How buying windows and choosing a spirit house lead to some frustrating Tuesday moments.

A couple of weeks ago I went to some timber shops outside the city with my mother in-law to order some new windows for the house. The order was pretty simply. I wanted one quad folding window at 2.0m wide x x 1.50m high and two normal windows at 1.20m wide x 1.50m high. No security bars ( much to my mother’s and the window makers absolute horror ” BUT WE ALWAYS MAKE THE WINDOWS LOOK LIKE JAIL CELLS !?” , no locks as I explained I would buy good quality sliding locks and return with them and no handles as I explained I would buy them too. Sure enough, several days later I went back out to the shop with some slide locks i had sourced and I explained exactly where I wanted them, even going so far as to mark them on the frames.

Yesterday  was the Queen’s birthday Public Holiday and so I called Paul early and arranged for a car swap so I could use his ute. However, I have lived here long enough to know that it pays to check and double check things as they are progressing. I decided it would be prudent to take a quick run out to the window shop to make sure the project was complete and to my satisfaction. On arrival, I am taken out the back and there stand my windows. All two of them. “Where is the third window ?” Blank stares. And then ….slowly….the lights go on. ” Oh yes he he ho ho you wanted two small ones didn’t you !”. Fuck me dead – did you even read the invoice YOU wrote out for ME ? This actually was not a big problem as I wanted to change the height slightly. Then, I inspect the windows they have made and whilst the big quad fold one is ok, the small one has an anomolie. “Why have you placed the bolt locks on the outside of the window. I showed you exaclty where i wanted them ? ” More blank stares and general dumb shittery. i explained to them that if a robber wanted to get in……he now has complete access to the locks, rendering them innefectual and….useless. “oh yes we see he he ho ho “. Not only that, but the hinges they had used took 6 scres each to secure them and on most of them they had only used 4, making the hinges a ” fix this will you “. So herein with the order being a window short, the locks being on the outside of ONE of the windows and the hinges being installed half arsed lies the beginning of frustrations for me. 

KHMERS RARELY IF EVER “MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE”. The concept of carefully considering things through first, double checking before commencement and then checking as you go is almost alien to them. They will storm through a project and get to the end  of it before they realise there is a fuck up – if indeed they realise there is a fuck up at all. If it is a small fuck up they won’t even bother to correct it  ” she’ll be right mate ! “.  


                                            Minor Khmer fuck up

Thank Buddha I went out there or I would have driven my car into the city, swapped it out , arrived out at the shop with Paul’s ute only to have had to have turned around empty handed and have to swap out the cars again. I pack a few things into the car and head over to mum’s house for lunch ( Leakhana and the kids have stayed over there since the weekend ) and on arrival I explain to my wife and my mother what happened. We then call the window maker to ensure they understand what we actually now need and what follows is a three stooges conversation with me trying to triple confirm with Leakhana who in turn tries to triple confirm with the retarded shop owner and round and round we go. The owner seems intent on finishing the order as per the original specifications however I explain that as he has forgotten one window I want to change the final specs of this window and as he hasn’t started it, this should be no issue. Apparently he just cant get the idea into his head. ” So now you want 6 windows ?”   Everyone ends up yelling at each other and the frustrations continue. Jesus H Titty Fucking Christ. How hard can it be to change an order ? In the end everything is sorted. I think. Actually…….I now have no idea how many windows we are buying or what size they will be.

After all that I need to vent some energy so Danny and I …..wait for it…. MOVE SOME DIRT AROUND ! Actually, we move a pile of broken bricks and rubble to the front of the house to create a proper driveway base. I head to the hardware shop and buy some 60mm pipe to create a sub drain with and we spend the next couple of hours hauling wheel barrows. Rain is coming so it is steamy as hell and we sweat like Egyptian slave drivers. However the result is good and I can now get the Isuzu up onto the block without too much fuss.

After a lovely roast chicken lunch I want to do something nice for Mum as it is a) The Queen’s birthday and b ) Mum’s birthday ! I know mum is quite spiritual and no Khmer house is complete without a spirit house in the front garden for making offerings to Buddha so Mum, Leakhana, Grace and I head to the shop that makes the Spirit houses and mum picks out a whopper. I know this thrills her to bits and the next step is we have to get some guy to come over and tell us the exact spot to place it for the most optimum luck so Mum heads off into places unknown and returns with some random old dude. He arives with a tape measure and casts and eye over the house and chats to mum. Baring in mind the house has a lovely garden with many PRIME spots ( I would have thought ) for the placement of such an important item……where do you think this silly old fart chose ?

Under the stairs.

Yes……under the stairs.


As Mum blindly accepts this is where the spirit house should go without question or thought, I quietly point out that the item is rather tall and wide and most likely it will jut out into the driveway where the cars are always coming and going and it will also be rather cramped under the stairs. i question whether it will be aesthetically pleasing and I then simply ask the old dude ” is there an alternative location ?” and indicate broadly the rest of the huge front yard . Without hesitation he says ‘ oh absolutely…you could put it under the mango tree right here at the front !” . Imagine my bloody surprise. The new spot is perfectly located in a shady spot with easy access where we will be able to see the spirit house from most places where we sit and eat etc . Mum is of course thrilled but it leaves me wondering why she couldn’t have asked the question about location herself !  Here is another frustrating thing about Cambodia. The Khmers do not like to question or challenge    “authority” as it is far easier to defer to “experience” .  Just think for yourselves occasionally ok !

As much as I am enjoying the renovation process….there are some days when I just want to screeeeeeeeeeeeeam.


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2 Responses to How buying windows and choosing a spirit house lead to some frustrating Tuesday moments.

  1. Sarah Garnett says:

    Looks fantastic!

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