The Bathroom Crisis

Sunday | August 19th, 2012

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Right after I got back from Cheongju, I wanted to see the progress on the house. I knew that they’d dug up much around the backside and in front of the bedroom to put the pipes in for a proper in-the-house toilet. On Wednesday when I brought TD and POD over, the digging phase hadn’t yet started and I’d since heard from Meow that her food delivery accidentally went to the hanok where the delivery guy called up confused, saying, “There is only dirt here.”

What greeted me befuddled my mind. The toilet, sink, and drainage pipes had been put in and the room filled with a lot of cement. In the far end of the bathroom, my head was uncomfortably close to the ceiling. We had requested a sunflower shower head and told it was too expensive (like that would make us change our minds). Meow then found one on the internet for a reasonable price and the renovation guy said it wouldn’t be an issue to install one.

But given the amount of cement they used and my head hitting the ceiling, by the time they got around to putting in our shower head, I would only be able to wash my nipples with it. I was pissed. The stupidity of a bathroom going from 2.4 meters of height to about 1.9 just blew me away. I called Meow; Meow called our guy.

What ensued was an insane discussion with our guy insisting that this was the way and me pointing out that I’m rather short compared to most of my friends (POD is 191cm). The another long talk about drainage, how the toilet pipe has to be at a slight angle for the whole length so the poo goes out and doesn’t get stuck, and my favorite: how we should just suck it up and Korean people don’t get bothered by this kind of thing.

They had also tore out and filled with cement the little door in the corner of the bathroom (above left) that led to the secret passage behind the house. (This meant that I needed to also go out and dig through the piles to salvage that nice wood to use in another project). Being the nice renovators they are, they took it upon themselves to tear out the extra water faucet in the pantry without asking (above middle) and patch it up with more cement! Then they used more cement to fill in around the pantry/laundry room door (very nice, happy with that one) and filled in the space about the back wall (above right) which was just flimsy plywood (extremely happy with that choice).

The rest of the cementing seemed okay. The crawl space/secret passage/side yard area was hammered, dug up, poo pipe laid (at a slight angle), covered up, and cemented over without issue. It didn’t need to be covered with 20cm either. It meets at the same level as before (above left). The funny step in the boiler room is filled in with cement (above middle), this is probably better for the dogs as they will sleep and eat in this space —I’ll call this a win, too. Outside, we have a new junction box for our new poo pipe (above right). The way things work in Korea is to have these plastic boxes every few lengths or so (this one marks the third on our property alone) where there is a vertical tube and a break in the pipes. Yes, they are sealed up massively and yes, they totally reek of poo. And no, water pressure does not exist in Korea, hence all this fine angling of pipes and low-tech junction boxes (which I will photograph later on for the non-believers).

At least the boiler room door was sporting a real dog-passable space. So the experience was not a total exercise is idiocracy.

As things stand now, the renovator is annoyed that we don’t like our midget-primed bathroom and we’ve demanded that everything be dug up (including the fine stiffening cement with my Fluevog prints all over it) and things to be done again. We thought we would get a bathtub later (and save a few pennies) but since it came up in our discussions of why, why, other than really tall friends, do we need a high bathroom, that this Westerner wanted to be able to stand up and shower under his fancy-schpantsy sunflower shower head without banging his head each morning. Not only are we being difficult demanding that things not be fucked up constantly, now we want a bathtub too—apparently bathtubs are expensive.

Dig deeper is the name of this game and nobody will get paid until the game is over.

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