Here they are: Thai toilets!

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As I mentioned back in Malaysia, we want to put a dent in the environmental disaster that constantly buying plastic water bottles represents. In Thailand, we made some headway. Some hotels- bless them- had filtered water available, so we could simply fill up our metal bottles over and over.

Newer, shinier airports (like BKK) often have drinkable water available too.

After some fruitless conversations with pharmacists, we also got our hands on some iodine to treat questionable water, just as hikers and campers do when they head in to the wild (Bangkok certainly qualifies as “wild”). We don’t treat just any water- only water at our nicer hotels received the Next Stop: World seal of approval. Besides the slight iodine taste, it has worked well. While we still buy bottled water, at least we can slip in an iodine batch every fourth or fifth time. Saving 20%-25% of our plastic seems like a worthy cause.

When travelers get to chatting, talk often turns to water quality, and we have occasionally regaled listeners with the sad tale of Milwaukee’s cryptosporidium outbreak in 1993. Research in an idle moment revealed some things even we didn’t know, like the fact that it was the worst waterborne disease outbreak in US history (given that over 100 people died and hundreds of thousands were sickened). We also read this fascinating article (and subsequent corrections to it) about the causes, which led us to be discriminating about the water we treat. Iodine can kill bugs but may not be sufficient if the water has high turbidity. So we’re careful.

The dream, of course, is for there to be drinkable water readily available all over the world. Judging from the piles of plastic bottles we’ve seen in Thailand, we’ve got a long way to go.