Taiwanese Plumbing From Hell

A creative plumbing job beneath a sink in the bathroom of a breakfast shop in Keelung.

This afternoon I snapped this photograph of the seemingly crazy plumbing job beneath a sink in the bathroom of a breakfast shop in Keelung 基隆. It was a hit on Facebook with many people sharing the photo to their own feeds. Some compared it to the work of M.C. Escher, others suggested this shop is stealing water, and one friend weighed in to say it’s an unsightly yet sensible design. Many foreigners in Taiwan have a sardonic catch phrase for this kind of half-assed job: chàbùduō 差不多, which translates to “almost” or “nearly”. (Apparently Taiwanese people don’t use this phrase in a negative context. Perhaps it is only laowai slang?) Maybe this crazy system of pumps and pipes serves its purpose—but it certainly looks like madness to the inexpert eye!

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1 Comment

  1. No, trust me, this looks even worse to the expert eye. I’m not an expert, but I have worked with and helped plumbers, and it’s horrifically cringeworthy. This is one of those ‘how hard could it be?’/’plumbers are expensive,’ do-it-yourself deals, or at best a ‘hey, I know I guy that fixes stuff’ situation.

    Just for one of the most obvious things- There is apparently a working sink above, as evidenced by the flexible stainless braided supply hose and the plastic drain coming down (which doesn’t appear to have a p-trap installed, or maybe one installed upside down, it’s not clear from the picture), AND a faucet and handle beneath the sink. Just in case, you know, two people want to get water at once. This is just deeply stupid. This is not exclusive at all to Taiwan, it’s a universal impulse amongst a certain sort of human. The only reason you see more of it in Taiwan is that commercial establishments can’t get away with it in most of the civilized world, and it’s confined to peoples’ own homes for the most part.

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