For the past several months, the lean-to of Mr. Ho Van Tiu in Cu Bai hamlet in the central province of Quang Tri has become the ‘dating destination’ of local people. Why? Because there is a ‘special’ brick there.
Ms. Nhan, a teacher, has to place her phone on the brick, turn on the speaker and put her mouth close to the phone to talk with her son, who is studying in Da Lat.
Cu Bai is a mountainous village, which is nearly 150km from Dong Ha City of Quang Tri province. There are over 100 families in this quiet village. However, the house of Mr. Tiu is crowded and animated because it has become a rendezvous of villagers. Different from our imagination, this special place is simply a small lean-to, covered by several pieces of iron pig.
Understanding our concern, Mr. Ho Van Bai, a villager, explained: “This place is special because of that brick. In this region, only that brick has a cell phone wave. If you inch your cell phone out of that brick or lift it for several centimeters, the wave will disappear immediately.”
In this small room, over ten people were seating on two long chairs. On the table were over ten cell phones. All of them kept quiet, except for the one who seat near the brick wall. This man, with a very strange position, sitting on the edge of a table and press his mouth close to a brick on the wall. On that brick was his cell phone, with its speaker being turned on. The conversation between this man and the one in the phone was very clear.
Nearly five minutes passed. The talk ended. Another man was preparing to put his hand phone on the brick when a middle-aged man rushed into the room. “I have an urgent task. Please give up your turn to me!” he entreated.
After making the phone call, this man explained: “My house is in Cuoi village. I had to walk for half of a day to come here. There is no phone signal in my village. I returned home from the forest and was informed that my wife had been taken to the district hospital for giving birth. I was so worried, so I came here to make a phone call to the hospital…”
The ‘strange brick’ – the bridge to the world
Teacher Bui Van Phuoc, a teacher who has worked in Cu Bai for eight years, said that previously, to make a phone call, local people had to walk for several kilometers because phone signals could not reach the village.
Accidentally, on the afternoon of a day of three months ago, a young man visited Mr. Tiu. While he was leaning against the brick wall, his hand phone suddenly rang. He acclaimed.
Hearing the news, hundreds of people flocked to Tiu’s house. Teachers who come from the low land and border guards were very happy because from now on they could make contact with their families easily.
Since then whenever they have free time, teachers, border soldiers and local villagers flock to Tiu’s house. This lean-to has been called “dating place” or “rendezvous.”
Teacher Phuoc is a ‘regular customer’ at this ‘rendezvous.’ “My family is in the delta. My child has been ill for several days. I take advantage of free time to call my wife…” he said.
Ms. Nhan, another teacher, said that a lot of ‘accidents’ happened at this ‘dating place.’ The only way to enable cell phones to catch a signal, is putting them on that brick and turn on the speaker to talk. Once, the wife of a border guard who did not know about this asked her husband a “sensitive question.” As the speaker was turning on, other people who were waiting for their turn burst into laughing. The border guard blushed with shame.
“There is no secret here,” Ms. Nhan said. Nhan is the only female teacher in Cu Bai. Her two children are studying in Da Lat city so this lean-to is the only bridge between Nhan and her children.
Before the ‘special brick’ was discovered, Nhan could meet her children twice a year, during their summer holiday and Tet holiday.
Mr. Dinh Trong Bao, director of the local telecommunication bureau, said that this may be the result of radio wave reflection. Radio waves are hindered by mountains. Accidentally, they are reflected to one point so only that point has radio waves.
There is only one base transceiver station of Viettel in this mountainous region, so radio waves can cover only two out of eight villages there.
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