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29 July 2014 / leggypeggy

Tits, pits and other bits—or 11 days without a shower—and a surprise wifi connection

river bathing

Quinn and Alex raft and bathe at the same time

Overland trips are a surefire way to learn about the simple joys of a bucket bath.

Twice in Africa we went 13 days without access to showers, or access to much water in general. The first time was as we travelled across remote western Nigeria where we encountered no towns, no rivers, no lakes, no wells—not even any puddles.

There must have been water around somewhere, but we didn’t find it, so we had to make the 400 litres we carried in jerry cans last as long as possible for cooking and drinking. Like our travelling companions, Poor John and I also had many more litres stashed away in our locker.

Fortunately, most of Central Asia is different. Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have abundant water—Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan pretend to have abundant water and are peopled by the most wasteful water users I have ever seen, but I’ve already written about where their precious water comes from.

Eastern Russia (read Siberia) has plenty of water too, in the form of fast-slowing rivers and scenic lakes that are completely picturesque and absolutely freezing.

Five days ago, in a hotel in Ust in northeastern Kazakhstan, we said good-bye to our last hot showers for 11 days. By the time you read this, we will have reached Mongolia’s capital of Ulan Bator, having covered 2500 kilometres of remote Asia. I hope I will have had a hot shower. One must have little dreams.

Kazakhstan scenery

A likely spot for a bath in Kazakhstan

Along the way, we have had to make do with all manner of creative ‘bathing’. Quinn and Alex did not one, but two speedy trips on li-los (blow-up swimming pool rafts) down an icy river. I’ve never seen goose bumps as big as the ones that came up on Alex’s arms after the first foray.

Steph had a quick dip, Sarah washed her hair (and said she couldn’t feel her head after that), several scrubbed face and hands as they stood on the riverbank, a few (including Poor John) did full dunkings. I did a sort-of bucket bath—standing at the edge of a shallow, almost-still pool and paying attention to the tits, pits and other bits.

One fellow, however, resisted everyone’s demands that he have at least a mini wash so we could stop holding our breath and noses around him. He’d better be careful. People like that run the risk of being left behind at the next border crossing.

P.S. We’re heading to a biggish town in western Mongolia today (29 July). It’s day six without a shower and there’s a small chance of wifi before we drive on to the next bush camp. Our reluctant bather caved in and had a bit of a wash and a change of clothes before we crossed the border from Russia to Mongolia.

Kazakhstan scenery

My private bathing pool—where Poor John stood guard

41 Comments

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  1. Anne Curry / Jul 29 2014 4:47 pm

    I am following your journey. The best travel story I have ever read. I guess it helps we were on an Antartica trip together, and I can imagine you and John in every scene.
    Anne Curry

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    • leggypeggy / Aug 5 2014 2:22 am

      Thanks Anne. Look forward to sending you a message (by email) along with some long-overdue photos from Antarctica. So pleased you wrote here. Thanks.

      Like

  2. Anne Curry / Jul 29 2014 4:48 pm

    Sounds wonderful!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 5 2014 2:20 am

      Oh Anne, I’m so glad you commented. I misplaced your email so long ago and didn’t know how to contact you. Now I have a path. Will get in touch after we get home next week.

      Like

  3. Lin Stockley / Jul 29 2014 6:52 pm

    What about the wet wipes? I couldn’t have survived our trip without them! I had several wet wipe ‘baths’ in the tent. I think you are all incredibly brave to venture into that icy water. 🙂

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    • leggypeggy / Aug 4 2014 6:48 pm

      Wet wipes are a must. Don’t leave home without them. 🙂

      Like

  4. lmo58 / Jul 29 2014 6:53 pm

    Oh Peggy, that must be really hard! Much as I don’t like cold showers, except in the middle of summer, I wouldn’t be able to resist getting into the freezing water. I’m sure I, and anyone else who tried it, would defrost eventually. As always, lovely photos and I like your exclusive pool too.

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    • leggypeggy / Aug 4 2014 6:51 pm

      I wanted to resist getting into the freezing water, but my nose dictated otherwise.

      Like

  5. suchled / Jul 29 2014 6:59 pm

    Beautiful photos. And you can’t smell photos so we don’t have to worry.

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  6. suchled / Jul 29 2014 7:02 pm

    And can you tell mickeydownunder that her wordpress site doesn’t respond.

    Like

  7. Emily Baitch / Jul 29 2014 7:17 pm

    Hi Peggy, your latest blog entry looks great. The whole primitive living thing reminds me of our camping trips in Mongolia. I can’t wait to hear about what you thought of UB and any where else that you travel to in Mongolia. I hope you love every minute of your travels, even the shower less ones, and I look forward to reading more blog entries soon. Emily

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 5 2014 1:54 am

      Hi Emily, I’m sure thinking of you today—we arrived in Ulaanbaatar this afternoon after driving across the country from west to east. We took the southern route, and spent a lot of time on a road that isn’t on any map. We camped all the way, which is why no one has seen any sign of me on the blog. More soon.

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  8. sylvia oliver / Jul 29 2014 11:38 pm

    hope you get a proper bath soon…so what does yak taste like?

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    • leggypeggy / Aug 4 2014 7:00 pm

      Not sure I’ve had yak, but mares’ milk is a bit sour.

      Like

  9. pagedogs / Jul 30 2014 9:40 am

    That may be my favorite blog post title ever! The best thing about a frigid dip is that you feel so energized and cozy when you get dressed afterwards.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 4 2014 7:02 pm

      Didn’t have to think too long to come up with that title. As for feeling energised—it would have helped if I’d been able to change into clean clothes.

      Like

  10. Sharon / Jul 30 2014 10:29 pm

    Simple pleasures!

    I love your blog title too! Classic.

    Like

  11. gallivance.net / Jul 31 2014 8:29 pm

    Peggy, who can resist a title like that? You and your crew are definitely modern-day explorers – with the road tales to prove it! And that cold water bathing – been there, done that. Yikes! Here’s hoping theres a hot (or at least lukewarm) shower waiting for you. ~Terri

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 4 2014 7:04 pm

      Was hoping for a hot shower today, but Poor John tells me both taps in the hostel deliver cold water. Bummer!

      Like

  12. ninagrandiose / Aug 5 2014 12:31 pm

    I always travel with a small electric water boiler so that in an emergency I can have my morning coffee (I am American!) and in a bind have a mini wash. I have never regretted taking this gadget with me ever.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 6 2014 1:17 am

      We have a little electric water boiler too. It’s so old, it’s probably not safe, but we use it anyway. On the truck, we boil water over a campfire, but the boiler is a must in hostels and hotels.
      You’d be pleased to know that all Australian motels and hotels have a electric kettle in the rooms. Good idea, huh!

      Like

  13. Midwestern Plant Girl / Aug 5 2014 8:26 pm

    Yes, my nose would force me into the ice cold H2O. At least one dip to the neck…
    Looking forward to reading of your adventures! I’ve not left this continent yet, however got a passport.. will travel. At the very least, we will go where we can drag our trailer and there are many roads here!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 6 2014 1:13 am

      Delighted to have you along. I’m originally from the Midwest of the US. There are lots of wonderful places to see there, so happy travels to you.

      Like

  14. mommycookforme / Aug 6 2014 8:52 am

    I am delighted your post and the best travel article I have ever read! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  15. artandkitchen / Aug 7 2014 8:21 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences and pictures. I wondered about taking shower or a bath while travelling as you do. Here is you answer

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 7 2014 8:33 pm

      Showers are always a challenge on an overland trip. Just part of the adventure. 🙂

      Like

  16. Kenny2dogs / Aug 10 2014 6:59 am

    nothing more exhilarating than walking out of a “hot” sauna and plunging into the icy waters of the Stockholm archipelago. Then as the snow flakes fall the skin tingles !!! Great post Peggy 🙂

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Aug 10 2014 5:57 pm

      Thanks Kenny. If only we’d had a hot sauna to go into in the first place! 🙂

      Like

  17. David / Feb 10 2015 6:46 am

    PJ is a good soldier, standing guard at your private pool and all! Great photos continue along with your wonderful prose, thank you very much!

    Like

  18. Vicki / Jul 21 2015 4:52 pm

    Coldest shower I ever had was in Paris camping ground in the summer of 1976 (of all places). But after 3 days without a shower, I was at my limit of ‘smelliness’. I’m sure that water came straight from the highest French Alps.

    Great post!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jul 21 2015 11:01 pm

      Oh geez, Vicki, you have my sympathy. I’ve had some super cold showers, but can’t imagine having the coldest one ever in France in summer! That’s just not right—or fair.

      Like

  19. Halee Pagel / Apr 8 2016 8:32 am

    You’re the first travel blogger I’ve found that’s been to Mongolia and I’m so excited about it! I served in the Peace Corps at the same time you visited. Did you write a separate post about your time? I would love to know what you thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 10 2016 10:41 am

      Oh wow, Halee, I bet you had an amazing time in Mongolia. We sure did. I have to apologise and say that I haven’t yet written in detail about our time there, but I will. I’m often 12 months behind on posts, and sometimes I’m up to the minute. You never know. But I’ll let you know when I do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Halee Pagel / Apr 10 2016 11:52 am

        Glad to hear you enjoyed the country! It’s an amazing place 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  20. lexklein / Sep 19 2016 9:32 am

    Dave Ply seems to think you and I are well-traveled people and good guessers (!), so I figured I had to check out your blog! The minute I saw Mongolia, I knew I had to read more. I just returned from that very interesting country last month. Looking forward to traveling around your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 19 2016 5:03 pm

      We loved Mongolia. Drove all the away across it, so it’s good that we enjoyed it. I’m going to love exploring your blog too.

      Liked by 1 person

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