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Apr 14, 2024 / 15:36

Hanoi street where dead appliances come back to life

Tran Quy Cap Street has long been known to Hanoi residents as a meeting place for broken appliances. The repairers on this street are considered "magicians" whose magic touch brings the family's endearing gadgets back to life.

Tran Quy Cap Street in Hanoi's Dong Da District has a dozen repair and maintenance shops for household appliances. Some specialize in all kinds of pumps, others in rice mills and meat grinders, and so on. Most of these shops have some number of loyal clients.

 Tran Quy Cap Street in Hanoi's Dong Da District is tiny but always busy. Photos: Vu Toan/Dan Tri

Trinh Minh Tu, a resident of Dong Da District, brought two blenders with short circuits to the street. "Most of the repairmen here are experienced in fixing household appliances. People often joke that they can fix anything in the house as if by magic," he said.

Not only people living in the neighborhood but also people from other areas visit the street for the service. As a result, these workers have little time to laze around.

"Depending on the season, there are certain items that need to be repaired. Water heaters and electric kettles in winter, air conditioners - hot and cold water dispensers in summer, and rice cookers, induction cookers, or ultra-fast cookers all year round. The work may appear simple, but we have to be meticulous. Each workshop has a lead mechanic who specializes in repairing complex parts. "The rest do simple jobs like scrubbing and polishing," explains one worker here.

 The street is home to many talented home appliance repairmen in Hanoi.

As well as repairing home appliances, they also buy old, broken ones before repairing and reselling them, according to the owners of these shops. Recently, second-hand air purifiers, tumble dryers and washing machines have been selling well as the weather in Hanoi has been humid.

"The work we do is endless throughout the year. Most of the things that break down are short circuits or worn buttons. Problems like that require replacing the components. Many customers who do not want to have them repaired bring them here and sell them to us at prices a little higher than scrap metal. Then I repair, polish, and resell them," explained another repair business owner on Tran Quy Cap Street.

Most of the repairmen here are men, but there are a few women in charge of sales and taking orders. But there is also a woman who sits meticulously brushing black stains off the surface of a used water heater. After being scrubbed and polished, the item looks as good as new.

 Foreign visitors to Hanoi are amazed by the talent of the amateur mechanics who work on the streets of Hanoi.

Nguyen Thi Duoc has been repairing appliances on Tran Quy Cap Street for 30 years. "At first, my body always ached. However, after doing it for a long time, I got used to it and the work became routine," she said.

"Anything can be fixed here, but it is mainly water heaters and rice cookers that are repaired. When I retired, I immediately started working here. Since I've been doing this job for almost 30 years, there's no type of household appliance I haven't repaired. Many people come here to sell old and broken things. After replacing parts and repainting, we resell them for a quarter of the price of new ones," the veteran adds.

Interested in these repair shops in Hanoi, Andrey - a street photographer from Portugal - visited Tran Quy Cap Street.  "This street has a lot of material for photography. The stories of the repairmen here are fascinating. Their work reflects the pace of life in Hanoi. This street also reminds me of the sights I saw in India," said Andrey.

Dozens of damaged appliance repair shops line this tiny street in downtown Hanoi.  

Tran Quy Cap Street is a small street adjacent to Hanoi Railway Station, only about 300 meters from the city center. It is located in Van Mieu and Van Chuong wards, Dong Da district, and is 700 meters long and 5-8 meters wide. This is also the location of the North Gate of the railway station, where trains depart for the northern provinces of the country. Surrounding the street are a number of main roads, such as Le Duan, Kham Thien, Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Khuyen, and Quoc Tu Giam.

Tran Quy Cap Street is usually bustling with business activities. Household appliances, clothes, backpacks, and wallets are the main businesses here. There are also motels, hotels, and restaurants that cater to train passengers. At the end of the street, near Trung Tien Alley, there are a number of offices and factories.