The Scottish Girl in Vietnam – Christmas in July? No Hanoi!

Our Last Visa Run from Vietnam

Hello again, if you missed the first story of our escapades here in Hanoi read it here.
I’m currently finishing this story off in Hua Hin, Thailand. We had to do a visa run and we opted for a few days at the beach, it’s rainy season but the few times it’s rained, it’s been a warm rain, I can accept that!

A Hanoi Summer

It’s slap bang in the middle of summer in Hanoi.  A lot of expats leave for quite a bit of the summer, and I can totally understand that now, they head back to their home countries, visit family, friends and get out of the hot and humid sweat-fest that is Hanoi in summer.
Looking at the temperatures you would think that we would be used to it after five summers in Brisbane but the humidity here is off the scale. I’ve had a nice damp feel to my skin since June, match that with a whole lot of synthetic and mixed fibre clothes that work perfectly well in Brisbane, I’m a sticky, hot mess.

New Baby in Hanoi

We were honoured to attend a new babies welcome to the world party last week. It was lovely to be invited to such a momentous occasion when we are so far away from our family and friends and have missed so many celebrations like this. I didn’t manage to get a baby cuddle but I got a wee play with the teeny tootsies and fingers which is enough for me.  Welcome to the world Lydian, you really were the star of the show!

An Expat Christmas in Hanoi

christmas-in-hanoi

Did I mention the wine?

Christmas in Hanoi might look festive, however, little did I know that the decorations had probably been up since the previous year(s) and the loud Christmas music playing all year round.  The Festive season is not celebrated as a Vietnamese tradition, it’s just another normal working time of the year, TET is a completely different story and for another story!
This was my first chilly Christmas since leaving Scotland, which I would’ve appreciated a lot more if I had the appropriate clothing and footwear.  I had done a little research and from what I gathered, the winter would be similar to a Brisbane winter, oh how wrong could one google search be.  It was cold, dark, grey and wet!  Had I been able to converse with people, I would have sworn that I had been transported back to Scotland only with no central heating and no thermals!
reindeer-toilets

Even Reindeers need to relieve themselves

I was freezing cold, miserable and a little lonely, I must admit for a couple of weeks (months), wine, a little bit of exercise, meditating, wine, ending up living right around the corner from where I would do my Pilates classes and training kept me somewhat sane – oh and did I mention wine!
This was my first chilly Christmas since leaving Scotland, which I would’ve appreciated a lot more if I had the appropriate clothing and footwear.  I had done a little research and from what I gathered, the winter would be similar to a Brisbane winter, oh how wrong could one google search be.  It was cold, dark, grey and wet!  Had I been able to converse with people, I would have sworn that I had been transported back to Scotland only with no central heating and no thermals!

Christmas Day and Our First Vietnamese Wedding in Hanoi

About 2 weeks before Christmas Mark came home with an extremely fancy envelope which turned out to be a wedding invitation, two weeks before the wedding……part 1, the groom’s party to happen on Christmas Day and part 2, the actual wedding, on Boxing Day.
Vietnamese weddings are so interesting and very different from any wedding I’ve ever been to, in-fact weddings are so different across the world, it’s fabulous to see how different cultures and countries celebrate the joining of two people in love.
vietnamese-wedding-cake

Vietnamese Wedding Cake

After a tasty but festive spirit free lunch, think a lovely restaurant with only us and one other couple having lunch, no music and nowhere near enough Champagne or brussel sprouts, we spent a good hour or so travelling on a big bus with about 20 of Mark’s colleagues. This was the first time I’d met any of them and it was like 20 questions and I seemed to make people giggle a lot. What age am I? Where did Mark and I meet? When did we get married? Why no kids? It was pretty constant.
After getting lost a couple of times we arrived in a rural village to rows and rows of purple gazeboes and small tables with stools. We were welcomed by the groom and sat at one of said tables with plates of food (which we were very relieved to find none of which contained chicken feet) and clear bottles of a liquid that looked like vodka but was actually rice wine and drank as a shot to toast the groom.  We were a bit warm with the rice wine so goodness knows how the poor groom felt after having to do this with tables and tables of his 800 guests.
The bus journey back to Hanoi was a quiet one considering we knew we had to get up at 5.30am the next day to get an Uber back for part 2 of the wedding.
Luckily, Mark had used up space in one of his cases for his Kilt and all the accompanying elements otherwise he would’ve had nothing to wear to part 2 of the wedding!

Vietnamese Wedding Part 2

We travelled by car with the grooms family and a few of his close friends to go “collect” the bride. We arrived to find that the bride had been having just as big a party at her house.  I would’ve really loved to have known what all the Vietnamese men were thinking and saying to each other as we walked up with Mark in all his kilt glory.  They were all pretty smiley and just about all the men made it their mission to shake his hand.  He did look a bit sheepish (edit by Mark: and felt like a fanny) whilst I thought it was bloody hysterical.

scottish-traditional-dress-in-hanoipng

The Kilt Catwalk!

We all then travelled back to the grooms family home, having collected the bride, her family and a few more guests to enjoy the next part of the wedding.  This consisted of a VERY loud MC chatting a LOT in Vietnamese, a Champagne (fizzy juice) tower, green tea and sunflower seeds, no rice wine but I am forever grateful for the Scottish traditional dress now as Mark produced a rum-filled hip flask from his sporran and offered me a swig to get me by.

the-bride-and-groom
PS I wish I’d read this https://vietnamtrack.com/traditional-vietnamese-wedding/ prior to attending my first Vietnamese wedding.
What’s Missing?

You may have noticed that I promised a lot more in this instalment but I think I’ve rambled on enough, until next time! If anyone has any questions about moving to Hanoi, Pilates in Hanoi or joining the Hanoi International Women’s club email me at [email protected]