Water Matters

I tried to take a shower this morning, but when I turned the knob, nothing happened except a few taunting drips and a sad gurgle.

Me: Water you doing?
Water: Nothing.
Me: Hmph.

This is maybe the third day in a row that the Big House has been sans water in the morning. Mind you, the water normally works, and lately it’s worked in the afternoon, but the morning is such a nice time to shower, especially if you’ve come from running around a track. Instead of showering, I had to air-dry in front of a fan – and it’s just not the same.

There’s something unusual going on with the tanks not pumping water into the house at certain times of day, and it’s almost malicious at times, stopping right after you’ve just lathered up and just before you’re ready to rinse.

It’s not the first time that we’ve been without running water while living in Thailand, and it’s definitely not the last.

Believe me, the irony of not having water in our house while Bangkok is flooding, or while there is a monsoon happening outside, is not lost on me.

When I first moved into the old Rat House (named such because we live on Chalokratt, not because there were rats there), water only came at certain times of day, namely, in the middle of the night.  Then one time (maybe two), too much water came, and then our tile floor was covered in 2-inches of water.  Again, the irony – yes, it’s still there.

You may be wondering what you do if the water only comes on in the middle of the night and you aren’t there at 3 am to shower.  Well, we’ve got a solution; however, it’s not exactly pretty.

What we’ve done in the past is buy large garbage can, stick it in the corner of the bathroom, and then turn the water on before going to bed.  Then, when the water comes in the middle of the night and you hear flooding, you run downstairs to stop it.

The bucket is ubiquitous in Thailand – the party spots use them for distributing
copious amounts of alcohol, but those of us who don’t live on an island tend to use the bucket to take a shower out of said garbage can.  You can either dip the handled bucket into the garbage can and pour it over yourself (to shower) or pour it into the toilet bowl (to flush).

Not that I mind bucket showers.  They’re not bad; they’re just different.  I actually prefer bucket showers to running cold water showers because the water in the bucket is usually at least room temperature and not cold.  To each her own.  Bucket showers are something you might want to be mentally prepared for before coming here – I guarantee you’ll have to take at least one.

We’ve got 2 big tanks to store water now, so water isn’t usually an issue.  We’ve also got hot water heaters for the showers – did you know that here, there’s usually no hot water knob?  I didn’t before coming here.  These things that now seem like old news to me were mindblowing when I arrived.

Thailand is a lesson in not taking things for granted.  As one of my coworkers
said, how often in America do we leave the tap on or use water mindlessly and then the only thing that happens is you’re not environmentally friendly? Here, if we leave the tap on, the water is going to run out of our tanks and we won’t be able to use it until the tanks fill again.

So, in the spirit of not taking things for granted, I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m grateful that the Big House has running showers, hot water heaters, water tanks, and sinks.  Those things are really great and make living here comfortable.  Last but certainly not least, I’m grateful that our toilets are flushable and that even when we don’t have enough water to shower, the toilets have faithfully still done their job.

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