31 October 2009

Long Hot Days

Well, the last two days have been very long, hot and frustrating. Dealing with Khmer tradespeople is fraught with traps, especially for foreigners who don't speak the language or fully understand the culture. By last night I was almost ready to pack up and return to Australia. Almost but not quite.

After have no power downstairs all night Thursday, I got up on Friday morning, and switched the circuit breaker on again downstairs (after it had been out all night) and 20 minutes later it was off again. Then got another 20 minutes out of it, and then we actually got about 3 and a half hours. Long enough for the fridge to cool down and the helper to do the ironing (as well as a heap of other things). She cooked our dinner and put it in the fridge. 10 minutes after she left, the power went off again, and I couldn't get it to stay on.

At 9am the washing machine repair man came, and ended up taking away a large part of the machine, promising to return at 10am Saturday morning (which he did).

After sending 5 text messages to the landlord, updating him on the electricity situation I finally phoned him, and he said someone should have been there. Not long after that a girl turned up, who I assumed was with the guys doing the roof, and made her stay either outside or up with the guys on the roof. (First mistake - never assume anything). A short while after that, another guy on a moto turned up, completed with wife, and two small children. Did not introduce himself, but indicated that they were all coming into the house. When I said no to that, not knowing it was the electrician, they departed, not to be seen again. Ooops. 2nd and very bad mistake! Even if I had known who he was, I still would not have wanted the whole family in the house.

When I rang the landlord to find out why the electrician still hadn't come, that was when I discovered my mistake. I apologised for upsetting them but explained why I had done it, and asked for something to be done. I apologised again the next morning when the landlord turned up at the house about 10.30am, but the damage was done. His wife is now very angry that I would not let a family of people I didn't know and could not communicate with into my house, and is now refusing to pay for an electrician to come and do the work. I'm still waiting. Meanwhile the power has been off downstairs for over 48 hours, and so anything in the freezer that I couldn't move upstairs is now going to have to be thrown out.

I spoke at length with the landlord, and he was understanding and sympathetic, but his wife is still being angry and unreasonable. I asked him how she would feel in my situation, and he agreed that she would not like it. He's trying again to get someone to come, but I'm really frustrated. I'm very close to simply packing up and moving out, except that I like the house and the location, and it would not just affect me.

So where to now? Who knows. I'm still waiting for the landlord to contact me, but it's looking very much like I'm going to have no power downstairs again tonight, and tomorrow is Sunday, and I have plans for the afternoon at any rate, so I'm not sure what's going to happen.

Meanwhile, what's happening on the roof? Actually, today I suspect there is very little happening. They cut the generator at about 11am, and haven't restarted it. They did come and measure for the sheeting, and now the landlord is talking about just putting chainwire around the roof space, so I have no idea what's going to happen and when it is going to happen. Here's a photo I took last night after everyone had left for the day. The pile of rubbish on the floor on the right is the old roof. Under all the bars are the old rusted out sheets of roofing iron. Things are definitely done diffently here. In Australia, they would measure it up, and order all the materials, completely remove the old structure, and then, when all the materials are ready, they would come and do the new installation (at least I'm fairly sure that's what would happen). Not here. They day they started the job, they measured up. Then disappeared for about 4 hours. Then they arrived and starting hauling the frame up to the roof. Then they started both removing the old and installing the new. Then today they actually came and measured for the roof sheeting, and obviously for the chain wire to go around the outside!

Why do I say they measured for the chain wire? I say it because a moto with trailer just delivered another pile of one inch square galvanized metal, and two huge rolls of 2" chain wire fencing. How they are going to get it up to the roof, I have no idea! The metal framing is easy enough. They are passing that up, one piece at a time, from a guy on the ground to a guy on the next door neighbour's flat roof (about 10 feet above the ground), and then up to another guy on my roof. The pieces are probably about 7m long, so that's not too difficult, but the chain wire is a different matter. They seemed to be struggling to slide it inside the gate from where it was delivered on the road. It is rolls about 40cm in diameter, and about 2m long, so I guess I'd better go and get the camera out for this one! Since it's only 4pm, I imagine they will make a start at installing it this afternoon, although I could be wrong.

On top of all that, the cold the children have been passing around has caught up with me now that I've slowed down for the holidays, so I'm sneezing and blowing my nose with unpleasant frequency. OK. I'll stop moaning, and go and see if I can get some good photos to add to tomorrow's post!


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