Growing up in the West, there are many things that you assume to be universally acknowledged as a Good Thing, but this is not always the case. Windows are a nice example; in the West, they add greatly to a living environment and raise the value of property by allowing light in and a view to be presented to the lucky inhabitant.
Here, they seem to be a necessary evil, added as an orifice for the air conditioning units. If the small size of the windows was not enough, very often a layer of dark plastic is applied over the top to stop too much natural light in, and bars are then drilled into the fabric of the building. People have explained these bars in various ways – for security, to stop babies falling out, and so on – but I am positive it is much more culturally ingrained than that. I am just sure that the link between the inside and outside world is much less obvious here.
In general, people seem to place much less emphasis on the outward appearance of a dwelling, focusing instead on the interior decoration. This is not always the case, as there are too many stylized European villas and castles to explain it that way, but there is something different going on with the relationship.
Enjoy the view