31 December 2005


Six hours until 2006. It never feels like a year has come and gone, but it especially doesn’t feel real this year. Maybe it is because I have lived in quite a number of places in the past year, and now am in a really different spot.

The other night I was trying to remember in how many different countries I had spent New Years Eve: Mexico, Brazil, Israel, Egypt, Malaysia, and now Vietnam. (Brazil was the best.) I went to sleep thinking about all of them. When the alarm awakened me the next morning, for a nano-second I didn’t know where I was. I was sure I wasn’t in “my bed” and that didn’t bother me. But I had to run through that list of countries before I remembered.

One hour to go. Between those last paragraphs and this one, I went out for a while. I had received an invitation to a concert by some local choir, to be held at the Ferris wheel next door. The program listed traditional music as well, so I thought it might be nice.

All the rides at the park were lit up, and some were running. I think I explained before that this amusement park is on the scale of a small carnival, situated amongst palm trees and greenery. They had erected a large stage and assembled plastic chairs just to the left of the swinging pirate ship, which screeched and groaned with every sway. Having recently rained, (although this is supposed to be the dry season), the chairs were wet. I perched on the edge of one.

As the choir started, I had to plug my ears. They were backed by taped music and the volume was turned up loud enough to fill a 700,000 seat arena. Whether they were good or not was hard to tell. However, what I could hear was not exactly easy listening music. When they started in on some Christmas type songs, I got up to walk around.

Families and couples milled about and some kids were on a few rides. I walked over to the jittery-looking carousel. I heard the ring-ring announcing the start of the ride. All of a sudden, the merry-go-round lurched forward and started moving way to quickly. I thought I was about to witness toddlers being hurled through the air. Fortunately, it slowed down almost immediately. I watched as it creaked around and around.

I then returned the few steps to the stage area, hoping to see some of the traditional music. I watched as a group of youngsters, dressed in Santa suits and carrying violins, marched on stage with their teacher. They had to cover their eyes as they were being blinded by stadium lights. Eventually, the light situation was sorted, and the music began, again at 3000 decibels. It was the Glo-ooo-oo-o-oooo--oo-oo-o-ria, en excelsis deo, backed by a disco track. It was time to head out into the night.

And what a night it was. About 8:30 and 80 degrees, and I had dressed for the chilly night air. As I walked down the street I passed a few people doing the same. This isn’t what you’d call a rocking suburb, but it was New Years Eve, so I walked the three blocks to the local pub.

I have been there before, but only in the day to sit at an outside table and drink ice tea. That’s what I did for a short while tonight. Almost no one was there. I am sure the hard core boozers were in town, although I have heard it is a madhouse in the center. Apparently, thousands and thousands of people fill the streets and just stroll and talk.

I finished my night by dropping into Lotteria, a Korean fast food joint. The only thing I ever have bought there is ice cream, and that was what I wanted. I got a sundae to go, which consisted of a tiny blob of soft ice cream, drizzled with some imitation strawberry gook. The counter person slapped on a lid, dropped it in a plastic bag, then scooped ice on top. I had been wondering how it would survive the trip home.

It is now 12:05 am, 2006. I just was out on my bitty balcony, camera in hand, set on night mode, and NOTHING! No fireworks, no neighbors hooting it up, no car horns, (not that there are any chairs on the streets I look on to), nothing but still air! I thought there must be something on TV, but all they had was very embarrassing footage from a club in Hanoi, where some really horrid band dressed in red satin Cossack shirts, was signing Santana music, while the lead singer, (American) kept looking at his watch. There looked to be 20 people n the club, seated quietly at tables, while a few hoochy-coochy gals with the band tried their best to wiggle. (You do realize this does mean there still is hope for me as a bar chanteuse). They cut back to the news room when the guy said, “30 seconds till midnight”.

I have lasted to see in the New Year, while many of you are still waking up in 2005. Do go out and have more fun than I did.

Auld Lang Syne