Yesterday was rather uneventful. I spent part of the afternoon discussing rent with some foreigners who live here, trying to determine what I should charge. I had a couple come to see the new house, me thinking that we would be moving in the house closer to the family.
You see, I am lucky enough to have two great properties here. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One I will refer to as the new house. I bought it In Feb 2009 as a future rental property and investment. The other is the heritage house. This house belonged to our parents and we intended to live there.
The heritage home is on a large lot. It has six bedrooms, two bathrooms on two floors. The roof is a full patio where you can sit, relax, and watch the city around you. The back yard contains another small house and a detached Kitchen. It is down a small lane away from traffic. It is located in the same lane as much of the family. It is a bit older, dated, and in need of repair, but it is still almost a mansion by most Vietnamese standards.
The new house is located a bit of distance from the heart of the city in a new sub division. It boasts marble floors, counter, and stairs. It has quality ceramic covering the walls. It only has 3 bedrooms but has a giant kitchen, dining room, and living room. There is a small den area with French doors that open onto a veranda which rounds the house on three sides, ending in a small patio area at the back. It also has a car port that can fit up to 3 automobiles. It is a beautiful place, close to the ocean. I have had comments that it looks like a museum and the only thing missing is the ivory white statues. I have to admit that living here for the past month has been nice. The house is beautiful, and the neighborhood and its people great. I have been discussing with my darling wife that I wish to stay here. The family however, would really like us to come live amongst them.
After showing the new house, the couple wanted to see the heritage house as a comparison. The value I can get for rent seems to be about the same. Because of the location, they seemed much more interested in renting the heritage house. Huh… If they agree to our terms, it looks like I will get my wish and stay here. It will be nice to have the final decision made so we can start furnishing. Living out of suitcases and sitting on lawn furniture can only go on so long. Things change here fast and most things are fluid, flowing here and there, which brings me to today’s topic.
Vietnam is a very fluid country. It seems there are constant waves and ripples that transform the country. The people are like an army of ants endlessly rebuilding what was destroyed, or altering things damaged, or just plain modifying things. A home might grow by added sections as a family grows, to an unusual unique structure. A road that you traveled on last year could be washed out and a new road winding in a different area might exist. Just because something exists today and looks permanent, does not mean it will be there tomorrow. Or on the other hand, a lot that is empty may have something there tomorrow. Restaurants are a very good example. Most of them use plastic chairs, and folding tables covered by something decorative if nothing at all. The structure around is often 2 inch tree limbs tied together and tarped or covered with tin. The kitchens use clay or propane stoves. Think about it…. The whole restaurant can be packed into a small truck and moved at a moments notice, and sometimes it has to. Many of these establishments are not licensed and can be shut down by any angry policeman. Not that they will as I see many military and police frequenting these places. The vast majority of the small restaurants are set up roadside and can be carried by one transport type motorcycle. In the morning, all tables will be occupied, but by 10:00 the tables and chairs will be gone and only a sidewalk will exist. That same spot might be occupied by a juice stand, or a small convenience store later in the day.
This fluidity is true of almost everything here. In 1999 the area I live and the hotel I run was in Jungle. Just rattan huts with banana leaf roofs. In 2006 we visited a family near the river. Now, the whole neighborhood is gone and now a road with restaurants exists. The road does not even really go anywhere. In an area where majestic French Colonial hotels stood are now construction barriers. I have been to many places I know only to find the same people there, however, the circumstances of their life changed and so the landscape changed with them.
Good for them…. Vietnamese people are endlessly adapting people. Maybe they get this rebuilding ability from the country’s history. It has been endlessly occupied and under siege. Lives were constantly destroyed, but had to be built or put together again.
If you come here make sure to photograph anything that is important to you…… It may not be there tomorrow.