Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Things I hate about VN - Powercuts

Living in the U.K. for most of my life, I've been blessed that I could take having non-stop, 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year electricity for granted. If I'm cold, I can turn up the heater, if my phone is out of batter, I plug the charger into the outlet and if I buy a months worth of frozen food, I can be sure that it won't thaw and go bad. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Ho Chi Minh City.

Now, I'm not overly sure how the power works out here but from gossip and hearsay I've made out the following:

1) The power to the city is hydroelectric. (which is great as it saves the planet)
2) The reservoirs run dry at the end of the dry season. (this leaves insufficient supplies to generate enough power, which isn't so great)
3) The government (presumably) rations the power and allocates cuts to different districts of the city. (which is damned inconvenient)

So, what are the effects of this on my life. Well, we've been having powercuts on and off for about 3 months now, with the latest being yesterday for 5 hours. As you know, the South of Vietnam is pretty mild. In fact, I'm not sure if it ever falls below 24 degrees C. Therefore, especially when I'm sleeping (with a heavy head), the last thing I need to wake up in a pool of my own sweat. Thus, a potentially refreshing, nourishing nights sleep turns out to compound the destructive, dehydrative force of beer. Without beer I usually feel pretty bad when waking up after a powercut so with alcohol you can image the state of my head!

Furthermore, as the powercuts generally last for about 5 hours, food, in particular frozen foods, tend to become inedible, due to thawing or refreezing. It's inconvenient, costly and once caused me to have food poisoning as I once ate refrozen ice cream thinking that my iron stomach could handle it! As a consequence I rarely buy frozen foods as I can't be sure that we are not going to have a powercut.

Other results from Saigon's lack of power is the inability to iron my shirt and trousers before work, having to go to a coffee shop to use the internet and charging my phone as the outages invariably happen with I have low battery!

I guess I'm just used to living in developed countries where having constant, non-failing electricity so it's more of an inconvenience for me than it is for those who are used to it. However, I find it really annoying, especially as half the time they are unannounced. Hopefully in the not too distant future, we will have non-stop power, but for now, I just have to pray that they come on mornings when I wasn't drinking the night before, or when I've just stocked up my refrigerator. And for your information, both of these things happen last time!


  1. Wow in Vietnam you power your phones on batter? ;-)

    Glad to hear you're keeping the British beer drinking tradition.

  2. You should try it! Batter is the only way to charge a phone! One of my better typos! You can take Jones out of the UK, but habits die hard! Not that there's any good beer to drink out here!