Wednesday, June 16, 2010
If the guy on top gets electrocuted the guy lower down takes over. That's the power back up system in Saigon.
For the past couple of months daytime temperatures have been hovering around 100 degrees here. Even the natives are complaining. When it's this hot you want to be inside with the A/C on and the fans turning. Unfortunately, there isn't enough power in Vietnam to go around so power in the industrial and hi-tech parks is usually only available 3 days a week. Most of those plants have their own aux generators so they can keep going. In the rest of the city the power authority does its best to keep it on, but every day some neighborhoods get taken off the grid to save the system from catastrophic failure. If you're lucky you find out ahead of time. If not, the lights go out, the A/C goes off, and you grab your laptop and head for a coffee shop with wifi in another part of town. I've come to know that if the power fails before 10am it will be off most of the day.
I'm almost as fascinated by the wires and wire bundles of Saigon as I am by the mysterious rules that govern motorbike traffic. I've been told that it's so difficult to figure out what the wires are actually hooked up to that the power company waits until they fall down - then they trace them back to the source. Take a look at this picture and multiply it by every intersection in a city of 8 - 10 million. It's a miracle anyone can figure it out.
Yesterday the Seattle Times had an article entitled "Deadly shocks in Vietnam raise safety-rule concerns." At least somebody is paying attention, but I guess when school kids start to die because there are live wires on school grounds or customers die because they touched an ungrounded ATM it starts to get noticed. Check it out:
It's an exciting, some would say electrifying, place. Remember to wear your rubber soled shoes.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Marilynn made these observations about the women of Vietnam recently.
"The woman thing” here is fascinating----it is very hard to get real info; so much of what I say is just based on observation and what people who have been here a long time say. All day long there are multitudes of men sitting on little plastic chairs on the street mostly in groups---during the day they smoke, drink coffee, gossip, or gamble. At night it's the same but with beer.
People truly live on the street here even if they have somewhere else to go. Women only sit on the little chairs to eat and then leave. No ”lollygagging” as my Mother used to say.
Women seem to “man" all of the food stands that are everywhere on the street. Same with most shops, and, by the way, the stands have to be pushed into place everyday. It's usually a long push and the sites have no running water, so they bring that too---plus all the ingredients collected fresh early in the day.
Older women seem to be the primary street sweepers and garbage collectors---this is very unattractive work, dirty, hot and collection is to pushcarts—so of course they are pushing them by hand---all the woman of this class wear the print polyester/silkish pajamas. This includes all of the construction women even if they are mixing concrete. Women seem to carry most of the “loads,” bars balanced across shoulders---heavy loads both baskets-----even very old women who have some difficulty doing this.
This is the Vietnamese social security system-----Maybe some of our folks screaming about entitlements should see this---probably just say “they should have pulled themselves out of this while they could.”
Then there are the brides---Jack and I spend Sunday AM’s in a very Starbuckish coffee place across from the big cathedral ---watching endless parades of brides in the most elegant of Vera Wang---like dresses---we are told that most of the dresses are rental—but they are beautiful---the hair and makeup too are gorgeous---even the most ordinary of girls look luscious----the whole wedding thing is amazing it is a huge business here---I don’t know who the brides are but it looks like a real setup for long term disappointment from here---they arrive by limo or taxi with a decked out groom and a cadre of red carpet type photographers who rearrange the veils---float them for pictures—have the brides running and the train floating---it is so amazing and funny to us and sort of sad…………….me thinks the groom will be in a little plastic chair in about a year………….