Here I was on tour pouting over a very sore toe due to the awkward way the Minsk motorcycle is configured when a bee collided with my arm and stung me. This is not an unusual occurrence as when touring coffee plantations and orchards where there is a lot of pollination going on, it is an occupational hazard. This bee however, was different than any I have encountered before. Like all the other stings, I pulled the stinger out quickly to prevent the venom being pumped in and ended with the typical red welt an hour after. The next morning I woke up to a throbbingly painful entire forearm. My arm had swollen to the point of the skin being stretched to the limit and the result was a fiery red and itchy bloated appendage with an elbow that looked like a balloon half filled with jelly. After the trip was over, I was scolded by a Vietnamese doctor that such a sting can cause serious liver damage and next time, seek a hospital. Luckily, my body was able to fight the alien protein and I am almost back to normal. Lesson learned I guess. Now to the continued saga of the house renovations……
When looking at the basic layout and raw construction, it is almost impossible to see things that might an inch or even a foot out of place and everything looked ok for the rear apartment. I assumed the lesson would have been learned from the errors in the Kitchen, but I was an idiot for thinking that way. Again the small apartment was to be to North American standards and accordance with my design. I was hired for a tour and prior to departure I again got assurances things would be done correctly. Since my nephew (and foreman) would be living in the apartment, he rushed to finish it as soon as possible making decisions on his own rather than confirm with me and this part of the house is now a place I am afraid to enter without becoming angry or sorely disappointed. Firstly the bathroom was built 20 cm smaller than planned and in Typical Vietnamese style, you now have to walk through the shower to get to the endlessly wet floor where the toilet sits. All power receptacles are the same height as the light switches making it impossible to plug in anything without a cord
dangling. Rather than using a decorative trim or paint as a floor board, left over pieces of ceramic floor tile were used making a hodge podge messy look in my opinion. Instead of going with the color scheme of the rest of the house, a black countertop was installed, but probably the biggest let down is that a decision was made to not run hot water pipes. Now the kitchen has only cold water and an electric heater had to be installed for the shower. Some of the other things I was able to fix (though it still cost me money in the end) such as having the bathroom vented outside instead of into the kitchen like they decided, and installing the sink at counter height instead of having it 6 cm lower. Lastly, I had a big drain that was installed in a sharp edged 2 cm deep box that was next to the
door entrance plugged and a ceramic tile placed over is to a person would not trip and kill themselves walking into the apartment. Ugh!! I get miffed just thinking about it….I know…. I know….. some of you are probably chuckling or even laughing at this point. Expats that live here probably shakes an understanding head. Even today, I was asked where to put the walls of a shower. I said exactly where the blueprint I gave you says as I cannot remember the exact distances that I calculated before……. Guess what? The plans were disregarded the day after it was given to them. Some of the other issues I am still dealing with are: 3 sets of staircases where the stairs are not all the same height. I have had 1 totally rebuilt and it is a bit better, the second still has not been adjusted and the
3rdjust built 2 days ago after having then all cut narrower because they decided it would be better being larger than I wanted, not only are the stairs 3 different heights, but now has a wide section that I dislike, and my narrower section where they now agree was the better decision. All of their assumptions and perhaps thinking that I am stupid and the foreign method of quality design is not the Vietnamese way and it has probably added 10 or 20% to my costs because of having to do jobs over again. There were also issues such as wrong color paint being used, wall switched and panels not being level. Dangerous uneven surfaces that had to be smoothed out, but probably the biggest issue that you would think they would have learnt from was: The parking garage foundation and floor in the back was built 1 foot above the yard surface forcing a steep ramp a person would have to drive up. The foundation was laid and the floor filled. And there was no drain that I had planned for. When I asked why was it high,
I was told to keep the water out….. Huh? But I had a low corner planned with a drain. Oh yea…… It was installed in the apartment where I had it covered with a floor tile. I could not let this one go…. It had to be broken up, the foundation relaid and the floor done again with the drain in the corner as I originally planned. After finished, the all stood in awe of what a clever design it was to have a garage at almost ground level with a way for the water to drain away…….. Sheesh!!
3 or so more weeks until completion……. Hmmm…..I have survived the frustration so far. We will see. I will probably have to be there in order for all the light fixtures not to be installed wrong side up.