uring my first few months in HCMC I stayed in a guest house on and off for a few weeks at a time. The guesthouse was close to work, and next to tons of cheap eating places in the heart of the ‘backpacker’ district. However, with the good comes the bad…right? For $18 a night I didn’t expect to have a penthouse view, so when I arrived in my room and pulled back the curtains to see what my view was, I wasn’t surprised to find out I looked out on a huge mud pit which was masquerading as a construction site. Who needs views of trees when you can have a lovely view of large cranes…not the birds. Since I worked during the day, I felt this noisy construction ‘mess’ wouldn’t bother me – so I let it roll right off my back as you are supposed to do in Asia if you want to survive. However, soon I realized that I had overlooked the golden rule in Asia…there are no rules.
The construction was conducted 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have no idea how many crews of people they had coming and going – but there was at least 15 people working around the site every time I looked out the window. It didn’t matter if it was pouring down rain, or if it was 3am; they were still there, working away driving pylons in a pit of mud that swallowed them like quick sand when they tried to walk.
With the 24/7 activity, came a symphony of sounds. Sadly the sounds didn’t resemble Mozart, instead they were the classic masterpieces of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Phantom of the Opera.
Who knew that I would be awoken at 3AM by broadway tunes in Vietnam? One night at midnight I was serenaded by Christmas music. It’s like dueling banjos each tune competing in volume over the next. Strangely enough the music was coming from the construction site vehicles; surprising…not really. All over Asia trucks and large vehicles have a warning signal for when they back up. However, it’s not the traditional beep, beep, beep that we are used to in North America, it’s more sophisticated than that. It’s generally a whole tune that sounds like it’s coming from an old, tinny Atari game from 1980. A cheap tinny speaker sound that is invoked each time a truck is put in reverse; at any time of the day or night.
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