Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chinese kitchens and the joy of plumbing. I just had to post a classic chinese moment that you will be sure to run into if you are teaching in China. A few posts back I showed you a different view of this kitchen, rather nice tiles, big with cabinettes. As you can see from this picture the plumbing is not built into the wall. China is modern up to a certain point. I was doing some marketing for my newest program, and went to the kitchen to get a coffee and I noticed water on the floor and on the countertop. Looking up I saw it was coming from the pipe in the picture, the one on the left near the top. I jumped up and looked at it and was pretty shocked. The 90 degree elbow was cracked on the backside, and had been glued back in and the connector at the straight piece was barely long enough to fit inside the coupling. Well needless to say it had to be fix like right now. I hustled out to the mini hardware store. There's one or two in every neighborhood, bought the pipe, the elbow, the coupling and the hacksaw, eighteen yuan, or about 2.12 US. Since I would have to cut the pipe right above the elbow, there would be a slight slant to the coupling. So I made my marks started cutting and hoped the resident above me would not be using her kitchen sink. Well no such luck. It was getting close to dinner so I couldn't have timed it worse. Several times I had to try and catch the outflow with the old pipe and try and aim it at the sink. Once it flowed out on top of my head. I did finally get the pieces dry enough to put on the adhesive, like abs, and got it connected and hoped it would dry properly. It all worked out, but that brings me to another oddity that you have. Since all the plumbing is in a line, you are constantly hearing the drainage. None have proper traps, ie goosenecks so the fumes of the drains will back up. If you have done any plumbing you know that is a good idea, if you don't want your bathroom to smell like a sewer. All drains are hooked up with flexible hoses into an open pipe which goes through the concrete and then connects to the main pipe in the apartment below. Like a v.

When my father saw this method he commented that it made a lot of sense and maybe that was the better way. Perhaps. It was much easier to work on then some of the plumbing nightmares in my barn apartment back home. I could understand my fathers feelings as he had spent many hours doing those kind of things at his place. That is part of what I call the half-assed way of doing things. Somebody just glued that gaping hole on the backside of the elbow with mass amounts of contact adhesive and and hoped it would work. This might have been the worker who plumbed it or the owner. The pipe is much thiner than what is in the west. You will definately have a few pools of water. I have had them in every apartment I have had and replaced something in every place I have lived in. All and all it's a beautiful kitchen with more electric than any other I have seen. It might have been an easier job, if my Chinese was better I could have asked the upstairs resident to wait 30 min. while I fixed it but it's not that good.

Just another day of fun in China.

Larry aka worldtour


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