Laundry and other Household Duties on the Road

6 Dec
“And today is not even the 31st!”

This is what my husband exclaimed, after I had told him of all things I had gotten done already that morning.

What does he mean, you may wonder? He is referring to Proverbs 31.

We made a habit of tapping a little into King Solomon’s Godly wisdom by reading a chapter of the Book of Proverbs most mornings. There are 31 chapters – one for every day of the month.

The 31st chapter (verses 10-31) happens to talk about the attributes and activities of a wife of noble character.

That morning, however, I didn’t actually need a biblical reminder to go after my “housewifely duties”. To be honest, I feel quite blessed with the few things that need to get done on a regular basis while we are travling about.

So what did I do that morning?

I did Laundry: 

Doing laundry in Thailand is quick and cheap. However, since the only hot water comes from a kettle or a water-heater in the shower, laundry is usually done with cold water. Basically, there are two options – have it done or use a coin-operated machine.

 Have it done – If you decide to let someone else do your laundry, it might take a day or two and it costs you about 30 THB ($1) per kilo of laundry. There are many small laundry businesses around and the ladies (usually) operating them will wash your clothes, hang them up to dry and fold them neatly afterwards. Dryers are rare, but sunshine is free, so mostly it’s air/sun dried.

Should you need your clothes sooner (in a few hours) there are also express-services for about 50 THB ($1.70) per kilo. You could also have your clothes ironed for the same ‘up-charge of 50 THB a kilo.

Coin operated washing machines in Thailand

You can find these coin operated laundry machines all over Thailand

Coin Laundry – All over Thailand’s cities you will see coin-operated washing machines along the streets. I love those and usually use them to do our laundry. A wash cycle in a regular machine costs 20 THB ($0.70) and you can buy little packets of laundry soap for 10 THB ($0.30) at every 7/11. There are also big machines for 40 THB a cycle.

I have no issues leaving my clothes unattended for an hour while they are in the machine, but for those who prefer their laundry be watched, there are also laundromats with attendants. Their charges will be a little higher, starting at 40 THB for a small load.

Sign for cheap laundry service in Thailand

After an hour I head back to get our clean but still wet clothes. Sometimes the places we stay at will have a drying rack or a clothes line on the balcony. Other times I have to be a little more inventive in finding spots to hang out stuff to dry, like the headboard or bed frame etc.

Outside in the sun drying takes less than an hour and even inside our clothes dry by the end of the day. In rainy season, when sunshine is rarer and humidity very high, drying might take longer.

*I took these pictures another time after dark.

 I Fetched Water:

Indeed, I fetched water that morning – but not from the town well. Nope.  From a filter machine.

Machine dispensing filtered Water in Thailand

You can find these filtered water machines all over Thailand. 1L for 50 Satang to 1 Baht (1.5-3 cents)

Although there is running water everywhere in Thailand, tap water is not recommended for drinking. Instead filtered/bottled water is cheap and widely available. When we get to a new place, we buy a few 1.5L bottles (15 THB) or one large 6L bottle (40 THB) at 7/11 or any store. We would just recycle these bottles and keep buying new ones, but to reduce waste, we reuse these bottles and refill them.

Just like washing machines there many filtered water machines to be found on the street sides of Thai towns. From these machines you can fetch clean, filtered water for 1 THB (3 cents) a liter, sometimes for only 50 Satang (1.5 cents) even.

 Having filtered water gets even easier when you have a house with road access. When we rented a house, we bought a few large 20L jugs for about 130 THB ($4.30) at a store on our street. For a refill all we at to do, was put out the empty jugs in front of our place. Several times a day big water trucks drive by and for 12 THB ($0.40) they would replace the empty with a full jug of filtered water.

20L water jug waiting for a refill on a Thai street

Empty 20L jug waiting to be exchanged for a full one

When we weren’t at home, we could even leave the coins on the empty bottle and find a full one on our return. There were absolutely NO issues with theft. At the end of our stay we brought the jugs back to the store and even received a refund for them (what we paid up front minus the cost of one refill).

I Went to the Market:

I absolutely love Thai markets!

Admittedly, the huge whole sale markets that happen early mornings can be difficult to handle due to the smell of fish and all the other raw meats, but the smaller day-time markets  mainly sell fruits and vegetables and other snacks. So they definitely are easier on the olfactory senses.

Huge papayas and pomelos at a Thai market

Papayas and pomelos at the market

When we don’t have a kitchen, I can’t make much use of all the fresh vegetables. So I am focusing on fruit mainly. It is cheap and fresh and oh soo convenient. Sure, you can buy whole fruits and prepare them yourself, but what I love even more is buying freshly prepared packages of peeled, sliced fruit. A skewer has the double-function of closing the bag and serving as utensil.

Thais are masters of convenient food-to-go. It’s not hard at all to eat your ‘Daily Five’ this way. So to look after the vitamin household of my family (of two ;)), I try to get us a variety of different fruits every day. When you get fruit that is in season and was allowed to ripen before it was plucked, the flavor experience is phenomenal!

Papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit and pomelo fruit packages

Clockwise from top left: papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit, pomelo

I am thinking of some of the super juicy, sweet Thai pineapple. I’ll take that any day over a popsicle or any other candy. Yay, for healthy snacking!

But what about all the other usual household tasks?

Well, that’s why I said in the beginning that I feel so blessed. I don’t really have to do any of the other housewifely duties. But let’s tackle them one by one:

Cooking: To be honest, I really miss it. I get to cook much less than I would like to. When we are on the road, traveling around, we mostly go out to eat or have simple meals that don’t require cooking, like cornflakes or PB sandwiches. Sometimes guesthouses have a small communal kitchen, but I haven’t done much more than frying eggs for breakfast in those.

The only time I get to cook is when we rent a place for a longer time, but even then it can be tricky. The house we rented in Thailand at the beginning had a kitchen but it wasn’t really equipped. Apparently it is custom that each renter buys their own hob for gas cooking. I was kind of intimidated by this and we resorted to an electric wok instead, which somewhat limited the type of meals I could prepare. With time however, I learnt how to make other things than always fried rice – like some mean stews and I even figured out how to make pancakes with it.

Ovens seem to be mainly absent in Thai houses – much to my dismay. As a cake baker I was sad to find out about this and the readers of my cake blog got to hear this often.

It was only at the villa we rented on Bali for a month that we had a fully equipped kitchen. And made use of it as much as we could by cooking basically every single meal at home. Even Konrad enjoyed cooking there. I – of course- was most happy about the oven at that place 😀

Grocery Shopping: This is kind of related and dependent on having a kitchen, but even then it never seems like a chore. As mentioned above, I love buying fresh produce from the local markets. And when we need things from the supermarket we usually go together. I think it is actually a lot of fun getting to know stores in different locations, seeing what kind of products they offer and figuring out what we can create with these.

Cleaning: The only time I have cleaned since we are traveling, was in our house in Thailand. In most guest houses or hotels rooms are made up daily or on request. Even at our villa on Bali someone came every other day to clean. The lady there was so sweet – she scolded me every time for doing dishes. She wanted me to leave these for her 😉

Back to the house in Thailand. To be honest, I dreaded cleaning there. Due to its hilly location we had issues with running water there, which highly limited the times I was able to clean. Also, there was only one A/C unit and it was in the bedroom. Cleaning in all the other rooms equated a hard-core work out with lots of sweat and always left me exhausted. However, I really can’t complain. Since then – for the last 6 months – I didn’t have to do any cleaning!

What other chores are there? Am I forgetting something? Feel free to ask me about anything travel and housekeeping related that interests you!

In the meantime, I think it’s obvious that I actually love being a ‘housewife’ on the road and can only recommend it.

2 thoughts on “Laundry and other Household Duties on the Road

  1. I really enjoyed your post. While I tried using those coin machines, it was tough finding spots to dry the clothes in my studio apartment. I ended up finding a service that does it for 50 baht per kg, including pick up and delivery so I swapped to that instead.

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