Sleepless in Hanoi
My apartment building is surrounded by buildings in construction. This is a source of huge frustration and many sleepless nights at the moment. Not only will these new buildings out the back of the house be blocking my view of the lake, but the construction practices in this country are totally ridiculous! Cranes and heavy machinery are brought in only in the middle of the night, as that is when the streets are free enough for such large equipment. So 2am is a busy time on these sights. And on any given day (including Sundays, my ONLY free day of the week), the banging starts easily at 6:30 a.m. I can even hear the building on the other side of the neighbors…which doesn’t say much for the thickness of the walls here!
What I can’t get over, though, is how poorly these places are built, the danger with which the workers surround themselves (welding with no mask, bamboo scaffolding, climbing up things with no harness, tools and trash strewn all over the site) and how little is learned from one project to the next. I’ve never seen people build a floor, and then tear it down because of a change of plans, or make a nice big opening for a window only to fill it in again and move the window to another part of a wall. It’s really pretty amazing. I’m thankful this is not an earthquake zone, as these places would crumble to bits in a heart beat! The construction is pretty shoddy. There is no framing, no insulation, no drywall, no stucco, just good old-fashioned brick-laying and sandy cement.
It all makes me so grateful that my house is at least pretty sound….sealed windows with screens, no leaks, no plumbing or electric problems…this building happens to be pretty decent. Not without imperfections, but it’s certainly qualified as a nice apartment.
No matter what, though, after seeing the manner in which these places are put up and finished off, I cannot at all believe that they can charge the rent that they do here in Hanoi. The average two-bedroom apartment is now about $1500 a month. And because we foreigners will pay this, the Vietnamese will continue to tear down old and beautiful villas to put up 4 – 5 story apartment buildings. With the location of my house, and the projects surrounding me, I think the two to my right and the two here in this photo may well be the last of the bunch in the neighborhood. But I won’t hold my breath!