything. The photo doesn’t come close to conveying it.


Christmas in Hanoi was great. About a tenth of the population in Vietnam is Catholic, yet almost everyone here enjoys celebrating Christmas. It’s very festive and there’s great spirit.