.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Running water

I've been in my house for close to two months now. Perhaps it's time I told a little about it. This is a traditional Cambodian timber house. Basically there are three types of house here. Ones like mine are quite common. Many people live in simpler homes built with a timber frame and palm leaf walls. Their walls need to be replaced periodically. If the family is poor, which is often the case, such walls become well ventilated. The non-traditional homes that many aspire to are made from bricks with a concrete facing.

The house I have now is similar to the one I had last year only smaller. It has two upstairs rooms. One is about six metres square. The smaller is about 3 x 2.6 metres. This is a high-set house similar to the Queensland style. Under the house is mostly open but with one brick-walled room. In this particular house, I suspect it will flood a little in the rainy season. I use it to store my bicycle. I have a verandah on one-and-a-half sides.

There is no internal lining on either the walls or ceiling nor is there glass or screens in the windows, just bars and shutters. This is a very basic home. I like to think I live Khmer style but the reality is that in this house in which I live alone there would normally be about ten Khmers. I recently visited my landlord's home, bigger than mine, and there are 23 people living there.

My house last year had no running water at all. Water was collected from the roof in the rainy season and pumped from underground during the dry season. This house has no way of collecting water from the roof. Before I moved in there was no water what-so-ever. Nor was there a bathroom of any sort. The owner put in both for me.

He didn't consult with me first and put the bathroom in the far corner of the backyard. When I talked to my friend, Vana, about this he said that Khmer people like their toilets to be as far from the house as possible. Strangely, when they advance to an indoor toilet they often put it in the corner of the kitchen???

To bathe I have a similar setup to what I had last year. A big tub holds water and you splash it over your body to get wet, soap up and splash water again to wash the soap off. My friends in Australia with water shortages could learn a lot from my Asian friends about saving water.

The owner also put in a water pump for me. There is no such thing as town water. The water is pumped from under the ground. About once a week I need to run the pump to top up the water in my tub. I also asked him to have a pipe run to the upstairs verandah so I could have water available there.

I pump it into a bin and have to collect it from there but at least it's right outside the door from the corner of the main room that I use as a kitchen. That's my version of running water. The red bucket in the picture is my washing machine.

Initially I started with both electric and hand water-pumps. They were in the open next to the bathroom. I hadn't been here long when someone climbed the 2.6 metre brick fence during the night and carried off the hand pump. I didn't hear anything.

There are a few results from this incident. I have another new electric pump installed in the room under the house. Razor wire has been put along the top of the two most vulnerable fence walls.

And I now have a dog. Australian readers shouldn't need three guesses to know what I have called her.

Labels: , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?