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
1. Gary Brownell via Wikimedia Commons
4. Ivy Main via Wikimedia Commons
6. Sascha Kohlmann via Wikimedia Commons
8. ZamiK via Wikimedia Commons