13 November, 2018

Insane? or Effecient?

I haven't been around much lately. I've gotten lazy.

Well, lazy in some areas. I spend ample time on my computer, and I'm doing well in my NaNoWriMo word count. But this isn't about that.

I've gotten so lazy, yesterday I didn't even do my morning yoga. I guess that was the final straw for my psyche. Finally last night, I plugged in my phone downstairs in the living room, so that I HAD to get out of bed right away in the morning. But this isn't about that.

They've been working on the drainage ditch all down our street for a while now. Presumably ahead of the rains. (Mind you, we're in a drought, and the rainy season should have started by now.)

This is about that.

On Thursday, they reached us. Suddenly we had a trench about a meter and half deep and a meter across in front of our gate.
The view from the front balcony.

Fortunately, our front yard is attached by a small gate to our landlord next door, so while their front gate was unlocked, we could come and go that way. I don't think we left home that first day, though.

SIDEBAR: That first day, they were jack-hammering away the pavement, and Brett went out around lunchtime when no one was working, just to see what was going on. One of the workmen saw him and came over. They exchanged some charades and suddenly the dude picked back up his jackhammer and kept working. OOPS! Vietnamese typically take about 2 hours at lunchtime to include a rest time out of the heat. Like a siesta. We wondered if somehow he misunderstood Brett's curiosity and started working because of it.

It was hot. Super hot with that noon sun beating down on the poor guy who should have been resting with his colleagues. I said I felt like we should offer him a beer, but who knew if that was appropriate? So Brett took out a cold bottle of water and a cold beer to offer. The guy took the beer and now we're all buddies.

As we had seen happen at every other home and business along the street, they placed some boards across the ditch so we could come and go.
Not my feet.

I have vertigo, so this was a wobbly walk for me, but I made it! We came and went to the market, to the corner stores, to supper at night, and I never once fell into the concrete that had been poured into the trench.

It was quite intriguing to watch the step-by-step. They stored a pile of shaped rebar just inside our gate, and the next day the rebar went into the trench. That night we noticed bags of concrete inside our gate. The next day the new trench was formed and squared off. Finally as of yesterday, we have a ramp up over the now-deeper drainage trench and back down the other side.

Look how nice! I think the boards are now removed and today we might take the bike out and cross town for lunch.

Now, I worked for a civil engineering firm in the States before moving to Communist Asia. In China, we repeatedly observed small shops reduced to rubble on one day, and a new business built and operating a week later. No notice. People don't have a choice. Same with roads and walkways. The government decides something is to be done and it's done. It's not always nice for the people involved who lose business or have to move and start over.

I don't know of things like that happening here, but I am struck by the contrast. In the civil engineering world in the US there is often public inquiry, and even beyond that, there are many stages to road work - flaggers and roadway roped off a certain distance before and after the construction, traffic diverted...

Here, they just start work. The traffic is diverted by the piles of dirt in the road from the uprooted vegetation and the mini-concrete mixer. They place one sign at each end of the area they are working, but drivers are expected to be smart and alert to avoid the workers and their motor scooters and the piles of equipment. It's a bit inconvenient, but man, in less than week, they are out of our hair!


  1. Replies
    1. It was fun. I felt a bit like a voyeur, though. I never wanted to be obviously watching, because then they stop and wave, and I never know if they want something or are trying to say something.

  2. Oh wow. No notice? You probably could write a book (or two) about how different it is to live in Asia.

    1. Well, we could see the work progressing along our side of the street for weeks before, so it wasn't 100% out of the blue. If they told each house that they'd be working there on XX days, then what if the project was ahead or behind? I don't mind flexibility. It's not like we have set schedules that we have to be places.

  3. It just tickles me endlessly that Brett offered the worker a bottle of water and a beer and the worker took the beer. I'd like to do that here but you never see someone working solo and I'd be passing around a lot of beers.

    1. Yeah, we definitely didn't want to be "the beer house" but a couple days before, when they were down the street, I was walking back from our corner grocery with a case of beer on my shoulder and got some smiles and waves from the workers, so they kind of know anyway.

  4. It's interesting seeing how other countries approach repairs and how different it is to the bureaucracy that more "advanced" countries now seem to be mired in. Roadworks can take months in Australia! It took 2 months to update a cycle path near a bridge in our suburb - with traffic diversions and reduced speed limits - nearly drove us crazy!

    1. We noticed in Turkey that road construction - however long it takes - is at least blocked off at the point of construction and not for miles on both sides of it!

  5. Hi I live in asia too and yes the government decides things are going to get dug up / hacked out / re-done and it's done. At best we get a little notice stuck to our lift landing at the ground floor saying they apologise for any inconvenience caused.

    1. In Beijing, I found the tiled sidewalks were a great idea! When a sidewalk needed repair, they might tear up the old sidewalk, but then a pile of tiles was placed nearby - no traffic blockages!


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.