Readers' Submissions

Home Repairs – Thai Style



Born in the USA, with a paint brush in one hand and a shovel in the other, we pretty much do our own home repairs. I had spent many a Saturday being the “gopher” for my father, go for this, go for that, but learning how to do repairs around the house.

Fast forward, now in Bangkok, 2006.

I was off in China on a work assignment and upon chatting with my lovely TW (Thai Wife), she told me that the upstairs bathroom was under water. Not good news since I was 2,000 miles away. I asked her to contact the local fellow that we often hire to do small repairs around the ranch. She tried but he was busy and another fellow wanted 15,000 baht, which my Thai lady was not about to part with.

I finally made it back to BKK and found, yes, turn on the water and a steady stream of water was coming out of the shower faucet.

No problem, I would tackle the problem tomorrow, Saturday.

Saturday morning, tools in hand, I descend upon the shower faucet. I quickly had the faucet assembly removed and found a faulty rubber washer that was causing the leak. For about 5 baht, I could set things right.

Where’s that git that wanted 15,000 baht to make the repairs! Slacker!!!

The TW jumps on the scooter and off she goes for the replacement parts. I sit down to enjoy a morning coffee until she returns. Life is good!!!

Shortly she returns, with a new faucet assembly in hand. I ask, “why”? as I only needed the replacement rubber washer.

Now it starts, I get the “deer in the headlights” Thai blank look stare. Let me label that as DITH, deer in the headlights.

No biggie, 750 baht, a nice shiny chrome faucet assembly, I can live with that.

Now I go to attach the faucet to the pipes in the wall. Hmmmm, won’t fit. I compare the old one and the new one, new one is slightly smaller.

My dear…did you show the old faucet to the man at the shop? Head shaking to indicate, yes. My dear…do you see that the new one is smaller than the old one? Now I get the DINT look. See, holding them next to each other to show the difference…still getting the DINT. Wait a bit…now she says, “man says it will fit”. OK, do you see how small this one is? “Man says it will fit”. OK, my lovely, is the new one the same size as the old one? “Man says it will fit”.

Hmmmm, let’s see, 8:30 AM, too early to start with the Jim Beam, nahhhh, like Jimmy Buffet says, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”!

OK, mai ren rai (no problem) I will jump on the scooter and make the exchange. Ohhhh, your brother, the useless one that is 38 years old and has never worked a day in his life, has “borrowed” the scooter and will be back in 20 minutes. OK, I can have another cup of coffee. Two hours later, the scooter shows up, no gas in it, of course <snarl, snarl>. Off on the scooter and make the exchange, all is well.

Now to replace those chrome cover plates with some shiny new ones. They should unscrew or fall right off….NOT!!! The rocket scientist that did the plumbing in the house thought it a good idea to embed all the plumbing in 10 kg of concrete, grrrrr. Hammer, hammer, chisel, chisel, away! Starts to look like a bombed out area with scrap metal and concrete flying all over.

OK, getting back on track.

Chrome cover plates about ½” too short. Not to worry, I have a tube of silicon sealer and I will make this work. Faucets screwed on, water on no leaks, life is good again…except that shower hose now leaks.

Scooter> shop> back to the ranch and a quick fix, we now really have no leaks!

Ohhh, the drain was leaking but we have a replacement. I can do this. Simple, chrome grate, rubber washer, screws into the drain…uhhhh, my dear…do you see how small the old screw is and how big the new screw is? DINT. Wait. DINT. Now I do my DINT impression, which I am getting quite good at doing. No response, OK I know the drill.
Scooter> shop…how do I say “tap” in Thai? New one for me. I need a tap to clean out and open up the threaded part in the drain. First shop, lots of DINT. Second shop, DINT.
OK, not making progress. Back to the ranch, a quick search on the internet and I print out a picture of a tap. Back to the second shop, ahhhh, they understand, but don’t have. They tell me of a third shop close by.

Third shop>picture>they have! By the way, I ask, how to say “tap” in Thai? Of course, they say, “tap”. Now I am doing my DINT.

Back to the ranch, run the tap thru the drain threads, assemble the drain and DONE!

It is only 4:30 PM and Singha time. The weekend warrior has conquered again!

Stickman's thoughts:

One of the thins I really like about Thailand is the availability of affordable labour for this sort of thing.