Samui Wining & Dining
Adam's Ale

The wetter it gets…

12-13“Water, water every where, nor any drop to drink.” The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Samuel Taylor Coleridge


     If your spaceship went out of control and plunged headlong towards planet Earth, the chances are that you’d make it. Well – assuming that you’d be less damaged by crashing into water than land, that is. It’s well-known that the surface of the Earth is more than 70% water. But what most people don’t realise is that out of all the water that’s on this planet, only 2.5% of it is drinkable – in other words, not seawater. And this includes all the ice-caps and glaciers, too. So here’s the sobering thought. There’s only about 0.6% of the planet’s water that’s fresh and accessible – and nearly all of that is deep underground.

     The knowledge of the vital nature of water has been in the forefront of Man’s awareness since time immemorial. It’s become built-in to our racial consciousness. It plays a large part in our myths and legends and has wormed its way into our everyday sayings and expressions. Even the quaint English expression ‘Adam’s Ale’ is rooted in a biblical reference that supposes that Adam had no other beverage than water. (The social philosophers amongst you may like to take note that, in Scotland, water is similarly referred to as ‘Adam’s Wine’.)

      Our bodies are mostly water, too. A newborn infant is made up of an astonishing 78% water – although this reduces in the adult; down to around 60%. And we mustn’t forget the moon’s gravitational effect on ocean tides. Now we’re back again to the stuff of fable and legend. It’s no accident that werewolves rampage when the moon is full, or that a woman’s monthly cycle of 28 days corresponds to the moon’s ‘courses’ also. (I’m almost sure that these two examples aren’t connected, either.) It’s also been observed, worldwide, that during the period of the full moon, there are more suicides; domestic and social violence increases; animals in captivity become agitated, and road traffic accidents are more frequent. And, just to cap this, a recent Canadian study indicates that professional hockey players become more aggressive, too, if that’s possible.

       But let’s not lose sight of the main function of water – we drink it and it keeps us alive. As Mark Twain observed, “Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anyone.” Or can it? Along with the increase in city-dwellers in the 14th and 15th centuries, came the waterborne diseases of dysentery, typhoid and cholera – not to mention the bubonic plague, which thrived cheerfully in the squalid conditions of those times. But, strangely, it took a while for the idea of safe, bottled drinking water to catch on

       The Romans were the first – caching stores of safe water alongside their established trade routes. But it wasn’t until 1863, that the French company, Perrier, decided to bottle and sell the water from its popular health spa. Over the next decade, these bottled mineral waters became all the rage, both in Europe and America, and were consumed voraciously by anyone wealthy enough to afford them – often they came in hand-cut glass decanters, as a mark of their prestige. But it wasn’t until 1968 that sales of bottled water really took-off. This was the year that Perrier’s main French competitor, Vittel, launched a range of waters aimed at the up-and-coming middle classes – and sold in cheap plastic bottles. In some ways this marked the start of an obsession. Why? Because the associated marketing campaigns played on well-being and quality of life, rather than the medicinal benefits with which these products had previously been associated.

       Today, we drink more bottled water than any other liquid. In 2002, the USA alone gulped its way through six billion gallons of the stuff – out of total sales worldwide of a staggering thirty-three billion gallons. Pause to let that sink in … Some arduous calculations indicate that’s more than 0.5 percent of the entire drinking water that’s available naturally on this planet. And it’s all going into bottles. Plastic bottles. Millions of them, every day. And, just to throw a very sobering thought at you, most of these bottles will take 1,000 years to biodegrade – 9 out of 10 of them ending up as garbage or litter – 30 million of them a day, to be exact

In 2002, the USA alone gulped its way
through six billion gallons of the stuff

       Right. Where were we? Oh yes … relaxing on a lovely tropical island. That’s right. I remember. But, to continue the ‘thrust’ for just a few moments more, the reason we do all this really isn’t because of our health … we’ve actually never been healthier. No – it’s because we’re worried about our health. ‘Fitness’ and ‘health’ is pushed at us from every TV set, magazine and advert, and it’s become BIG business, with many corporate fortunes relying on it, and feeding (or drinking) off it, daily. We’re told we suffer from the tensions and stress that goes with ‘modern living’ and that we need to become healthier to handle it all – and so, we believe it. And perhaps it’s true. But, unless you’re living in the slums of Calcutta, then it’s safe to drink water from your tap. It might taste obscurely of fluoride or chlorine (whatever they taste like) but it won’t harm you.

       On the other hand, while you’re on Samui, it’s best to play it safe and go for one of the bottled brands, like Singha or Nestlé. Buy the biggest bottle you can carry, and decant it into smaller ones for daily use. It’s not only cheaper, but it cuts down on disposal problems, too.

         Water. One of the most basic and abundant resources on our planet. How can life have become so complex, that such a simple thing can have assumed such gigantic proportions? But still-waters run deep. You could probably pour cold water over a lot of what I’ve just been saying, but come hell or high water, most of it is watertight. In any case, it’s probably all water off a duck’s back, so I’ll let the late, great W.C. Fields have the last word – perhaps he’ll put it all into some sort of perspective. When asked about water, he frowningly replied, “I hate water – fish fornicate in it.”




Rob De Wet


Copyright 2017 Samui Wining & Dining. All rights reserved Siam Map Company Ltd.