11 February 2007

Tet Holidays

I am supposed to be in Kuala Lumpur meeting friends and shopping. That was to be the first week of the two week Tet break. Unfortunately, I screwed up with that passport renewal issue, so I am more or less trapped in Vietnam for the time being.

My passport expires March 2nd. I knew I was cutting things close, but my ticket was booked for February 11th -16th. I was planning on taking my passport in to the consulate upon my return. So when I arrived at the Vietnam Airlines ticket counter at 8:30am, for my 10:30 flight, I was surprised to learn that I cannot enter Malaysia with less than four months on my passport and, in fact, could not have returned to Vietnam with less than six months. So for all intents and purposes, other than traveling to the US, by passport has been null and void for the past five months.

I do take full responsibility, but one would think that the travel agent might have told me about the travel regulations. And what about the HR department at work who deals with my passport and visa situation and work permit on almost a monthly basis? They handed it back to me on Friday knowing that it would expire in a month and knowing that I was traveling to Malaysia in two days. Nevertheless, I am not at all upset except for the fact that I had two people in KL who had arranged their schedules around my visit. In my entire life, I have never let any ID or credential expire, and have never missed a flight, so one screw up is not too bad.

At least my house was clean even if there was no food. I had thrown out, or given away, anything that would spoil which means there was nothing to eat. I waited until the afternoon heat had died down a bit before going to the supermarket. There, I stocked up on fruits and veggies and bought a fresh piece of what I think is tuna.

Between checking my emails to make sure my KL friends had received the cancellation emails I had written, watching TV, and being lazy, I cooked up a pot of rice and this great tuna/vegetable thing. Right as I got to the last bite of my first bowlful, one of my lights blew out. I started to get up when the entire globe around the kitchen light exploded, sending shards of glass throughout the house, and flipping the breaker switch.

Although it was only 6:15pm, it was dark. I opened my front door to let the hallway light in, found my mini mag-light, and lit two candles. I got out the emergency electric company phone number and called in my problem, not that the man understood anything other than where I lived and that there was an electrical problem.

Mr. Bao arrived thirty minutes later. I had to warn him to keep his shoes on because of the glass all over the floor. He went to the main breaker switch outside my apartment and flipped it on. Just try explaining, “But can’t that cause an electrical fire if the wiring is faulty?”, in another language. And yes, this is the SAME damn light that keeps blowing out, although in the past, it has only been the bulb. And as with all the times in the past, Mr. Bao assured me that there was no problem in not turning of the electricity as he proceeded to cut and tape of the offending wires. He will come tomorrow to rewire it.

I really am glad that I was not in the kitchen when the explosion occurred. It might have been rather nasty. I did lose all the food I had cooked, which would have lasted for three more meals. I am not about to chance eating glass shards that may have flown into the uncovered pans on the stove. I have no idea how I will ever get up the micro particles of glass that are everywhere. No bare feet allowed in my house for awhile.

This day has already been way too long and it is only 7:30.
The pictures are from the field trip that I went on yesterday with my Vietnamese language school. I have not the slightest idea why we went to a shoe factory – it was a “Tet Culture” trip. Anyway, more on that later, but the shoes are awesome!