As Noel Coward said, only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” I’m neither, which is why I was safely ensconced on our deep, shady guesthouse balcony – bare feet propped up, cool Beer Lao in hand.
My perch was a welcome respite from the heat of Luang Prabang’s toasty afternoon, and the perfect place for watching the ebb and flow on the street below.
A clanking delivery truck rolled up across the street, and as sometimes happens when I’m on the verge of a nap, the blog-post lightbulb came on. The thermometer was inching north of 9 oh! Farenhot, and what I saw was a tiny blue glacier on wheels: bundles and bundles of bottled water – a traveler’s constant companion.
Bottled water is a daily part of life in Laos, and many other parts of the world, particularly some of the places we travel. Face it; drinking bottled water all the time is a drag, and a perfectly chilled Perrier in a fancy restaurant isn’t the issue. It’s the constant thought that even a small sip of unsafe water could make you sick … sort of a liquid Sword of Damocles.
I spied these Buddhist monks, who must be pegging the good karma-meter, and even they were carrying bottled water.
When Terri and I are on a long trip we have a buddy-reminder system in place so we don’t forget and swish tap water when brushing our teeth – or God forbid – have a bacterial, booby-trapped ice cube. And then there’s the constant struggle to buy and cart home all the big bottles of water. It’s amazing how much water you can go through in a day, particularly in hot climates.
One of the first things that we say after returning from a long trip is how delightful it is to drink from the tap. This post isn’t a rant so much as a reminder that much of the globe doesn’t have this luxury, and we never take safe drinking water for granted.
The human body is roughly 70% water, and survival experts say that without water, most people won’t make it past 3 days. So if you’re on the road reading this post, don’t forget to pick up your bottled water. And if you’re at home, go into the kitchen and toast the water company with a cool, safe glass of tap water.
James & Terri
P.S. This is the last post in our series on Luang Prabang. It was fun for us because it enabled us to cover a few topics that we weren’t able to get to while we were there. We hope that you enjoyed the series.
1. Gary Brownell via Wikimedia Commons
4. Ivy Main via Wikimedia Commons
6. Sascha Kohlmann via Wikimedia Commons
8. ZamiK via Wikimedia Commons