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Avoiding the Shower Menace

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With guidebooks already overflowing with warnings and cautions, you'd think there was nothing left to worry about. But no, the hardy travel scribes have gotten so whipped up in the frenzy over Bilharzia and Bear Attacks that they've overlooked another (and arguably more prevalent) danger associated with foreign travel: Electrics, or more precisely, dodgy electrics.

We would do well to remember that not all countries have the same prohibitively stringent electrical regulations as, for instance, the US or the UK. And, as an ex-electrician and regular traveler, I can vouch for this. To list every form of electrical danger would take a lot more time than I am willing to spend on such a subject, so instead I shall cut straight to the main offender – the budget hot shower.

Hardcore backpackers need not worry, as cold water versions obviously present no immediate dangers other than slimy floors and the odd leech. Flashpackers and luxury travelers may also rest easy as the extra dollars they are willing to fork out could well afford them an adequately funded, safe installation within their guesthouse or hotel. It’s the in-betweenies that more often than not fall foul of this phenomenon. Those that spend the minimum necessary to upgrade from torrents of cold water to trickles of hot water in backpacker flophouses should be very, very afraid. Well, if I were to heed my own advice about sensationalism in the second paragraph, they should at least a little concerned…

Remember that, as with most things, you get what you pay for and in this instance you may well get an additional surprise. When opting to crash in a budget flophouse, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that one may encounter a budget installation or two.

But don’t let this put you off the odd treat altogether. If its hot water that you want in the mornings, then go for it – but do exercise caution.

Rule number 1 is don’t fiddle with any setting on the shower head with the electric on, the water running, and you underneath it. Rule number 2 is don’t fiddle with any setting on the shower head with the electric on, the water running, and you underneath it. In theory it should be safe, but that’s not always the case.

If the shower does become a little more invigorating that you had anticipated, then be sure to (politely) let the proprietor know afterwards. They simply may not be aware of the problem, and may rectify it before someone else gets the same treatment in days to come. Even if managers don’t do anything about it, it’s not because they haven’t been made aware, and you can rest easy knowing that you have done your bit for future guests. Karma.

Alternatively, if after reading this you subsequently get spotted in the shower wearing nothing but rubber gloves and a big, cheesy smile, then all you need do is claim that you are simply safeguarding yourself against yet another danger associated with foreign travel.

Stay clean, stay safe, and have fun. Adios.

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