Vietnam: Australia Day in Saigon

There are few guarantees in life. Death, Taxes and Aussies all over the globe celebrating our favourite day of the year, January 26 – our Australia Day.

When I think of Australia Day, it reminds me of the good times, cricket on the tele (TV), Snags on the Barbie (Sausages on the BBQ) and as we grew up, listening to Triple J play the Hottest 100 Countdown as we party into the night.

But moving overseas has changed a few things. Restricted access to live sport, home treats are ridiculously expensive and impossible to locate, live streaming music with an internet that was reportedly “eaten by sharks” its dam frustrating and nothing is worse than listening to a song that stops and starts.

Celebrating our holiest of holy days has been a staple of the Australian culture ever since the inception of the Australia Day holiday in 1935. However, it wasn’t until 1994 when it was decided that it would in face be a national day of celebration. And didn’t we Australians take advantage of that. In 2012, approximately 171000 Aussies chucked a “Sickie” (that is for the majority of you who are not familiar with Australian lingo, is a term used when you take a day off work without actually having a reason.)

Here is Saigon we need to be a little more creative in our approach to Australia Day. In most situations living overseas, you do not get your national holiday off (I know, how Un-Australian is that!?) Meat Pies have literally been imported for this special event, giving us a little reminder of what it is like to be home. Sports Bars play Triple J Hottest 100 music countdown over the sound system as we gorge our faces on all-you-can-eat BBQ meats, having conversations about what out favourite childhood Aussie treats were (Wagon Wheels, Golden Roughs, Milky Way, Redskins, Pineapples, Chiko Rolls just to name a few) The Australian Open Tennis is on the big screen with the annual One Day cricket match also being played.

Every now and then, a chant of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oi Oi Oi would ring out, often after a round of shots supplied after someone has lost a bet. The white collars drop in for the long lunch session and a few cheeky beers while the backpackers are grabbing the cheap beers from the convenience store and people watching from the famous mini chairs on the sidewalk.

It was a great feeling to know that even though I was so far away from what I grew up and felt comfortable with back in Oz, our Expat crew here in HCMC could really band together and make an ordinary day here seem special.

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