Sunday has become our day of repose, where we recharge the batteries for another assault on the working week. Recently however, our peace has been disturbed by some rather enthusiastic builders who seem intent on breaking through the wall adjoining us…it began about a month ago, with the gentle tap, tap, tap on the wall which we naively put down to somebody putting shelves up, or attempting to hang a picture or curtain rail.
It soon escalated into what sounded like the entire Murphy’s construction fleet engaged in major demolition work. The tapping had turned modern with a pneumatic drill doing it’s worst from 7.30am to 9pm everyday. The drilling and tapping is now accompanied by the sound of rubble falling from the walls, down what sounds like a shaft between the our building and the construction site.
However, last Sunday was a bit different, as the major building work turned into a minor irritant compared to our new internal water feature.
Rain storms are a fact of life in Vietnam. It is after all a tropical country, with wet season (summer) and dry season (winter), but what you soon realise it that these ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ descriptions aren’t entirely foolproof.
Winter brought us continual cloud, mist, drizzle, condensation, and our own interior weather system (see the foggy dew); while summer has brought a huge drought to the north of Vietnam (so much so that the reservoirs have now almost reached the official ‘dead’ level, which means that it’s impossible to power the water turbines – leading to power cuts on a random basis throughout Hanoi).
The now the very dry ‘wet’ season, still possesses the ability to surprise.
As we relaxed on a muggy Sunday afternoon, we realised that a storm had moved over Hanoi…after the recent ‘Great Storm’ that had brought down trees and had flooded large parts of Hanoi we thought there wasn’t too much to worry about. It certainly was raining, and eventually the rolling roar of thunder could be heard, followed by the neon blink of lightning, but we were home, what could possibly go wrong?
Having seen some amazing storms in Cuba we peered out onto the courtyard outside our house, watching as the landlady’s house next door lost the battle to contain the rainwater building up in it’s guttering, cascading down the side of the house, and doing a first rate impression of a waterfall. I shuddered as I recalled being stood underneath the impromptu waterfall only a few weeks ago as I struggled to open the gate and bring the bike in during the Great Storm. We smiled congratulating ourselves at being tucked away safely this time…then the TV channels started failing, their digitised pictures pixelating, freezing, then disappearing altogether.
At that point the house went quiet and the noise of the water cascading over the building could be heard…as could a new sound, a dribbling, trickling sound, I turned from the computer screen and saw a dribble of water drop from the floor above. My first thought was that the sink had flooded, so I dashed up stairs only to find myself struggling to keep my balance as the tiled floor had a slippery top surface of water. I peered into the bathroom – no overflowing sink or shower there, and then I realised the water was still dropping from above. I ran up the stairs, now acting as a series of stepped waterfalls in their own right. The top floor which we use as a storage space and drying room was completely soaked, flipping open the window I looked out onto the roof terrace. Where once there had been a terracotta tiled floor there now stood a paddling pool, about a foot deep! Water was lapping over the doorstep and the guttering had become completely choked. There was only one way to stop our new interior water feature, and that was to remove the supply now amassing on the roof. I stood next to the balcony, with the rain still bucketing down and attempted to kick the water off the roof. After fifteen minutes of me kicking, and Felicity bailing, the water level eventually dropped enough for us not to worry about it being high enough to cross the threshold. Thankfully the electricity hadn’t cut off and we could dry the house out using fans. Our newly washed and now soaked clothes were popped into the washing machine and soon all was back to normal. It could have been a lot worse, as none of our electrical equipment had managed to get soaked.
The pool was caused by the unique construction feature used on only our part of the roof. The three terraced houses that comprise our block all share the same guttering, all of which empty out onto our part of the roof. In order to ensure that we are the only part of the roof that gets flooded, our part of the terrace is bricked in causing it to form a paddling pool, with only a tiny overflow to let the water drain out! It looks like we will have to speak to the landlady about some minor construction work for future storms. In particular, it will be a complete disaster if we happen to be out if (when) another storm happens again.