The Bucket Wash


Travelling in Sri Lanka has re-introduced me to the an old travellers institution, the necessity to wash yourself, like billions of others in the world, from a bucket. You have a a ladle or a small bowl, a large tap-filled bucket, an acceptance this is gonna be cold on your crown jewels and a humility that this regression is fine. I try to think of it as that shower you have before diving into the pool. On the negative, you are naked. Then again, no one is watching. Showering like this is barely effective for a newbie like me. But the bigger issue is this is normal for many parts of the world, worse due to the lack of tapped water requires walking for miles to fetch it or going to the river to bath. (Naturally once Myo turned up we had to find a better place!)

I’ve helped out at Water Aid and consulted with them on their research. At Nottingham Dena and I went to see some presentations and films on the subject, The World Water Council, the unoffical water board for the world is in fact a sham organisation run by the French for the benefit of water companies. Its about as effective as the International Whaling Commission which is corrupted by the Japanese. So much so Laos is a member at the invitation of Japan. After they must have a lot of whales in such a  land-locked country.

Access to clean water is considered a human right. Our use of bottled water sold to us by Coca-Cola is a remarkable waste of drinking water. In hindsight so were my ridiculously long showers at Uni or in Korea where I’d run the shower and then have a naked chat with Christine about what drunken shenanigans we got up to last night. All the while Christine hid under the duvet. Abroad foreigners insist of bottled water even when their food and the plates they eat off are washed in local water. My advice is get the bug early and let your guts remedy it and move on. I’ve had four poisoning four times over the years (Brazil, Bolivia, Morocco and Colombia) and the next day, after some water I feel fine. Once we get over our preciousness and remember how we bathed as kids, or chewed plastic and stayed out until bed time out of sight from home, then we’ll relax. A bit of cold water down there is apparently good for circulation they say.



It seems that no matter where I go, a catchphrase for the trip arrives no sooner than I have stood up. This time it was a classic with a close runner-up.
After our big night, we lazed and lazed. That evening we caught the over-night train north to Laos. After endless hassles from the local drunk who cracked onto Tom and then Christine. Knowing where Joey and his hammock adventure got us in Brazil where i ended up with my horny guy’s crotch preciously close to ma honker, I stayed away from the guy. Unfriendly I know, but hey, my lesson shone through as this whiskied dude got on the train and proceeded to talk to Christine until the train pulled away. I told ya…..

Sitting opposite us was a prematurely white haired gentleman, looking a touch grumpy. The train pulls away, and his hostility grows until his rasping finger can take it no more. As the train guard checks the tickets, he throws an pointer finger accusingly at a girl’s bag lounging on the floor and shouts…”It’s not supposed to be there asshole!” Well, well. Wonder what turned his hair white. Actually he kinda reminded me of Christine’s Dad, the man who brilliantly warned us not to go to the west of China as he’d “heard about those Kstans.”

We arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, pre-warned and for me slightly disappointed. The great Mekong River has almost dried up, there are gringos galore accompanied by the usual internet cafes (where i sit at the moment), Western food and “let’s get drunk” signs. the temples looked worn down and the gringo trail is well and truly set. European couples slouch around, late 20s i guess. We ate Laos foodntianeas much as possible and relaxed, stumbling round the construction sites the city in the blazing heat with our new Japanese friend Yusaku with whom I spoke a lot of japanese. That’s cos he wasnt an asshole.