As we prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving I can’t help but think of our Thanksgiving feast from last year. Last year we ate at the Texas BarBQ & Steaks Restaurant in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Nha Trang Vietnam is a beach resort town in Southern Vietnam. I did not know this before, but many resort towns are dedicated the vacationing needs of one country. Multiple times we wandered unsuspecting into a town that had the feel of little America, little Germany, little England etc. etc. In Nha Trang we ran into little Russia. Nha Trang was where we first discovered this beach town phenomenon and we were perplexed by the signs in the Cyrillic alphabet, the greetings given to us by vendors and the prolific amounts of sunscreen, sun burn relief massages and vodka for sale.
While this was new, different and pretty cool I was feeling deflated. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I had been looking forward to a good American Thanksgiving. I was starting to feel a little home sick and had been looking forward to the holiday. On Wednesday we decided to go to a Mexican Burrito Shack for lunch. Mexican food in Asia is very rare and often very bad. This burrito shack was run by an American, he was able to point us in the direction of Texas BarBQ & Steaks for Thanksgiving dinner.
At Texas BarBQ we were fed smoked turkey, glazed ham, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roll and pie! A veritable feast. I was elated but a little sad about the lack of cranberry sauce (my favorite part of thanksgiving dinner). The men at the table next to us pulled out a can of cranberry sauce that they had brought with them, they gave some to us which helped to provide that sharing/togetherness feeling of Thanksgiving. At the end of the meal we were given the opportunity to take our picture in real American cowboy hats, thank you Vietnam!
I know the history of Thanksgiving is detestable, but I love the holiday that it has become. A truly American holiday celebrating family, community, compassion, thankfulness and gluttony. Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there no matter where you are. (and Happy belated thanksgiving to all the you Canadians)
***On a related, but not Thanksgiving note.***Brief history lesson time, for people like me who somehow know very little history despite 16 years of schooling. Russia and Vietnam are strong allies. The Vietnamese war was billed as a civil war in most of the world. The losing southern part of vietnam had the powerful allies of the United States, Australia and “the free world”. The winning Northern side was led by Ho Chi Minh and had the powerful allies of Russia, China, and the communist manifesto.
The strong post communist ties are very clear to see in how all these countries deal with their dead leaders. Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Lenin are all embalmed and on display for their adoring fans. Every year Ho Chi Minh has to make a trip to Russia so they can keep his body in tip top shape.
But I have digressed; Vietnam and Russia have very old and very strong relationship. Due to this strong relationship it is very easy, cheap and safe for Russians to vacation in Vietnam.