Oct 4, 2009

When the charger broke

My camera uses rechargeable batteries. Mostly I like it, one charge lasts a long time, no batteries to throw away. I keep everything charged up as much as I can. Never know when there might be no electricity for a while.

So I was sitting in my hotel room minding my own business and my camera battery charger starts doing one of those sparking smoking type things that you just know aren't going to end up well. By the time I unplugged it whatever was happening had finished doing it's thing.

I was concerned but not despondent. Three fully charged batteries might well last quite a while. No reviewing and deleting photos, just turn it on, snap, then off it goes. More than likely the geniuses down at the market could fix it.

So down the the big market in Pakse I trotted, or scooted to be more exact. I walked through the phone section until I found a store that not only worked on phones but had a few cameras and video cams lying around in various states of repair. I told him it was sick, figured that was close enough, and he peeled it apart stuck the ohm meter on it. Ten seconds later he speed dialed someone, hung up and said, "Lao no have" then looking at me and using the probe from the ohm meter to point at one of those tiny cylinders with wires coming out the end said emphatically, "this, this, this, no have in Lao"

Yes he was speaking English, doggone kids. Probably Vietnamese or Chinese or something. No doubt hated English in school but aced it anyway to go to the good college. And that third language without even trying he speaks it a lot better than I speak the language of the market. I thanked him heavily, he smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said, "maybe Thailand". I still had one possibility.

As soon as I got to Vientiane I got myself on down to the morning market. They are tearing it up and it's hard to find your way around now. Huge pieces are construction zones. Shame really it used to be pretty easy, all the stores that sold similar stuff in one place, many ways to enter or leave each section.

The gold repair used to be along the east side back in the day, adjacent to the street across from the bus station but a little further down. Now it's just off the corner on the east side and no parking on the street. The turn in is where they take away all the trash too so it's not always pleasant.

He's the guy behind the counter

I found the gold repair places and sure enough that same guy was there who fixed my telephoto back thirteen years ago. We spoke Lao. I told him I didn't think it could be fixed in Laos. He did the same thing with the call on the cell phone but told me it would be 300,000 kip and the part would come from Udon Thani on the bus. I said great. Then he asked me if I understood and started to write it out so I repeated it slowly and said I understood. Some electronics store in Udon Thani would have to ship it on the bus, it would get left across the street, and he'd go get it and probably pay the money which would then reverse the same route. I thought the charge reasonable.

Lots of love for old TV repair men who have evolved with the times and also young smart Asian techies no matter thier country of orgin.


Chintana said...

Hi...I'm a Laotian living in Orlando, FL who is currently writing a memoir of how my family left Laos when I was less than two years old. I came across your blog some time ago and have been reading it routinely. I also started a blog of my own and recently posted about how the anniversary of the Berlin Wall triggered memories of my family's journey...thought I would share: http://ilikezen.com/

Somchai said...

That was great, I'm going to try to link directly here.


bathmate said...

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