Archive for March 2009
It has been half a year now and overall I think it turned out OK. The style is pretty unique and has gotten me lots of compliments. However there are several missing features:
-No cable outlet (except for the master bed).
-Lack of power outlet (none in the bathroom or hallway, only 1 in the loft)
-No internet outlet (except for the master bed).
-The electricty is not grounded. I did tell the constructor but he said it was not a big deal. In retrospect I shouldnt have bulged on this.
-Lack of ventilation. Since I built the house pretty airtight, it gets quite stifling if the AC isn’t on. But of course that gets expensive. Recently I installed 2 wind-powered turbines on the roof, which take the hot air in the attic out and make the inside of the house a bit cooler. One of these days I will install ventilators in each room, together w/ the AC.
-Low water pressure. Water supply here sucks. Every house, including mine, has a reservoir up on the roof, which supplies water throughout the house. My reservoir, however is on the 3rd floor. My kitchen is on the 2nd. Since the distance traveled by the water is too short, there is virtually no pressure in the kitchen’s faucet. I paid 1.5 mil for a water pressurizer but that didn’t help.
-Low ceiling. Since I hid all the pipes and wires through the ceilings (instead of inside the wall, like most new houses in Sg), they had to be lowered. In retrospect I wished I had kept a better eye on the lowering of these ceilings because in several instances, I caught them lowering the ceilings more than necessary.
-No hot water. Except for the shower head, there is no hot water. This is my fault. I shouldn’t have listened to the constructor, who successfully convinced me there was no need for hot water in such climate.
This is just a general list about the whole house. In the upcoming posts I ll detail the things I m unhappy about, floor by floor.
Living here in Sg, you have to deal with lots of shit. I m listing them here so when I leave this place, I can read this post and go “Man that is a huge pile of shit I leave behind”:
1. You have to register your residence w/ the local cops. Since my visa only allows me to stay in VN for 3 months, this means my landlord must bring my passport and visit the police station to renew my stay every 3 months.
2. One time, the local cop saw T around 11pm, he demanded to know why she was here at such hour. In fact his manner was so threatening that after he left, we were so stressed out about what they might do if they caught her and decided it was best she didnt spend the night (For those not in the know, you have to register yourself to the local cops if you stay at someone else’s house)
3. One time when I was away, they visited my store and had my staff call me, asking for a donation for some stupid army day celebration. That seems to be the only thing they are good at, asking for money and when failed, causing trouble. When my staff lost his bike, they were totally useless. In fact, they had the nerve to come inside my store a few weeks later, unannounced, and started speaking in a loud and rude manner in front of my customers, asking me why I let my staff park his bike there w/ no chain. That was the 2nd time they had done so. This time they threatened to confiscate all bikes w/ no chain. Of course they have no legal basis to do so (I checked).
4. Just 15′ ago, 2 women came in, introduced themselves as people from the District and wanted to go upstairs and see the home owner. I told my staff I wasnt the home owner and they asked him who I was and how many people lived here. Not satisfied w/ his answer, they told him they ll be back tomorrow morning, aka Sunday morning. For what I dont know. I may have to see them tomorrow myself and see what is going on.
From Dec to start of Feb virtually all my staff has been visited by a con artist. They all happened while I was either upstairs or out of the house:
-Before the bookstore opened, my friend Ben and I had to build the bookshelves. So we put my black Martin bicycle outside since there was no space left inside. When I put it outside I told Ben “Whoever steals this bike must have some balls since we are right here”. Ben said “Yeah. We gonna smack them w/ this hammer” and we both had a good laugh about it. So we were nailing and sawing, trying to make sure everything was straight and study and before you knew, the bike was gone. Some guy obviously staked out our place and in a split second jumped on the Martin and ran for all that his life was worth.
-This happened just when the store opened. All I remember now is 2 young kids came in and looked around. When they left Dinh realized her phone was gone.
-Some kids ran it and stole the decoration ball of my Xmas tree during Minh’s shift.
-Minh lost a cell phone. She was w/ her friends while 2 customers came in. They asked for her help locating some books. When they left her phone was gone.
-Linh lost a cell phone. This time it was 2 chinese guys. They had 100 usd bill and wanted to get vnd back for the book they bought. When Linh gave them back to vnd, they changed their minds and started speaking Chinese. At the same time they yanked the usd bill back and said they wouldnt buy the book anymore. After they left, Linh realized 700K vnd was missing, along w/ her phone.
-H.A and Quan left their helmets outside. They too were stolen.
-Quan lost his bike end of Feb. This was a big incident since it was a 20mil super dream. Thuan, my software guy, was sitting upstairs in the loft. Quan was downstairs. 2 young Vietnamese stopped at Thuan’s bike and started touching it. Quan came out and said “What are you doing?” to which they replied “We are looking for doctor X”. “There is no doctor X here”, Quan said suspiciously. “Go away” so they left. At which point Quan turned his back and walked inside. When he was midway in, he looked back and saw a 3rd guy on his dream. He ran out but it was too late. The dude was gone. As a result, he has been grounded ever since. To go to school he takes the bus which takes 2 hrs.
-H.A lost his cell phone. Same deal. 2 people came in, distracted him somehow and took the phone.
-On Tuesday the electricity was out. So I closed shop but forgot to bring the ramp (to push the motorcycle in and out of the house) outside. An hour later the electricity came back on. I reopened the store and it was gone.Whoever stole it did it for the metal worth. Cost me 250K to replace and the new one isnt as asthetically pleasing as the old one. I now have to paint to black tomorrow to match the color of the door.
-I dont remember exactly when but 2 of my remote controls (to control the AC downstairs) disappeared. WTF? Who on earth would steal a remote control? Not once but twice *$@@*!
Even since I opened the store, all sorts of thieves/con artists have come by. Here they are, in chronologically order:
-Marketing guy (from “Panasonic”) came in and said if I had just installed ACs. When I said yes he said he had a promotional gift but I had to get the receipt from Panasonic. He seemed professional (shirt tugged in, dress pants, carrying a laptop bag) and had a nice bike. So I was like “Fine” so I walked upstairs to get the receipts. He, uninvited, followed me. I was thinking “WTF. This is weird.” Plus he didnt take off his shoes. Anyway I didnt think much of it. I just said “Wait here in the loft”. Within 10s I came down w/ the proper docs. He looked at it and said “It is not correct. You need this” He then pulled out of his laptop bag a different certificate. At this point I was like “It is ok. I dont need your stupid gift. Get out” to which he replied “You are sure you dont want this vacuum cleaner?” which caused me to pause and think “I do need a vacuum cleaner” I know, I m greedy:) So I said “Wait here” and ran upstairs again. This time I took me over 5mins to get something that looked like what he wanted. When I ran downstairs I saw he was already on his bike, with my Macbook Pro in his hands!!! I rushed out as fast as I could thinking “fucker!there is no way i gonna take my 2k laptop, w/ all my pics and docs in it”. I busted the door open and punched him squarely in the face,as hard as I could. There wasnt even a 2nd thought. He was stunned. And so was I! To be honest I cant even remember the last time I fought someone. And this dude was big. May be he even has a knife. For a split second there he just stood and I just stood. Then he came to and started pointing upstairs. I was like “WTF ARE YOU POINTING AT?” My mind raced at lightning speed and so was my heart. “Is there someone else inside? Did he take my Macbook Air also?” I quickly yanked the bag from him, closed the door, locked it and ran upstairs to check. Oh yeah..before I ran upstairs I looked back at him and said “Wait here you little fuck!” By the time I went back down (this time w/ a baseball bat) he was gone.
I went back to the loft and just sat there for the next 10 mins thinking about what just happened. In retrospect I should never have let him in the house. His action of following me should have signaled to me something was askew. The only reason why he knew I had some ACs installed was that he saw empty cardboard boxes laying around. Admittedly he was brave enough to follow me upstairs. He couldnt take anything the 1st time because I got the docs quickly, which caused him to hesitate the 2nd time around. I dont regret punching him. If I had to do it all over again, I would have beaten him senseless. Who knows how many Saigonese have fallen victims to his cons. The least I could do was to a. take justice into my own hands and b. send him to jail for good.
This incident was my first wake-up call and from it I learned to be more guarded and reserved. Life here is tough and from it mean people were born. Little did I know how mean it really is (to be continued)
2, 3 times a week I stop by De Tham and had 2, 3 bowls of hot tau hu. Yesterday around 1am was no exception. As I was eating, a japanese girl stopped,ordered a bowl an gave the vendor 5000 vnd. The vendor took the money and as she was about to give 2000 vnd change, she realized the girl was a foreigner and embarrassingly took the 2000 vnd back. Of course the Japanese was like “Hmmm” but she didnt say anything. I could tell by the expression of her face that she suspected something was wrong. So when 2 guys finished their bowls and paid, I kept an eye on her and saw she looked at the vendor as she gave change. Then she turned to her Vietnamese friend and mumbled something to the effect of “That woman ripped me off”
Anyway, I cant really blame the vendor. It is her tofu. She can charge whatever she wants. Since she was betting on the Japanese not being a regular customer, it was a good decision to maximize this one-time profit. This type of practice is prevalent all over Vietnam. In Hoi An, the restaurants and tailor shops have one menu for foreigners, one for Vietnamese and one for locals. When I checked in a hotel in hanoi, they said 250K. After I checked in and had to give them my passport, they saw I was American and increased the price to 300K. I was pissed.
I was like “Do I shit more into your toilet now that I became naturalized?” but they were firm. “It is policy,” they said.
Anyway I m trying to find a way to end this post but cant. On one hand I sympathize with the vendor. On the other hand I sympathize with the Japanese. All I had then and all I m having now is a confused feeling, kinda like a resigned feeling about life and all the people living it.