Water plays a big part in Thai life. Its many beautiful beaches and associated water sports help to attract much-needed tourism to boost the economy. It’s also the central feature of the Thai New Year celebrations ‘Songkran festival’ (Thai: เทศกาลสงกรานต์, pronounced [tʰêːt.sā.kāːn sǒŋ.krāːn]). Traditionally water would be poured on Buddha statues to represent purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck but these days everyone seems to delight in throwing water over everyone in sight, to such an extent that towns and cities become mere backdrops for mass water battles which can last for days on end.
The country’s climate, and lack of adequate drainage. means that Thailand is often plagued by both severe flooding and droughts.
The tropical temperature also means that anyone who does exercise needs to drink a lot of the water to stay hydrated. The problem is that you can’t drink the stuff, well not the H2O from the taps. It may well be fine after it’s been treated but by the time it makes its way through the piping systems to your home it’s less so.
Usually, if you’re living in a hotel, you’ll be supplied with two free bottles every day. If you want any more than that then you’ll need to buy it. The good news is that there’s a ready supply of bottled water in every street with shops. The bad news is that if like me you drink a lot of it the cost of it can soon mount up.
Of course, it’s more economical to buy the larger quantities and the less well-known brands. For example, I bought a 6-litre container for 46 Bhat, approximately £1.
However, there are even better ways to get your water. If you’re living in Thailand for a long time you can easily arrange for it to be delivered, in 10 litre bottles, direct to your house. If you’re only here for a relatively short time there’s another solution: water dispensers. These are located outside many shops. You simply take your empty bottle along and fill it at a cost of 1 Bhat per 1.5 litres. So I refill my 6-litre container for 4 Bhat, around 10p. If you want it to taste a little better, you can always add a slice of lemon.
Domestic Water – Pay the Bill !
The non-drinkable water in your house, or condo, is metered, so you also pay for what you use. The meter
is outside of the house and the water company sends someone to read it and then sends the bill to you. You simply take the bill and your cash to the local 7 Eleven shop, pay the bill and receive a receipt. If you don’t pay the bill within a few days, you get a blue card advising you to go to the water company that day and pay the bill, or your water will be cut off. I know because I lost my bill and was in when the guy from the water company called round, on his motorbike of course. Which was just as well as the card is in Thai and I wouldn’t have known what it was. I took it to the 7 Eleven but I couldn’t pay the bill there and was advised that I would need to go to the office instead. Unfortunately, the card doesn’t provide an address for the company but only a telephone number. I called the number, was transferred to a Thai who spoke English but didn’t seem able to give me the address but asked me if I knew particular landmarks, which I didn’t. I gave the phone to the checkout staff in the 7 Eleven who not only ascertained the location of the water company but also then hailed me a motorbike taxi and informed the driver of the address. The taxi took me there, waited and then returned me home. For a fee of 200 Bhat. I wouldn’t have minded but the water bill was only for 119 Bhat.