You’re supposed to use it for your bum. Not for THIS.

“Perfect timing!” my mum cried, as I climbed back in the car, and shook my head at her.

big wave 2

We’d just spent 10 days in Thailand, babysitting my tiny niece, while my brother and his wife were away. I was leaving a few days before they got back, and had just checked in my bags at the airport. An airport, which is very close to a beach.

My mum – ever the maximiser, and the rule-breaker – had suggested that, having dropped off my suitcase, we jump back in the car, drive to the sea, and I have a quick, last swim, before I get on the plane.

I really like airports, and LOVE sitting around by myself, reading while waiting for a plane. But… once my mum gets what she thinks is a great idea in her head for something fun to do, if you don’t have a really good reason, it’s hard to dissuade her. So I was going for a quick, last swim, before I got on the plane.

Pulling up at the beach, I grabbed a towel, kicked off my flip-flops and, with my swimmers on underneath, pulled off my dress. Leaving my niece with my mum on the sand, as I clambered into the waves and shouted over my shoulder, “I’ll just plough up and down for five minutes!”

It wasn’t very deep, but the water was rough, so I stayed in the shallows. I figured I’d do a bit of breast-stroke, in one direction and then back, and keep my hair relatively dry before I got on the air conditioned plane for the 15 hour journey back to London. Just as I was thinking of wading back out –


– a huge wave picked me up, and chucked me under the water.

The world went yellow, salty and a little bit scary – before the wave passed over, I found the ground again, and pushed my way up to the surface. Gasping a huge breath, I rubbed my eyes and saw I was only a few feet from the edge of the water.

I walked out, got to my mum and niece, grabbed a towel and said, “Let’s go back”.

After we strapped the little one in, I started to dry myself. And then I realised a problem:

I was covered in sand. COVERED.

“Don’t go just yet!” I asked my ma, as I opened the door and stepped out sandy bodyonto the ground, hitting myself with the towel in an attempt to knock some of it off. I climbed back in the car, told her she could drive now, and went to take off my bikini top.

Shlop. Shlop.

Two ENORMOUS piles of sand plopped into my lap.

Peeling off my bottoms had the same effect. Clearly, the wave that tossed me over, had also taken half the sand from the beach, and placed it inside my swimmers.

And now, I was covered in sand. And about to get on a 15 hour flight.

“Try these,” my mum said, handing me some baby wipes. I did, but they just seemed to move the sand around my body. “Try hitting yourself again with the towel.

Through gritted teeth, I answered, “It’s. Not. Working.”

We drove back to the airport in silence. Well, almost silence. “I can’t believe I’m covered in sand!” I whined. Which is actually pretty restrained, as what I was thinking, was, ‘WHY did you MAKE me go for a quick, last SWIM before I got on the plane when I didn’t even WANT TO. WHY are you SO OBSESSED with trying to do EVERYTHING YOU CAN at the LAST MINUTE. HOW could you have THOUGHT this was a GOOD IDEA?” But I don’t get to see my mum very often, and didn’t want to part on a fight.

“Don’t worry!” she said. “When you get there, you can use the bum gun to clean yourself!”

I threw her a skeptical look.

In case you’re not familiar with East Asian plumbing systebum gunms, after you ‘go’, the norm isn’t to use toilet paper, but to wash yourself with water. In less fancy or rural places, there will be a big bucket with a small bowl for you to scoop it out. Somewhere with more sophisticated plumbing has a “bum gun” –  a short hose with a trigger on the end that you aim at your undercarriage, which then violently squirts water to clean you.

Kissing my mum and niece, then waving the car off, I made my scratchy, sandy way through security. Once on the other side, I headed to the washrooms.

Finally in the cubicle, I made another skeptical face, then stripped down, hanging my clothes over my bag on the back of the door, but leaving my sarong out. I straddled the toilet, facing backwards, leaned over, grabbed the bum gun, and started squirting at myself.

It was brilliant. It worked like a charm.

With some careful contorting, I managed to wash my entire body using the bum gun over the toilet bowl. From my neck all the way down to my feet. I didn’t even make that much of a mess on the floor! Then, I used my sarong to dry myself off.

Five minutes later, I emerged from the cubicle, clean as a whistle, without a grain of sand on me.

I went and sat by my gate, feeling enormously smug about the fact that I – unlike everyone else there – had just been for a quick, last swim before I got on the plane.

Then I texted my mum, to thank her for her good idea.



Thank you for reading. If you know someone who would likely enjoy this story, you can share it with them using one of the little round buttons below.

If you’ve had any last-minute maximising experiences (or run-ins with your insistent-but-actually-smart mother), do let me know in the comments below.

You rule,

(Yes Yes) Marsha



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Photo credits: douglemoine, ckaroli and eliduke, all via Compfight cc


  • Julia

    Reply Reply January 1, 2016

    In case a hundred people haven’t already told you this, and you ever find yourself in a similar situation except *not* in a country that favours high-pressure water for toilet hygiene…

    …talc also works really well :)

  • Marlyne

    Reply Reply January 8, 2016

    Moms always seem to know best, even when we question the judgement. Great that you went along for the ride! Fun story. :)

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