When you go travelling, there’s so much stuff to see and enjoy, it’s an amazing experience! But then there’s some parts of it that aren’t quite as glorious and are generally forgotten about when you speak to people about your amazing trip.
Leaving home again to go back on the road for a few weeks has reminded me of one of my most loved travelling gripes.
Laundry! That’s right, the mundane task that we all have to do, laundry!
When at home, laundry isn’t too much of a problem, you simply gather up your clothes, pop it in the washing machine, leave it for the predetermined amount of time that you’ll know by heart, come back to some super clean clothes and get them dried, whether it be by line or by tumble drier. Easy.
Well when you’re travelling it’s not that straight forward.
Asia: the prepared areas. Travel hubs and popular destinations in south East Asia have a real simple solution to laundry. You simply find somewhere that will do it for you, you give them a couple of pounds/euros and they’ll go to work on your clothes and have them ready for you the following day or even the same afternoon.
Some of these places even sew little bits of coloured string into your clothes to identify them. What a brilliant idea you would think! And rightly so! All the right clothes to all the right owners after washing and drying. Easy. Oh you thought wrong! Along with other places that don’t use the little coloured thread technique, you will be guaranteed that yes, your clothes will be returned bounty fresh, but you’ll also be guaranteed that you have a piece of clothing missing, or the lovely discovery of someone else’s underwear mixed in with your clothes.
Another flaw of these kitted out laundry places that seem to do such a professional job… Cleaning doesn’t seem to actually happen. More often than not, yes, everything smells beautiful, but your clothes have only had a light wash, and when travelling, your clothes need a real good wash, they become filthy fast! Not only do they only get half a job when it comes to being washed, there has been more than one occasion where I’ve had clothes returned with a nice gift from the lovely laundry lady… A bonus stain! Brilliant. Another t-shirt ready for the bin!
Now we move to Asia: the less prepared areas. Well these places are generally a lot better at getting your full repertoire of clothes back to you, maybe because they get a little bit more personal service, I’m not sure. But these places as above still dont’t manage to give your clothes a great wash. But the difference with these ‘laundrettes’ is that the lovely workers here take all of your clothes to the nearest sink, or at times, river, and give you clothes a good old hand scrub!
Yes, every so often some of your clothes require a good old hand scrub, but not every time. This is a sure fire way to reduce your clothes to a pile of worn out rags in no time! I’ve had many an item of clothing returned and ready for the bin. And that’s in addition to the bonus stain!
So basically, Asia is a great place to go if you want to get all of your clothes stained and ruined with a smile. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many replacement sets of clothes in as little time.
Now I’m in the USA. And needless to say, I’m sat in the inspiration for my rant, a laundromat in Miami!
After 2 days of trying to get my rain soaked clothes (thank you tropical storm Karen) washed at my hostel and visiting 2 shut down laundromats, I’m now washing them at a different laundromat about 5 miles away from my hostel. I’m sharing this pleasure with what looks like a lady of the night and her daughter to one side, and a gentleman who stinks of bourbon and piss.
Washing my clothes is not a fun part of travelling. I think a beer is in order when I leave here! I suppose the feeling of a well deserved drink in a far off land is the upside of the trauma of doing your laundry. So for any budding travellers, don’t let this put you off, just think of that lovely beer afterwards, it will be well worth it!