Only In Asia (OIA)

Published on May 29th, 2013


Only In Asia: Eco-friendly Techno Solutions


In Vietnam, the techno geeks kindly make house-calls!

An otherwise seemingly ho-hum tale about replacing a printer toner cartridge – normally nothing to write home about (much less devote a entire TL post to) but…

“Only in Asia” would such a mundane task take on the glitz and glitter of a most amazing event that demonstrates the incredible ingenuity of the dear Vietnamese.

But let me step back a moment to last March when my dear landlady Mai – knowing that I had just started teaching again and was in dire need of a printer to churn out fun ‘n games for my EFL students – secretly decided to surprise me with a somewhat early birthday present.  Long story short?  She coincidentally had my passport info (a requirement for foreigners staying anywhere in Vietnam) and thus… knew that my birthday was coming up in but a week.  So…

That sweet Vietnamese lass ordered a brand new laser printer and had it delivered on “Women’s Day” a few days before my birthday!  Needless to say, I was thrilled and incredibly touched by both her thoughtfulness and her generosity. And indeed, the printer has been serving me exceedingly well these past months until…

Until yesterday, when the cartridge suddenly ran out of toner.  Not surprisingly, as I’d been printing with it quite exhaustively.  But still – suddenly I’m in desperate need of a new Canon Laser Shot LBP 6000 toner cartridge, without a clue where I might buy one.

So I mention it to Mai and… we hop on her motorbike and head up to Dalat center to the store she bought the printer from.  We ask about cartridges to fit it and…

A flurry of Vietnamese ensues between Mai and the sales folk at the printer shop.  After about 10 full minutes of non-stop gibberish (from my point of view), Mai interprets (in her lovable mix of Vietnamese-French-halting English) to say that, yes – they indeed have what I need, and we should go home and wait for them to deliver the cartridge.  Fine says I, but…

Now I’ve never owned a laser printer before, but I can tell you that over the years I’ve jolly-well replaced plenty of cartridges in my many-flavored ink-jet printers.  So I figure – how hard could it be to replace a laser toner cartridge, yes?  So I shake my head and mime that there’s no need for them to come all the way out to my apartment to install it – I can do it myself.

Nope.  Neither Mai nor the half-dozen shop folk that were staring at me in disbelief, were having any of that.  I was instead kindly ordered to hop on the back of a shop lad’s motorbike – and guide him home so he could install it personally.  Meanwhile Mai tells me that she has some more shopping to do and will meet me back at my place, and – oh, btw – it will cost “120,000” dong.  Right, a grand total of $6 – for not only the cartridge, but a personal house-call to install it.

So off we go, the shop lad and I, back to L’Auberge Ami where he proceeds to…

Well, as you can see from the pics below – not to simply replace the entire cartridge (as would be the case back in the States – for the princely sum of a mere $70+ odd dollars).  But rather, the lad spent a goodly half hour – taking the entire cartridge apart, and hand-filling it with finely powdered laser toner!

What can I say?  Only in Asia!   Utterly brilliant and far more economical.  And furthermore, ever so much more environmentally friendly not to be filling landfills with a bazillion plastic toner cartridges, yes?


A tad messy – but oh so much more economical and eco-friendly.

About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

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