With ample displays of tinsel and fanfare, Saigon’s luxury hotels have begun their annual month-long campaign to become the city’s sole provider of turkey and hangovers.
The holiday season is upon us. If you lean in, close your eyes and hold this magazine to your ear, no doubt you’ll pick up the distant sounds of ABBA’s 1980 hit ‘Happy New Year’ emanating from its pages*. Already, business owners are decorating their storefronts with mistletoe and nude Santa decals. The noble yuletide giraffe – trusty steed of the fourth Wise Man, if memory serves – stands sentinel before convention halls and shopping centres throughout the downtown area. And for reasons none of us will ever comprehend, media outlets the world over have once again permitted Mariah Carey and her endless collection of Bedazzled arm slings to hijack the airwaves for the entire month of December. Indeed, it’s the most wonderful, magical, manic-depressive time of the year.
But perhaps the season’s greatest development is the Hunger Games. No, not the big-budget Hollywood blockbuster starring Jennifer Lawrence and Stanley Tucci’s bouffant; I’m talking about an epic, bloodthirsty, adrenaline-pumping competition that takes place in our very own city. Because someone made the mistake of endowing me with a company email account, I have been the recipient of more buffet brochures, Christmas specials and holiday-themed press releases than you can shake a stick at, and there is no question about what will take place in the coming weeks. With ample displays of tinsel and fanfare, Saigon’s luxury hotels have begun their annual month-long campaign to become the city’s sole provider of turkey and hangovers. And I, Dana Filek-Gibson, will not rest until I have found a victor.
For expats, December can be a roller coaster of highs and lows. One minute, you’re rejoicing in the blissful simplicity of a holiday without your weirdest relatives and the next, nostalgia hits you. Catch a few bars of Bing Crosby and suddenly the flannels come out, the air-con goes on and before the delivery man has even arrived you’re on the bedroom floor, pining for eggnog and your aunt’s tedious, half-baked ramblings. Amid the absence of bad sweaters, Christmas gifts and family tensions, I count the hotel buffet as one of Saigon’s most uplifting yuletide phenomena.
And so, from mid-December on, anyone who wishes to conduct business will find me and most of my previous month’s salary among the city’s well-laden buffet tables. This will be a difficult endeavour – already, I’ve had to reinstate my fat pants, courtesy of Thanksgiving – but I am willing to make the sacrifice. I will leave no salad bar unused, no roll unbuttered, no cake uneaten until only a single buffet remains. As you go forward in your own holiday celebrations, I wish my fellow Saigon residents a happy holiday season. May you find health, happiness and the upscale restaurant with the best free flow champagne deal. Come next year, I entreat you to keep a weather eye on AsiaLIFE‘s upcoming content, as it will all be produced under heavy influence of tryptophan. And if, somewhere on the streets of District 1, you look up and hear the sound of cannon fire, think of me.
*Just kidding. It’s not the magazine; it’s your nearest phone store.