Free fireworks

I woke this morning having slept very badly. Each time I rolled over, even with lovely soft clean sheets, it felt like someone was rubbing my back with sandpaper. Ouch. As a result, I was utterly pooped so cried off work and instead sat at the hostel and worked on Blue Dragon’s web pages. They’re coming along nicely – thanks for asking.

I did pop out very briefly for lunch, just to Pepperoni’s and back, and even in the 200m or so that I covered I could feel my head turning crispy. I can’t put a cap on as my forehead is too painful!

In the afternoon, I took a short break and watched Dukes of Hazzard upstairs with Mike and Max (and half a bar of Cadbury’s I brought back from NZ). Cracking film! Really brings the old series up to date, though it’s not quite so family-friendly.

Later in the evening I started to get peckish and gathered myself up two lovely German girls (Celine and her friend – I apologise for forgetting her name) and we went to the City View. I’d already had a burger for lunch, so I decided on the fried rice with seasonal fruit and veg. And it was superb. Utterly gorgeous. My only complaint was that I wanted more, it was so nice!

The girls went back to the hostel after dinner to wait for a friend who was putting them up for the next couple of nights and I walked the other direction to buy some more DVDs – as if I need them.

There’s a little shop very close to the Bia Hoi area where I buy most of my discs, so I went in there, sat on one of the little stools and begin flipping through the packets. I was after three titles in particular, but as usual I kept spotting more that appealed.

I’d found one when there was a huge series of bangs and flashes immediately across the street from where I was sat. No more than 10 yards from me, a major electrical junction box had exploded. Majorly. In a major way.

It continued to sizzle as the other English man and I in the shop exchanged comments along the lines of “Blimey heck, guv’nor” only with more swearing. The young girl who ran the shop said something about people or children pouring water into it, but I’m not sure if I misunderstood her. She was cowering behind a very small plastic chair at the time.

Then it errupted again. Much more spectacularly. And all the lights went out across the entire block. Discretion being the better part of valour, and having seen enough films with people in electric chairs that I didn’t want to try something similar first hand, I decided that I would – in technical terms – run like hell. As I reached the end of the street, the box let loose another furious tirade of rockets and sparklers as flames and smoke started to pour from it.

One brave/stupid soul jumped into his BMW that was parked right in front of the box and managed to drive it away. Given that insurance is pretty much unheard of here, I can’t say I blame him. I’m sure the paintwork on one side will have been damaged enough. Spurred by his bravery/lunacy, about a dozen more people approached to get a collection of mopeds out of the way of the spreading fire. As they were backing away, once more the box let loose with a huge series of cracks and sparks.

The mopeds were forgotten.

After maybe ten minutes had passed, there was till no sign of any official presence – certainly no fire trucks. An English woman – I’m fairly sure from Yorkshire by her accent – asked me why someone wasn’t putting it out. Well, duh. It’s an electrical fire – you can’t chuck water on it and I can’t see the premises nearby being armed with CO2 (class C) extinguishers. Likewise this wasn’t Baking Powder Street, so that wasn’t an option either.

Instead the crowd lingered, now safely from either end of the 100m-long street and watched as the lower box fed flames to the larger metallic box which in turn started to burn ferociously. I started to eye the cables above warily as the flames were getting very high. This was the point where I thought I better leave. If those cables came down, the next pole they were attached to was at the end of the street. There would be every chance they’d swing down pretty much near where I was.

I left.

And I hadn’t had my camera on me. Gah! That would have made some great video footage as well. I arrived at the hostel like a little kid who’d been to a fireworks display. I even did all the sound effects.

But the fun for the night was not yet over. One of two new arrivals popped up to her room, then came straight back down to say that the door was locked. They have those little buttons on the inside of the handle, and we’re not issued keys as they’re not really meant to be locked.

She sat on the stairs, looking a bit miserable as one of the night staff wandered around trying to find things. First he came down with a screwdriver and tried to pick the lock. Badly. Then he tried shoulder charging it. Eventually, they found some keys, but by this stage the lock was knackered, so the keys wouldn’t turn. Back to the shoulder method.

Our conversation was along the lines of:

“Hi, have you just *BANG* arrived?”

“Yes, *BANG* we just came in from *BANG* Ho Chi *BANG* Minh City.”

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[some time later]

“I really don’t *BANG* think he’s *BANG* going to break *BANG* that door open *BANG* *TEAR* *CRASH*. Well, what do you know.”

Needless to say, the lock needs replaced. I think they’re planning on putting in handles without buttons on this time.

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