Given the frantic pace of construction in so many parts of the world, but especially South East Asia, it was a surprise to find work still hadn’t been finished on a new hotel complex on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok - four years after we’d been disturbed by its beginning.
This, on a prime bit of land just down from the famous temple Wat Arun and other cultural attractions.
Here's how it looked back in 2014...
This is where they were to build a tower...
But that tower still needs finishing off, in 2018...
This delay in completion is doubtless a frustration to the owners of this new complex. And it certainly is to neighbouring hotels. They are losing money through the disturbance - and have no upside to look forward to when the work is finished.
There's plenty of evidence that more building remains to be started, too...
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But consider this thought from a Thai architect called Jen that we met in Yangshuo, Southern China…
“Chinese builders are too quick, man…!”
Jen’s been picking up lucrative contracts developing new hotels for the tourists - foreign and local - who are exploring more and more of China.
“…The problem with that is that I don’t have time to finesse my plans. And if my clients want to change their minds, you have to start tearing down walls!”
Clients changing their minds is not much news to anyone. You’d think the paymasters would be sure of what they wanted before they started handing over money. But it doesn’t work out that way.
“Plus they go all kitsch on me. They start by asking for modern and spare - for their trendy kids, like they see in New York or something. But towards the very end, they want a round doorway, shrines, lots of teak beams and hundreds of Chinese lanterns.”
Jen casts his eyes down and shakes his head. Because Chinese workers are so efficient, late changes are really, really hard to incorporate.
I get the impression he’d love to have a hotel build which takes four years - plus another couple of years.
Just like back home in Bangkok.