Rhian’s bath tour of the world

The airport hotel in Santiago had all mod cons, including an en-suite bathroom,

with bath. I was very excited about this bath, but as I went to close the curtains

at the window so I could waltz around naked between bath and bed (huge, double,

to be occupied fully alone, about which I was also very excited), I spied a

Swimming Pool outside. It was only 1am, a very reasonable time for a swim, considering

how long I had gone without one, I thought, but the concierge clearly thought

I was mad when I appeared in the lobby in bikini and sarong.

Oh, that first splash! Water all around me. And in a bikini, outside! I splashed

around like a six-year-old. But the best bit was if I floated on my back and

looked at the stars. Orion was there, smiling down on me, and I was happy to

know that Halley wasn’t so far away after all. (My favourite time is still star

time, the place I can escape to when the world all gets a bit too ridiculous.)

The bath was good, but not up to expectations. No bubbles, and I had to hold

my legs in the air in order to lie properly down. Far too short.

Expectations, another thing I’ve realised. The things I was most looking forward

to: baths, mangoes, carrots, wine, etc etc, were all of their absolute finest

in my imagination, and often first attempts did not live up to standard. But

I persevere.

My second bath was in Buenos Aires. This was much better. Still too short,

but in an old ceramic tub with cracked tiles, in an ancient hotel with a story

to tell. I didn’t realise, but I had missed history. Every year, a new Halley

is created by a new layer of snow. I love that. But history… In Santiago I

found myself drawn inside an ancient cathedral: dark, old, so many stories.

A queue for confession with the smiling priest. If I spoke Spanish, I would

have gone to him myself. Religion. Now there’s something I hadn’t experienced

for a while. I left out of a different door to the one I entered, and for the

next two hours walked west and north, right off the tourist map, when I had

intended to go north and east, into the center of town.

The next day, I discovered markets. And then, overwhelmed by bustle, smells,

colours and people, escaped to the massive park, with a mango. I am pleased

to report that the mango lived up to expectations. (I find myself going out

of my way to walk past flower stalls: the smell, downwind, so entrancing and

novel. Especially if there are fresias on sale.)

My third bath was on the lush island of Waiheke in New Zealand. After a 14-hour

plane journey, the chaos of commuting, and sensory overload of a hundred colours

of green in the rainforest, I yearned to submerge myself into steamy oblivion.

The water was brown and smelled of mud. I later discovered the only water source

was from rain, and the tank was low. Oops. From then on, I reverted to Halley

showers. The bath was good, though, a kid obviously lived in the house, so I

felt happy splashing about, and the wonderful comforts of a real home seemed

to surround and await me.

The next baths, if you can call them that, were in the sea, and I floated for

many days in the water, with endless boundaries. The sea. Swimming in the sea.

Salt. I have missed the sea.

I had my fourth bath of the year, in a motel in Dargaville, a town that lived

up to every stereotype that the name suggests. Nothing to report, except the

spa. With my toes touching one end, I could stretch out, under water, as far

as my neck. What it lacked in history, it compensated a hundred times in size.

And bubbles of air. Yes, at last, a bath up to my expectations.

I now write to you from Sydney. My friends left me in their house for the weekend

while they go to a wedding and I get to be entartained by my brother. Their

bath, though tiny, was the best yet. Porcelain, chipped, lemon verbena bubble

bath, miaowing cat, cup of tea and book not far away. While Felix is hurrying

with the rush to do nothing all day, a phenomenon most New Yorkers apparrantly

struggle with for atleast a week, I still need a couple of hours to build up

to the idea of leaving the front door. He amuses me with his entanglement of

media contraptions and the constant demands that they place on him while he

laughs when I speak the first thing that pops out of my brain, independant of

tact, timing or relevance to anything. We make a good team… and it’s wonderful

to see him. Ultimately, the only thing I have really missed is the people who

know me best and who I love the most.

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8 Responses to Rhian’s bath tour of the world

  1. Alexa says:

    Hello Rhian, this is perhaps not blogging etiquette but if you’re in Sydney and at a loose end I’d love to say hello. Email me if you’d like to meet. Alexa Thomson

  2. bafc23 says:

    Mangos make my mouth numb and scratchy.

    Your description of Felix’ electronica is worthy of the highly underused laughter-of the-outloud variety. Sorry about Arthurs, it really is good pizza. Get a Chinese massage – they have really good ones in Sydney. Drink a Cooper’s. Have a flat white. Go to Bronte or Maroubra, not Bondi. Try the Hanks Jam.

  3. Stefan says:

    Also go to the Marble Bar in the Hilton and have a midi while trying to imagine me running around there as a busboy 16 years ago. My first job, it was.

    And there are a couple of books by Nietzsche in Sydney Uni library that have lots of exclamation marks appended to certain passages. That was my doing. With hindsight, they are rather excessive, and I’d appreciate it if you took a moment to go and erase some of them.

  4. Felix says:

    We didn’t go to the Hilton (in fact, I can’t ever remember going to any Hilton unless I absolutely had to), but we did pop in to the Park Hyatt at the Rocks, right under the SH Bridge. We were walking past it, and I looked in and saw a couple of classic Eames armchairs upholstered in white leather — something I’d never seen before but which looked fabulous. I made Rhian sit in them, which prompted some hilarious comments on how Felix was more interested in white leather Eames chairs than in, um, clouds. I would even have tried to order a Suntory while sitting in them, but they were in the lobby, not the bar, and there didn’t seem to be cocktail service in the lobby. Besides, I have to admit that the Park Hyatt Sydney has absolutely nothing, bar the name, in common with the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Well, maybe the prices.

  5. Kartika says:


    If you and your sister want to catch up for a coffee in sydney- email me.

    It would be great to meet one of the illustrious memefirst editors.


  6. kartika says:

    Oh and Stefan, working at Sydney University has enabled me to erase the aforesaid exclamation marks.

    Still the marks of youth have an indelible impact…

  7. Jean Sinclair says:

    How’s life (and baths) in Cambridge?

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