Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ode to the Shower Curtain

When people ask me what I miss most about home, besides my family and friends, of course, I always blurt out 'Maple Syrup' enthusiastically, without much thought. There are many other things that we find ourselves longing for, from time to time, but they always seem to elude me at the crucial moment when someone is awaiting my response. Shower curtains, for example, is a luxury that I completely take for granted at home. The fact that there is a specified area in which to shower, cordoned off by an aesthetically pleasing curtain that keeps all that water and soap inside the designated showering location, where it clearly belongs, seems to be the most obvious thing in the entire world, to me. Apparently most of the rest of the world doesn' t really agree, and in fact, we have not seen a shower curtain since we left Australia.

This may seem trivial, so let me paint you a picture of my curtain-less woes. The typical bathroom we have encountered has been approximately the size of a closet. In these closets-cum-bathrooms, there is scarcely enough room for a throne toilet, (when we're lucky), a sink (when we are really lucky), and an electric water heating box on the wall next to a small shower head (when we pay for it specially). The water heater and shower head hang somewhere in the one square foot of spare floor space between the toilet and the sink. There is no such thing as a 'shower' the way you are thinking about the definition of the word. As in, there is no special place in which to 'shower'. As long as you manage to keep the majority of the water in the bathroom, you can consider yourself successful. A 'shower' here simply means a hose from which water is able to flow onto your head (or chest, if you are over five feet tall). The 'problems' with this set-up (for me) are plentiful. First, there is the PSR (Pre-Showering Ritual) you need to remember before you can even begin to consider stepping under the water. This involves scowering the entire bathroom (ok, so there is a benefit to the tiny weeny bathrooms) and remove any toilet paper, waste bin that contains toilet paper (which they all do, because you never ever EVER flush even a single slice of TP down the toilet or it will surely cause a very embarrassing clog not only in your toilet, but probably in every toilet in the hotel, somehow. Believe me. We know (J: Kristen loves having the 'toilet paper excuse.' We like to learn things the hard way- it's more fun)... anyway, you remove towels, clothes, anything, ANYTHING that can't get soaked (besides the electrical outlets, which can't be removed, and apparently prefer a good dousing in water?) Thomas Merton famously died by electrocution when stepping out of a bath in Thailand. Being here, it is too easy to picture how that could have happened...especially to someone as absent minded as Merton. Anyway, why the ritual? Because everything is going to get wet. This includes the floor (more like a permanent puddle, really) and, horribly, the toilet seat. Midnight toilet runs become very frustrating when you have to somehow locate your sandals in the pitch black, fumble to find the light (which always seem to be located on the furthest possible wall from the bathroom) in your fifth different wet bathroom in as many nights, remember not to actually sit on the toilet seat, all while trying to keep your pj bottoms out of the floor that is now a puddle... and then, as you are reaching with your one spare finger for the toilet paper, you remember that you forget to return its rusty nail home after your shower!! EERRR!

Ok, so back to the actual adventure of showering. As you are standing there, trying to avoid touching the toilet with your bare legs, because that's just gross, you also need to keep your eye out for pesky mosquitoes, which thrive in the damp, constantly wet conditions. Water is flying everywhere and all I can think about is how wet the toilet is getting. We've tried to remedy this issue by leaving the toilet seat up while showering, and when that didn't work, we tried covering the seat with the lid, which was also to no avail. We've even tried to turn the water off while we lathered or whatever, and hold the small movable shower head so that the water could be more easily controlled. And while this method did lead to a significantly less wet toilet seat, it also led to more mosquito bites, more soap in the eyes and, really, have you ever tried to shower with only one hand? It's annoying.

So. You can imagine my joyous shock when we were checking out rooms in Siem Reap and I happened to glance in the bathroom and see the coveted shower curtain. I dragged Jonathan into the bathroom and closed the door behind us. 'Do you see this??!!! A special little designated showering area WITH a shower curtain!!' If he was excited he certainly did a good job of hiding it. Men just don't get it. 'We are taking this room, so you better get a good price!' I hissed as I appreciatively wrapped the damp, dank, but not yet moldy, dollar store (or riel store) curtain around me like a silk scarf. He rolled his eyes. 'You are absolutely nutso,' he said as he dusted himself off and opened the bathroom door to a very confused (and perhaps a little frightened) guesthouse manager who was still standing in the doorway waiting for us to decide whether we would take the room from her or not. At this point, she was probably hoping we wouldn't take it. I came out of the bathroom 'Ten dollars sounds good. We'll take it.' 'Ummmm, ok, good?' The manager asked herself. Then she turned in a dime and practically ran back down the stairs to the lobby.

Needless to say, we'll be hanging out in Siem Reap for a few blissfully dry toilet seat days!


Laura said...

oh man, SO GOOD. You have described the problems of the shower-bathroom very well, especially the middle-of-the-night wet-pyjama-bottoms no-toilet-paper situation! (I'm sure Jonathan will like to hear that Rosemary thinks that system is a good idea. Not sure why I live with her, really.)

Karly said...

I'm sure you miss my baking and cooking too!! That should b on the things u miss about back home!! I just made marshmallows that are chocolate covered!! Yummy!! They were soo good! Can't wait till we can do baking when I come home!! Miss you! Loved you!! Xoxoxoxoxooxox