Today is a day like any other in Vientiane, this lowest of low key South East Asian cities. Chloe desperately tries to wake the Christmas spirit by insisting on a £10 present challenge, watching Scrooged on Christmas Eve and downloading Slade from iTunes. Meanwhile, Allan revels in the lack of festivities and strips the holiday down its bare bones purpose – an excuse for eating unnecessarily rich food and then sleeping it off.
Vientiane is not a shopping mecca, and we both buy each other patchwork stuffed gekkos (the most beloved animal of the holiday so far, for its ability to eat six-legged crawling things). However, Allan goes for the smaller gekko option and somehow also manages to find lumpfish caviar and cinnamon-flavoured soap. So we have Christmas smelling showers and eat caviar on toast for breakfast. That’s Allan, channelling the Spirit of Christmas Present whilst muttering ‘bah humbug!’ under his breath.
Here’s the most Christmassy image we could find of Vientiane – a spooky lifesize Santa outside the hotel opposite. It watches us.