We have an unprecedented number of spigots, faucets and shower heads in our new house in Rajaburi. I have counted fifteen different places in the four room house where one can turn on water, not counting the upstairs toilet which flushes.

The first is a simple outdoor spigot in the concrete courtyard. You enter the courtyard through a swinging gate. There's little inside save a few plants left by previous tenants, including a healthy aloe plant, and a table and chairs set made to resemble marble. We hang clothes to dry out here and little else, though many Thai families count the courtyard as another room on their house.

There are no spigots in the living room. It is a huge white box, with tile floors and shelves set into the wall with a television and our precious books. The room measures 15"x25" or thereabouts and is vast and empty. We have little furniture and no desire to accumulate any at this very moment. This computer currently rests upon an a miniature ironing board that rocks back and forth wildly while I type. The front room narrows at a set of stairs that lead up. There's no basement. Past the staircase we encounter our first faucet, set over a sink adjacent the bathroom door. The downstairs bathroom is Thai style, with a low toilet and a high pressure spray nozzle for cleaning oneself after attending to business. We stock toilet paper because the Lonely Planet Guide never explained how to spray oneself clean without getting wet and messy in the process. Next to the toilet is a tile basin built into the corner. A spigot fills it so you can scoop water into the toilet, the low tech way of flushing. Another spigot spills onto the floor for foot bathes and general cleaning. There's also a shower head that we never use.

The room past the stairs has a table and an aluminum cupboard. We dine there and prepare lessons and use the computer when we don't need to be connected to a phone line. Our rented refrigerator sits awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs. For the abundance of spigots, our house lacks electrical outlets.

Past the dining room there's the kitchen. It too has a floor cleaning spigot, two in fact, and a stainless steel sink for doing dishes. This area is covered and enclosed, but separate from the house. We have a single gas burner and a tank of propane where we fry vegetables and scramble eggs. The walls are not screened and every attempt at cooking is thick with mosquitos. Our house abuts our neighbors on all sides and their kitchens are of a similar arrangement. It often sounds as if someone has dropped in to do our dishes, the noises of clattering is so close.

Upstairs there are two large rooms, one with a bed, wardrobe closet and dressing table. The other is scattered with my pictures and other junk that longs for a table to be spread out upon. Each room has a small, uncomfortable balcony, where mosquitos congregate and plan their attacks.

The upstairs bathroom is a marvel of spigotry. There's a sink and a basin like downstairs, thought the upstairs toilet is western style, flushable and with a place to sit. There are two showerheads side by side. One is attached to an electrical water heater, allowing us a great luxury, hot water, whenever we so desire. That's usually only in the mornings, as cold showers are much more refreshing in the heavy heat. A high pressure nozzle and a random low level spigot complete the plumbing delights.

The house is light and airy with lots of windows. It is a relatively new house, built well of concrete and a good design. I say this because all the stairs are the same size. Often houses will have the random step, which is half the height or twice as tall as all the rest, suggesting that any available architectural drawings were ignored by the construction crew. We have air conditioning on both floors, but rarely use it. Fans keep the place cool and electric bills reasonable. We pay 4000 baht a month in rent, or roughly $95.00, plus utilities. We have a spirit shelf on the second floor, where we often leave bouquets of orchids to keep home life cozy.

The neighborhood is very safe. In fact, the biggest problem we have is the security guard.

He is a sweet old man, who comes on duty at six in the evening and leaves at dawn. He patrols a four block area on a ramshackle bike, lazily touring the streets every hour on the hour, sending the neighborhood dogs into paroxysms of mad barking. When not riding around, he generally reads the paper or sleeps in his little guard house.

After our neighbors settle in for the night and peace and quiet descends upon the hood, the security guard continues his rounds every hour, only now he carries two lengths of steel pipe. One is a foot long and four inches in diameter. It hangs from a heavy gauge wire. The other pipe is longer and very narrow. Together they make a bell fit to wake the dead.

He begins at one, ringing his evil gong one time at several different locations- including quite close to our bedroom window- throughout his four block jurisdiction. His chime is viciously loud and as musical as a car backfiring. The mechanical clang pierces your dreams and turns restful sleep into dreams of brutal revenge. At two he shatters the sweet quietude with two atonal notes and so on. If he doesn't rouse us at five, the local school's aerobics class start bouncing us out of bed by six. Shortly thereafter, a nearby family lets their tiny tinny-voiced dogs out to frolic in the yard. They sound like a flock of angry parrots, squawking amongst themselves until they are let back in. By then there are motorbikes and cars roaring off to work and people drifting through the neighborhood announcing a variety of items for sale on static-filled loudspeakers.

In the cool mornings, the whirring fans blades offer sweet reprieve, droning over the noisy world outside.

It's worth noting, we live in a quiet neighborhood.

back to the thai archive