Monday, October 3, 2011

What's That Smell?

This was a question Johnny often asked me in our apartment and justifiably so. To put it simply, every so often (and more and more often) our house would just smell weird, and weird in a bad way.

Johnny described it as "like a dead rat in our vents", which is coincidental because Tammy who lives in the same building the next day described it as "like a dead rat in the vents". I however took the more rational approach and said "it smells like Vietnam". Once it smelled like delicious Vietnamese food so I was totally right.

Then came the day that Tammy actually got the building maintenance guys in and found there was some kind of leak in the roof. This meant there was dirty Vietnam water festering in the dark warm air and that was THE smell. So kind of like a dead rat after all. In what should have been a glaringly obvious clue that also explained the water damage stain that had begun to appear on our ceiling.

Unconnected to the main smell there was another, probably more awful smell in our laundry.

So we get the maintenance guys in. Keep in mind this is one of the most, if not the most "prestigious" and expensive apartments building in Hanoi. Of course it doesn't smell they get here, but this is a summary of the type of things that went down.

A concierge chick and maintenance guy come and have a look. They discuss and decide the solution is to the paint the ceiling. I tell them it's leaking and they need to FIX THE LEAK. He decides he needs to discuss the problem with other technicians. I tell him we already know the problem, they solved the exact same one in the other apartment, so they need to FIX THE LEAK.

They discuss more and he grudgingly leaves to get a ladder and comes back 15 minutes later. He comes back with another concierge chick (so now there are two) and looks in the roof. It seems there is a leak. I tell the new girl they need to FIX THE LEAK. She explains what the problem is- "the air-conditioning is too cold". She also goes on to say, that it won't leak anymore, it's happened before and now it won't leak anymore.

The important part here is "it's happened before", it's happened again, and although they have done nothing at this point, magically it WON'T LEAK AGAIN.

Things get hazy here, mostly because if I think about it more my mind goes hazy from lack of any sort of rational at play. I wish I could tell you that my careful explaining about how if you eliminate the leak now there won't be a smell, or a stain and therefore you won't have to paint the ceiling (for a third time), or how if there was an leak because the air-con was "too cold" then they needed to fix the air-con suddenly clicked everything into place for them. Alas, there wouldn't be a blog entry if that was the case.

She told me when I used the air-conditioning that I should close all the curtains and slooowly put the temperature down.

Then they painted the ceiling.

Ironically, one of the girls dropped off a Service Quality Survey today. I looked through the questions and I couldn't actually note a bad thing. The smell seems to be gone after all and the ceiling is painted. Shock horror they even called after the work was done and asked if everything was okay. The next day as I walked in another girl asked how things were too.

The conclusion? Just like they are, I'm just hoping for the best.


  1. Tell me again why you moved back to Vietnam?


  2. Dude that sounds kind of like sticking your fingers in your ears and singing la-la-la-la. In any case, I hope it works out ok for you x

  3. And do you feel your "lobby ambient" is luxury enough? You should write: NO. NEEDS MORE CHANDELIERS.

  4. @Cara So I could write unique blog entries such as this

    @Sai It seems like the least painful option right now. I'm going to silently wait until it starts again and then wiggle my finger at them

    @James It's the struggle street of Vietnam

    @Tabitha Nothing is more luxury than the smell of cinnamon!