Friday, August 15, 2008

House Hunting

With the prospect of being homeless in ten days Ryan and I hit the streets of Hanoi with wild abandon. Here were the candidates for our new house:

House 1:

The first house San took us to was right near Lenin Park -- the biggest park in Hanoi. It was also much closer to Ryan's office than our old house and about two times the size of our old place. Those were the positives. The negatives were that it was in an alley and I was having flashbacks of my first house experience (for you newcomers search the blog for when I was robbed by Ninjas in my sleep). The house was also really dirty and just didn't have any real charm to it.

House #2:

San took us out to Tay Ho district, the Beverly Hills of Hanoi. We saw this AWESOME house that was somehow transported directly from the 70s. There were huge glass windows with tons of natural light and a garden in front of the place. There was also a gigantic rooftop deck with a view of West Lake. The problem, and this was a big problem, is that it would be a really far commute for Ryan to get to work. We figured it would take at least 25 to 30 minutes. That's just a pain in the ass. San suggested to us a couple of times that this was the house for us but we decided to wait a day or two before rushing into a decision. Plus, we took what San said with a grain of salt. After all our landlord is on his butt to get us out of her house as quickly as possible.

House #3:

Huyen joined the house hunting process and called a bunch of real estate agents for us. This morning we were told to meet at the Oprah House to see a nearby place. This was really exciting since the Oprah House is in a great location and could be a very cool spot to live. We were also told that the house was extremely nice. This would have been a good combination. Yes, "would have been." We showed up at the Oprah House and met the agent. He told us to follow him. We jumped on our bikes and started to follow...and follow...and follow. After we got on the highway I started to realize that perhaps this house wasn't so close to the Oprah House. After about seven minute we pulled up in front of the place. After another fifteen minutes the owner finally showed up and let us in. Indeed the house was fantastic. It was huge, clean and had a nice Vietnamese feeling to it (i.e. a Buddha shrine in the attic). The problem was it was way off the beaten path. While there though the real estate agent told us about another property right near our present house. He said, "It is a much better place." So with that, we motorbiked over there...

House #4:

This house was awesome. House is actually the wrong word. It was a compound. It felt like an old mansion. There were chandeliers, multiple entrances, a rooftop basketball court, hardwood floors, marble staircases, a full stacked kitchen....and a Frenchman living in it. Unfortunately the Frenchman wasn't a butler, he was a tenant. We were told he'd be out at the end of the month but that would make our move just a tad bit trickier. After all I'm pretty sure Binh and Minh will be having the police escort us out on the 25th. God help us if we asked for six more days...especially when we were told today by San that, "Binh asked me to try very hard to get you out by the 20th." That's five days earlier than she told us we had.

House #5:

I found a property on-line which looked pretty ideal. Huyen called the agent and we made an appointment. We jumped on our bikes and headed over to the house...which was in a vaguely familiar old neighborhood...the neighborhood I was robbed in. It wasn't directly on the same street but it was connected through the alleys. It's actually a famous neighborhood because there is a shot down US fighter plane half floating in a moat in the middle of the alley. The potential house we were checking out overlooked the rusting US plane. Yeah, that probably isn't the best omen when looking for a new house. Oh, and the place was a dump. I mean it was disgusting.

House #6:

San was back in the picture. He called me this morning and said he had two more houses. We showed up at the first one and were escorted to the front door...where we were told to peak in through the glass. Apparently the power was out and they couldn't open the electronic door. All we could see was a couch. San's assistant said, "Very nice, right?" It wasn't a very nice couch so I could only assume the rest of the house wasn't too great either. They asked if we could come back to it later when the door MIGHT open. We passed.

House #7:

San had one more property to show us. We drove to the neighborhood and waited for the landlady to show up. After waiting about fifteen minutes this old lady finally rolled up sitting on the back of some dude's motorbike. Immediately something was obvious: she had no idea where she was. She was literally shielding her eyes while looking at different houses. Huyen explained to me that the landlady couldn't remember where her house was. We were told to wait on a street corner till she figured it out. She literally drove in circles around the neighborhood. Finally after sitting down at a local cafe and ordering drinks the old lady found the house. We gulped down our drinks and went to check out the place:

(The outside of House #7) San told us that the house was brand new. They opened the front gate and indeed it was brand new. It was so brand new that it wasn't even finished. The place was covered in a one inch layer of dust. There was no refrigerator...or furniture. It also had one of the creepiest things I've ever seen in the third floor bedroom:

(PICTURE: The only previous tenant)

Keep in mind, this house has not been lived in. I repeat, nobody has lived in this house. Nada. Not one person. Zilch. Yet there is this creepy freaking doll perched up against the wall on the third floor bedroom. Where did it come from? Who's doll is it? Why is it standing? Why did this picture come out blurry despite me using a flash? Man, I'm still creeped out.

And that's not all that was inside this house. When we got up to the fifth floor (yes, there were five floors) Huyen let out a scream. She saw this on the ground:

(PICTURE: Just your standard decomposing rat).

Ryan and I looked at the rat and I think the same feeling struck both of us, "This feels like home."

We decided to take the house...

It'll be ready in a week...

Hopefully the doll will be gone.