Monday, January 3, 2022

I Am Drained

We have lived in Vietnam for three years now. We spent two years in China before that. You would think that in that amount of time, we would have things figured out. However, we still get surprised now and then.

One of the things I love "am amused by" about living on this side of the world is the lack of concern for rules or safety. If something needs to be done--just do it. My neighbor once drilled a hole in the curb in front of his house to access the drainage system under the sidewalk. His street was flooding, so he fixed it. He didn't call the city planning commission, notify a zoning board or get any kind of permit. He just drilled a hole. In the States, my dad once got hit with a fine for tearing down an old shed on his own property.

Driving down the road, you might see a hole big enough to swallow a bus. Someone will put tape around it until the city gets around to fixing it. No signage is placed to warn of the upcoming hazard. The tape is sufficient.

In the States, we need a heads-up two miles ahead of time for a lane merge in the highway. Here, they just have the crazy expectation that drivers should be paying attention. It's the same reason there are virtually no traffic lights anywhere despite the amount of traffic.

Power lines sag low enough you could grab them, but people don't. And there is a reason for that. You know what they are, stay clear. If you happen to die, well…you must not have been very smart. 

These lack of regulations apply to household products as well. A product I have used here many times is a drain cleaner. This is some serious stuff. If your shower stops draining, you buy a bottle of this stuff to pour in the drain. It is instantaneous. The moment you break the seal on the bottle, you can feel your lungs beginning to collapse and burn. I have a method for using this stuff.

I have learned to be standing directly over the drain, hold my breath and break the seal. Empty the contents quickly and exit the bathroom before you run out of breath. Go back in a few days to dispose of the empty bottle.

The water starts to drain almost before you even pour anything in. The fumes are that strong. The moment that stuff hits the drain, the excess water is sucked out of the house. That bottle essentially contains concentrated molten acid. I'm not even sure the water exists anymore.

So, when my kitchen sink failed to drain one day, I grabbed my lucky bottle of liquid hell and dumped it in. It took less than a second for the sink to drain and flooded my kitchen with very "bitey" dirty water. Apparently, the pipes in the kitchen are not lava-proof like the bathroom pipes are.

The inside of the pipes are now spotless

The pipe was obliterated as well as everything that was stored under the sink. All of our cleaning products leaked everywhere when the bottles they were stored in disintegrated. The brushes and scrubbing implements no longer exist and the various mops we used very carefully to clean up our acid eco-disaster had to be blessed and ritually destroyed by a priest.

Luckily, we have marble floors. It did not eat through the marble, but it did go right through the grouting between the tiles and stained every marble surface into a unrecognizable color.

 I managed to get it all cleaned up and only lost two and a half toes in the process. I now wonder if the pipes under the bathroom are more sturdy or just underground so I don't know what damage I have done. I do know there can't possibly be any ants or rats under our house.


  1. It sounds like no one gets sued. That's the only reason we do things so carefully here. If you don't, you might get sued. Not sure which is the better approach, actually.

  2. Wow. Did you seriously lose two toes??? I agree with Liz in that I'm not sure which is the best approach. Probably somewhere in the middle, altho I might tend toward the have some common sense, man! group.

    1. It is used and advertised as a drain cleaner. And that is exactly how I used it.

  3. In two years, the stain on the marble has faded slightly, but it's still there and messes with me every time I mop.

  4. I have noticed this point during my visit to many countries. That has made me think that India is by and large a lawless nation, which somehow seems to be ticking along well (despite all the problems we have!)

    Like Liz said above, it's difficult to categorize one as good and the other as bad. It all depends on how it works. If it works to everyone's good, then it's good. But if it's going to mess up lives, then it's bad.

    However, a society needs to have rules, definitely. It's also an issue of how strict they are, and how they are imposed on its people.

    1. It all seems to work. But it definitely takes some getting used to.


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