Being a sweaty bird and living in constant 30 degree plus temperatures with ridiculously high humidity means that a lot of water is consumed on a daily basis. And when I say a lot I’m talking on average between 3 & 6 litres a day depending on how active I’m being.
Thankfully, I am able to access fresh drinking water from a tap unlike many in Cambodia. However, said tap is not attached to the mains as it is in the UK but comes courtesy of 20 litre blue bottles, bottles which have to be purchased from a shop. The initial purchase involves a $5 deposit being paid after which you just rock up at the shop with your empty bottle and they replace it with a full one for the princely sum of between 75 cents and a dollar a pop.
When I first arrived in Kampot I lived at My Parent’s Guesthouse my water supply needs were met by the shop at the end of the lane. I would carry the empty bottle down, pay my money and utter, in very poor Khmer, a request that the strong, smiley and super helpful son of the owner deliver said full bottle to my room. Sometime between 1 and 6 hours later (and sometimes after a revisit to prompt) the lovely smiley boy would appear with the bottle perched on his shoulder and place it in my kitchen, his reward for which was a ‘tip’ of between 25c & $1 from me depending on my mood and what currency I had to hand.
September saw my move to the big blue house that I now call home and an induction to all things water purchase from the lovely Linda.
Again, it involves a visit to the local shop, but sadly there is no strong, smiley and super helpful son in the picture here which means the collecting and carrying has to be done by me and leads to this post today.
We headed out along the notoriously bumpy lane to the shop around the corner with the trusty bike and a bungee cord, collected 2 bottles of water (after all there were two of us) perched one precariously on the seat whilst securing the other to the rack with the bungee cord and made our way back home. Whilst laughing uproariously we slowly manoeuvred the bike replete with bottles around and through the potholes galore, whilst getting slowly soaked from the sweat of our exertions in blazing sunshine and 90% humidity, coupled with the slightly leaky nature of the water bottles.
Once home we negotiated the gate, parked up the bike and proceeded to transport the bottles upstairs.
And just so you get an idea of what transporting the bottles upstairs entails, the below pictures (one taken from eye level standing in front of the bottom step and the other from the top step looking directly down) hopefully gives you some idea of the pitch of the two flights of stairs we had to climb, each carrying a 20litre bottle of water which was slowly dripping down our already sweat sodden bodies.
We made it to the top, deposited the bottles in place and proceeded to sweat profusely and giggle loudly for a while longer.
Life then continued without water issues until Linda left and the time came for me to attempt the water purchase alone for the first time.
Getting the bottle onto the bike was not a big problem, making the decision not to use the bungee cord and instead rely on holding the bottle was as it turned out.
I wobbled unsteadily for about 20 yards before hitting a pothole at a funny angle which threw the bike off balance and the bottle crashing to the floor. Water began to gush from a split in the bottle and I had to move pretty damn quick to get the bottle back up on the bike and turned over to avoid losing the whole 20litres to the dust.
I managed to teeter home without further incident and get the bottle upstairs with only about 3-4 litres lost to the road and my clothes. What was left was decanted into the other bottle and life once more continued.
Bottle collection two passed without incident thanks partly to the sensible decision to use of the bungee cord and partly due to luck I think. On collection number three I experienced a little wobble as I again hit a pothole causing the bike to tip with the bungee cord only just managing to stop the bottle’s fall but subsequent collections, including the one yesterday passed without incident.
That said, I was aware that yesterday’s bottle, whilst not leaking profusely on the bike as others had, was extremely wet when I picked it up, so much so that it caused me to stop halfway up the stairs to dry off my feet which I feared were getting wet enough to make me to slip on the stairs from hell.
Anyway, thankfully nothing untoward occurred and I placed the bottle on the floor and went about the rest of my day.
This morning dawned bright and sunny and I got up to make myself a peppermint tea as I engaged in my morning ritual of reading mindless trash on the internet. Filling the kettle involved using the last of the other bottle of water and so I placed that one on the floor and bent down to lift the new one into its place. As I grabbed it it felt wet. It crossed my mind that it might be difficulty to hold. I ignored said thought and proceeded. I tucked my hands under the base with my arms cradling either side of the bottle, took the weight and began to lift.
And then it happened.
The bottle unceremoniously tipped and slid out of my arms crashing to the floor. This caused the lid to shoot across the room and the bottom of the bottle to split thus sending the 20 litres of drinking water flooding out all over the lounge floor.
I may have let out a slight scream just before uttering a muted ‘oh for fuck sake’ and stupidly trying to run out to the terrace to grab stuff to stem the flow. It turns out that running on shiny tiles that are flooded is a real dumb ass move just in case you’re wondering. Whilst I did manage to avoid falling flat on my arse I am now sporting a slight groin strain causing me to walk like I’ve just got off a horse.
Fast forward one hour, countless wringing out of old towels and t-shirts (thanks Linda for leaving them behind), endless squeegeeing of the floor to shift the water into one area and pouring two full mop buckets of it over the balcony onto the crab swamp and I have decamped to Simply Things to let the remainder dry off whilst I get shit done.
I’m not scared to admit I’m dreading going back and cleaning up what remains. I’m dreading facing Sareth as he’ll no doubt laugh at what an absolute numpty I’ve been, but even more I’m dreading the fact that I now have to go through the whole bloody collecting a bottle of water thing all over again having smugly though yesterday I have about a week before experiencing that hell once more!
Update from home:
Well, I decided to bite the bullet and go straight out to get the deed done on returning home. You will be pleased to know I made it from the shop to home with no catastrophe and have also successfully navigated the stairs and placed the new bottle safely on the counter.
I have, however managed to suffer another mishap during my exploits and so I am sitting down to enjoy my rather expensive packet of McVities Ginger Nuts and can of ‘I don’t really like it that much but it makes a change from water’ Coke Light post trauma treat nursing a very bloody thumb thanks to my attempts to bodge the broken plastic into the gap in the bottom of the empty, part shattered bottle to try and hide my crime – you couldn’t make it up could you!?!?!?!?!