As a mother of 2 children, I can't conceive in 2018 number of loads of washing I've done over the years. Washing, hanging clothes on the line (which many times had been soaked by rain while I was at work), drying, folding & ironing. It would be fair to say that most of us have done our fair share of laundry over the years.
A typical home life in Thailand in may ways differs from that in an Australian home. In Thailand many homes don't have a laundry room & as a consequence a washing machine or clothes dryer.
While these home appliances offer convenience in a typical 'western' setting when I consider the Thai way of doing things perhaps we've been programmed to think that way, when in fact we are slaves to these appliances.
Since moving here in November my minimalist living conditions in Thailand are much like a standard hotel room in any country at a 3-star level, minus the room service of course, so my lifestyle must also adapt to my new environs also. My 'room' consists of a two rooms in total - comprising a wet room (bathroom) with a shower powered by a water heater, toilet (western style) & sink which supplies cold water only.
The main room with air conditioning has a queen sized bed, a 3 seater lounge, a television, cabinet & small desk. The area is tiled & leads out onto a small balcony with a plastic chair. I'm situated on the first floor of a three storey building which is set on a main road.
Getting laundry done - Thai style.
There's a laundry shop around every 50 metres or so in Phuket, Thailand so when the dirty clothes pile is outweighed by the clean clothes it's time to seek out a professional to get the job done.
It's really not possible to hand wash clothes here in Patong as the water supply is non-potable - the water is brown & when clothes are left to soak they take on the minerals & other contaminants in the water supply leaving clothes stained & looking dirtier than they were previously, especially whites. When it comes to washing larger items such as bed sheets quite frankly it's impossible due to the size constraints of my plastic tub & bathroom sink.
I have no kitchen sink or laundry tub & my bathroom sink is quite small. For a short time after moving in I have been hand washing my clothes however did not feel like they were sufficiently cleaned to wear again.
Receipt issued for presentation on collection the following day.
Abandoning the idea of hand washing my clothing I now utilize a laundry service located just a couple of doors down from my accommodation. The standard rate in these parts for 1 kilogram of laundry - fluff & fold is 50 Baht, slightly more if you like your clothing ironed.
On arrival at the laundry my clothes which I had packed into a plastic supermarket shopping bag are weighed. Following this process a receipt is made out detailing the total weight of the load & the total cost. I'm then required to write my name at the top of the docket (the owner only speaks Thai.) A copy of the receipt is issued to me which I'm required to present the following day to collect my laundry.
The turnaround is 24 hours & customers can opt for door to door delivery if they prefer. I've just picked up my laundry after dropping it off yesterday at the around the same time. A pair of shorts, 7 t-shirts & a long sleeve shirt, weighing 1.2 kilograms cost a total 70 Baht - fluff & fold.
To put the cost into context, 70 Baht is roughly AUD$2.75 / USD$2.20 / GPB£1.60
My clothes smell fresh, my whites are whiter than white & all items are neatly folded & placed in a clear plastic sealed bag for collection. The lady who owns & runs the business is a grandmother who often looks after her grandson who is around 5 years of age. I have to say business is booming. With all the expats living nearby there's a constant stream of locals & 'farangs' making a beeline to her door every day.
The service is first class & the result is on par with any dry-cleaner back home at a fraction of the price. When the time comes for me to return again to Australia I contemplate how on earth will I manage to integrate back into Australian society again - let alone do the washing!
With electricity prices in Australia skyrocketing & the ongoing energy crisis which seems to get worse year on year coupled with the price of washing powder one wonders how much a load of washing costs back home, let alone the time & energy required to complete the task.
I'm in total awe of this astute businesswoman, who must be in her late sixties or early seventies. She's running a business which operates 7 days a week, 12 hours a day raising a grandchild & in all likelihood has a husband & is running a household too. What a truly amazing woman indeed.
Thailand is a wonderful place indeed. Each & every day I meet & interact with the locals who go about their business with little fuss. Thai's have much to be proud of. The people are incredible in their resilience, ingenuity, work ethic & in their nation, something that is sadly lacking back home in Australia.