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Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Thai plumbing

Thought you might like to know what it is like when you need a plumber in Thailand. Actually I'm not sure there are many. Most people do their own plumbing. I don't know anyone who tells me they actually know a plumber. And it's much the same in other Asian countries.

The design of bathrooms here also means that the shower sprays water over the bathroom floor. There is no separate shower cubicle. Some newer places have one but in most bathrooms after you have a shower the floor of the whole bathroom is wet. If you don't mop it up you risk slipping when you come in again.

My shower started dripping last week. There is not much I can do about it because there is nowhere for me to turn the water off while I replace the washer. And the water was dripping and keeping the floor constantly wet. I spoke to the building manager and she said she'd get the fix-it man to attend to it. But he didn't come. Maybe I asked about four times. Eventually he came and changed the shower head. Of course it still dripped. With my limited Thai and his limited English it was difficult for me to explain to him that he needed to change the washer not the shower head. In any case, he should know that. He is the fix-it man after all. He just kept on saying 'mai pen lai' (it doesn't matter). This is a very common phrase in Thailand. He told me that all the rooms were the same and 'mai pen lai'.

I was not happy. I had visions of getting up for a pee in the middle of the night and slipping on the wet floor while half asleep. To me it did matter.

The building manager's daughter and I help each other practise our language each night so that night I explained the problem to Tee with the help of drawing a picture of a shower head and a tap and a washer. She seemed to understand and told her mother and the mother said he would come again the next day at midday.

I'd given up waiting for him at 1 pm and started getting ready to go out for lunch. Just as I was about to leave at 1.15 there was a knock at the door. This time he had a whole tap. I wasn't going to argue the point. I just wanted it fixed. It took him about 10 minutes and it was done. And since, no problem.

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